Seeds of Fire: A People’s Chronology
– February –
Recalling events that happened on this day in history. Memories of struggle, resistance and persistence.
Compiled by Ulli Diemer
February 1, 1960 Four black students sit down at a Woolworth’s whites-only lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, claiming their right to be served, and refuse to leave. It is not the first sit-in in the American civil rights movement (there have been sit-ins in at least 16 cities since 1957) but this one lights a spark and gathers increasing support. The sit-ins continue, and in July Woolworth’s finally agrees to desegregate its lunch counter after losing 20% of its business. The sit-ins also succeed in gaining widespread publicity and support for the civil rights struggle in the American South.
February 1, 1968 Saigon police chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan summarily executes a handcuffed prisoner, Nguyen Van Lem (a suspected member of the National Liberation Front), on a Saigon street, with a pistol shot to the head. A photo of the killing by photojournalist Eddie Adams becomes one of the most famous images of the Vietnam War, affecting international and American public opinion regarding the war by illustrating the brutality of the U.S.’s Vietnamese collaborators.
February 2, 1512 Hatuey, a Taino from Hispaniola who fought against the Spanish invasion of Cuba, is burned alive by the Spanish after being captured.
February 2, 1848 After its successful invasion of Mexico, the United States forces the defeated Mexican government to sign the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidlago, giving the U.S. huge swatches of Mexican territory, including the present-day states of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Wyoming.
February 2, 1912 Black Friday: Police and “special constables” (thugs recruited to help the police) brutally attack a procession of strikers and their supporters in Brisbane, Australia. They ride down and club anyone in their path, including women, children, and elderly supporters of workers’ rights.
February 2, 1943 The last elements of the surrounded German army surrender to the Soviet Red Army at Stalingrad.
Related Topics: World War II
February 2, 1970 Death of Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), philosopher, mathematician, author, socialist, anti-war campaigner.
February 3, 1783 Britain recognizes the independence of the United States of America.
February 3, 1852 American forces invade Buenos Aires to ‘protect American interests’ during a revolt.
February 3, 1924 Birth of E.P. Thompson (1924-1993), Marxist historian.
E.P. Thompson: The Making of the English Working Class
February 4, 1868 U.S. forces intervene in Japan ‘to protect American interests.’
February 4, 1892 Birth of Andres Nin (1892-1937), Spanish Catalan Marxist and revolutionary.
Related Topics: Spanish Civil War
February 4, 1899 Fighting breaks out between Filipino revolutionaries seeking independence for the Philippines and U.S. forces seeking to impose American rule.
February 4, 1906 Birth of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), German theologian killed for opposing Hitler.
February 4, 1913 Birth of Rosa Parks (Rosa Louise McCauley) (1913-2005), American civil rights activist.
Related Topics: Feminism
February 4, 1987 Assassination of Meena Keshwar Kamal (1956-1987), founder of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. Kamal and RAWA opposed both Soviet control of Afghanistan and Muslim fundamentalists, and fought for equality and education for women. Kamal and her husband Faiz Ahmad were both murdered by Muslim fundamentalists.
February 5, 1981 Toronto police raid four gay bathhouses: 288 men are charged as ‘found-ins’ and 20 as keepers of ‘common bawdyhouses’. The raids cause widespread outrage: the next day more than 3,000 people protest the police action. On February 20, more than 4,000 come out to protest.
February 5, 1982 South African physician and labour activist Neil Aggett is tortured to death by South African security forces.
February 6, 1919 Start of the Seattle General Strike. During the strike (February 6 - 11), the General Strike Committee acts as a counter-government for the city, organizing essential services, distributing food, and providing security in place of the police.
The Seattle General Strike of 1919
February 7, 1849 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels stand trial for insulting the public prosecutor in the pages of their newspaper, the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Marx delivers a speech to the jury in which he states “it is the duty of the press to come forward on behalf of the oppressed... the first duty of the press now is to undermine all the foundations of the existing political state of affairs.” There is loud applause in the courtroom, and at the end of the day the jury finds the defendants not guilty.
February 7, 1868 American forces intervene in Uruguay to ‘protect American interests’ when an insurrection breaks out.
February 7, 1898 American forces intervene in Nicaragua to ‘protect American interests.’
February 7, 1909 Birth of Helder Camara (1909-1999), Brazilian archbishop committed to fighting fighting poverty and injustice. Quote: “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.”
February 8, 1805 Birth of Louis Auguste Blanqui (1805-1881), French socialist.
February 8, 1849 Karl Marx stands trial for the second time in two days. Having been acquitted on February 7, 1849, on a charge of abusing freedom of the press by insulting a government official, Marx and two others now face charges of incitement to armed rebellion. Marx gives another powerful speech in his defense, and again is acquitted by a jury. In his speech, Marx says “no peace is possible between these two societies. Their material interests and needs bring them into mortal combat. One side must win, the other must lose. That is the only possible reconciliation between them. Neither can there be peace between the supreme political representatives of these two societies, between the Crown and the representatives of the people.” Despite the acquittal, the government expels Marx from Germany on May 16.
Speech by Karl Marx, February 8, 1849
February 8, 1968 Orangeburg Massacre. South Carolina police fire into a crowd of demonstrators protesting segregation. They kill three and injure 28; most of the victims are shot in the back.
February 9, 1737 Birth of Thomas Paine (1737-1809), author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary. (January 29 old calendar).
February 9, 1923 Birth of Andre Gorz (Gerard Horst) (1923-2007) Marxist, social philosopher, author.
February 10, 1898 Birth of Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), German poet, playwright, theatre director, and radical.
Bertolt Brecht: Stories of Mr. Keuner
February 10, 1920 Birth of Alex Comfort (1920-2000), physician, anarchist, pacifist, conscientious objector and writer.
February 10, 1961 The Voice of Nuclear Disarmament, a pirate radio station, begins operation offshore of Great Britain. It is run by John Hasted, a physicist, a musician, and World War II radio expert active in the Committee for Nuclear Disarmament.
February 10, 1963 Local farmer-landowners launch an armed attack on striking lumberworkers during the Reesor Siding Strike in northern Ontario, killing three and wounding eight others. Twenty landowners are charged in the attack; eventually three of them are found guilty of firearms violations and fined $150 each. The police also charge 237 strikers for ‘illegal assembly’; 138 of them are found guilty.
Related Topics: Strikes/Canadian
February 10, 1964 Bob Dylan’s song The Times they are a-changin’ is released; it becomes one of the most popular songs of the emerging New Left protest movement in the United States.
February 11, 1916 Emma Goldman is arrested for lecturing on birth control. Sentenced to a fine, she opts to spend two weeks in prison instead.
February 11, 1937 Forty-eight thousand General Motors workers win their 44-day sit-down strike in Flint, Michigan.
February 11, 1969 Students set fire to the Sir George Williams computer centre in Montreal, after occupying it since January 29.
February 11, 1978 Native Americans set out on “The Longest Walk”, a 320-mile walk starting in Alcatraz and ending on July 15 in Washington.
Related Topics: Aboriginal History
February 11, 1979 Poet John Trudell, former national chairman of the American Indian Movement (AIM), burns an upside-down flag and speaks from the steps of the FBI building in Washington, D.C. during a vigil for Leonard Peltier. Twelve hours later Trudell’s wife Tina, her mother, and their three children die in an arson attack of their home on the Duck Valley Reservation in Nevada. The FBI refuses to investigate the crime.
February 11, 1990 Nelson Mandela is released from prison after 27 years of incarceration by South Africa’s apartheid regime. On the day of his release, he makes a speech to the nation in which he says: “Today the majority of South Africans, black and white, recognise that apartheid has no future. It has to be ended by our own decisive mass action in order to build peace and security. The mass campaign of defiance and other actions of our organisation and people can only culminate in the establishment of democracy.... It is our belief that the future of our country can only be determined by a body which is democratically elected on a non-racial basis. Negotiations on the dismantling of apartheid will have to address the over-whelming demand of our people for a democratic, non-racial and unitary South Africa. There must be an end to white monopoly on political power and a fundamental restructuring of our political and economic systems to ensure that the inequalities of apartheid are addressed and our society thoroughly democratised.... Our struggle has reached a decisive moment. We call on our people to seize this moment so that the process towards democracy is rapid and uninterrupted. We have waited too long for our freedom. We can no longer wait. Now is the time to intensify the struggle on all fronts. To relax our efforts now would be a mistake which generations to come will not be able to forgive. The sight of freedom looming on the horizon should encourage us to redouble our efforts.”.
Long Walk to Freedom
February 11, 2011 Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is forced to resign after 18 days of mass protests.
Related Topics: Egyptian Revolt 2011
February 12, 1809 Birth of Charles Darwin, the founder of the science of evolutionary biology.
February 12, 1809 Birth of Abraham Lincoln.
February 12 -20, 1874 U.S. forces intervene in the Kingdom of Hawaii.
February 12, 1894 The French anarchist Emile Henry throws a bomb into a cafe in Paris, killing one and wounding 20.
February 12, 1955 The first American military ‘advisors’ are sent to Vietnam. Their number eventually grows to 550,000; still not enough to defeat the Vietnamese resistance. The last American military personnel flee Vietnam in 1975 just ahead of the victorious Vietnamese resistance forces.
February 13 - July 15, 1951 The New Zealand waterfront strike, the largest and most widespread industrial dispute in New Zealand history. The strike is met with massive repression by the employers and the state, and ends in defeat.
Further Reading: The 1951 waterfront dispute
February 13, 2012 Quebec students begin massive demonstrations against tuition fee increases. The demonstrations continue through the winter, spring, and summer, and end with the defeat of the Liberal government and the withdrawal of the fee hikes.
Max Horkheimer: Critical Theory
February 14, 1949 Start of the Asbestos Strike. Miners walk off the job at four asbestos mines in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, near the towns of Asbestos and Thetford Mines. The strike is declared “illegal” by the capitalist courts, and police and strikebreakers are brought in. Workers eventually return to work in June, but many do not get their jobs back. In the longer term, pay and working conditions improve in the mines as employers seek to avoid similar confrontations. The strike becomes a huge issue in Quebec, and leads to increased political awareness and upheaval in Quebec society, helping to open the way for future change.
Related Topics: Strikes/Canadian
February 15, 1564 Birth of Galileo Galilei, physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher.
February 15, 1820 Birth of Susan B. Anthony, American advocate for women’s suffrage.
February 15, 1894 Martial Bourdin, a French anarchist, blows himself up while attempting to plant a bomb at the Greenwich astronomical observatory near London.
February 15, 1898 The man-of-war (battleship) USS Maine sinks in Cuba’s Havana Harbour (where it had been sent ‘to protect American interests’) as the result of an explosion. The cause of the explosion is unknown, but the U.S. uses it as a pretext to wage war against Spain and seize Spanish colonies.
February 15, 1915 Outbreak of the 1915 Singapore mutiny. Indian soldiers under British command mutiny against the British imperial army.
Related Topics: Mutinies
February 15, 1922 Mohandas Gandhi, wielding the executive powers given him by the Indian National Congress, unilaterally calls a halt to the non-cooperation movement in India because a recent violent incident has led him to fear the emergence of a militant mass movement which threatens to go beyond the limits that Gandhi and the Congress seek to impose on the movement for independence. Gandhi’s fiat leads to widespread confusion, resentment, and demoralization, and years go by before the independence movement is able to regain its momentum.
February 15, 1982 The Ocean Ranger disaster: 84 men die on a drilling rig off Newfoundland.
February 15, 2003 Worldwide demonstrations take place against American/NATO plans to invade Iraq. An estimated 15 to 30 million people in 800 cities take part. The invasion takes place nonetheless, a month later.
February 16, 1525 Peasant villages in the vicinity of Memmingen in southwestern Germany rebel against the oppression they are suffering at the hands of the nobility and government authorities. They publish a list of grievances and demands and elect officers to represent them. On March 6, peasants from different communities gather in Memmingen and adopt a program of demands, including an end to the Great Tithe they are forced to pay to the Church, the abolition of serfdom and death tolls, the right to fish and hunt; the restoration of the forests, pastures, and privileges that the nobility has seized for itself, and an end to arbitrary justice and administration. The upper classes react with savage fury: over the next few months, in the course of what becomes known as the German Peasant War, their forces slaughter between 100,000 and 300,000 of the poorly armed and militarily inexperienced peasants.
Friedrich Engels: The Peasant War in Germany
Related Topics: Peasant Uprisings
February 17, 1600 Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) is burned at the stake after being convicted of heresy by the Roman Catholic Church. Bruno, a mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher, came to believe that the earth revolves around the sun, that the sun is just one of many stars, and that the universe contains other inhabited planets with intelligent life – ideas totally unacceptable to the Church. The Church first imprisons him for seven years, then, when he still refuses to recant his beliefs, burns him to death and dumps his ashes in the Tiber River.
February 17, 1958 The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) holds its inaugural public meeting, attended by five thousand people, in London. After the meeting several hundred go to protest in Downing Street.
February 18, 1946 Start of the Royal Indian Navy mutiny, a turning point in the struggle against British rule over India. It starts when Indian sailors based in Bombay harbour go on strike against the British. The strike becomes a full-fledged revolt, encompassing 78 ships, 20 on-shore facilities, and 20,000 sailors in various ports. Though the revolt is eventually suppressed by force by the British, it becomes a decisive factor in the British decision to grant India independence. Realizing that it can no longer rely on colonial troops to enforce their rule over India, Britain concludes that it is better to make a deal with the bourgeois pro-independence organizations than to risk being overthrown by a popular uprising. The revolt also frightens the mainstream independence movements, who are working towards the partition of India, because it succeeded in unifying Hindus and Muslims in a common cause outside their control. Mohandas Gandhi issues a statement condemning the strikers for acting on their own without the “guidance” of their “political leaders” and calling their actions “unholy.”
February 18, 1961 The Committee of 100 stages a sit-down demonstration at the Ministry of Defence in London, to coincide with the expected arrival of the Proteus nuclear submarine on the River Clyde. Between 1,000 and 6,000 people take part.
February 18, 1965 Police attack a peaceful civil rights march in Marion, Alabama. One young marcher, Jimmie Lee Jackson, who is attempting to protect his mother and grandfather from being beaten by the police, is shot in the stomach by a policeman; he dies eight days later.
February 19, 1942 U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorizes the internment of Japanese-Americans. As a result, people of Japanese ancestry are excluded from the entire Pacific coast of the U.S. In total, about 110,000 people are forced into “War Relocation Camps”
February 20, 1895 Death of Frederick Douglass (c. 1818-1895), escaped slave, abolitionist, orator, journalist, politician, and author.
February 20 - 26, 1899 The Leipziger Volkszeitung publishes a series of articles by Rosa Luxemburg on “The Militia and Militarism”. Luxemburg writes: “for capitalism, militarism creates the most profitable and indispensable kind of investment.... For the capitalists, there is indeed a difference as to whether a certain demand for products comes from isolated private buyers or from the State. The State’s demand is distinguished by the fact that it is certain, that it orders in enormous quantities, and that its pricing is favourable to the supplier and usually monopolistic – all of which makes the State the most desirable customer and makes supplying it the most alluring business for capitalism. But what makes supplying the military in particular essentially more profitable than, for example, State expenditures on cultural ends (schools, roads, etc.), is the incessant technical innovations of the military and the incessant increase in its expenditures. Militarism thus represents an inexhaustible, and indeed increasingly lucrative, source of capitalist gain.... Militarism – which to society as a whole represents a completely absurd economic waste of enormous productive forces – and which for the working class means a lowering of its standard of living with the objective of enslaving it socially – is for the capitalist class economically the most alluring, irreplaceable kind of investment and politically and socially the best support for their class rule.”
February 20, 1914 Rosa Luxemburg addresses the German court which is trying her for having given a speech allegedly instigating soldiers to disobedience. She was charged for having said “If they expect us to lift the weapons of murder against our French or other foreign brothers, then let us tell them, ‘No, we won't do it!’” Speaking to the court in her defense, Luxemburg says “We are of the opinion that wars can be waged only so long as the working class takes part in them with enthusiasm, because it regards them as just and necessary; or at least patiently puts up with them... On the other hand, when the great majority of the working people come to the conclusion... that wars are a barbarous, deeply immoral, and reactionary phenomenon hostile to the interests of the people, then wars will become impossible.” The court sentences Luxemburg to a year in prison for her criminal utterances.
February 20, 1956 The United States rejects a proposal from the Soviet Union to ban nuclear weapons tests and deployment. The U.S. continues atmospheric nuclear testing in the South Pacific and Nevada until 1963.
February 21, 1848 An obscure German-language printshop in London prints 1,000 copies of a 23-page political statement issued by a small revolutionary organization called the Communist League. With the whiff of revolution in the air, the manuscript has been hurriedly written by two young members of the League, 29-year-old Karl Marx and 27-year-old Friedrich Engels. In that spring of 1848, revolts start to break out across Europe. The original press run rapidly sells out, and the pamphlet, known as the Communist Manifesto, is quickly reprinted and translated into other languages. It goes on to become one of history’s most influential and widely-read political statements. The Manifesto combines a vision of the total overthrow of capitalist society, and its replacement by communism, with a willingness to ally with other progressive political groups, and a series of short-term demands, including the confiscation of land held by wealthy landowners, a heavy progressive or graduated income tax, the abolition of the right of inheritance for capitalist property, and free education for all children.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: The Communist Manifesto
February 21, 1891 125 men die in a mine disaster in Springhill, Nova Scotia.
February 21, 1934 Nicaraguan revolutionary Augusto César Sandino is assassinated by Anastasio Somoza Garcia’s National Guard while in the midst of negotiations with the government about a peaceful settlement to the conflict between peasants and the government. The day after Sandino’s murder, National Guard troops descend on the co-operatives Sandino’s movement has organized and massacre their inhabitants. Somoza holds power in Nicaragua until 1979, when he is overthrown by a new organization basing itself on Sandino’s legacy, the Sandinista National Liberation Front.
February 21, 1965 African-American leader Malcolm X is assassinated.
February 21, 1973 Israeli military jets shoot down a Libyan civilian passenger plane in northern Egypt.
February 22, 1848 Anger over the outlawing of political banquets (a popular means of holding political meetings) brings crowds of Parisians flooding out into the streets. The crowds direct their anger against King Louis Philippe and his chief minister, Guizot. Shouting “Down with Guizot” and “Long Live the Reform” the crowds march past Guizot’s residence. The next day, February 23rd, Guizot resigns, but the revolt continues.
Karl Marx: Revolution in Paris
February 22 – March 5, 1899 American and British forces intervene in Nicaragua to ‘protect their interests’ during an insurrection.
February 22, 1922 Birth of Apostolos Santas (1922-2011), Greek radical and political activist, known particularly for his participation in the resistance to the Nazi occupation of Greece.
Related Topics: Anti-Nazi Resistance
February 22, 1943 Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, and Christoph Probst, university students and members of the anti-Nazi resistance group The White Rose, are executed in Munich. Three other members of the group are captured and executed later in the year.
Related Topics: Anti-Nazi Resistance
February 22 - 25, 1986 The ‘People Power Revolution’: A series of massive popular demonstrations against the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines, originally starting in 1983, and reaching a peak in early 1986, with millions of people in the streets. On February 25, with support for his regime crumbling, Marcos decides to flee the country. The United States, Marcos’ patron since his assumption of power in 1965, quickly sends helicopters to pick up Marcos and other top officials in the regime to take them out of the country.
February 23, 1848 France’s chief minister Guizot resigns in the face of anti-government protests. On hearing the news of his resignation, a large crowd gathers outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Soldiers fire into the crowd: fifty-two people are killed. In response, barricades are thrown up throughout the city.
February 23, 1893 Birth of W.E.B. Du Bois, American civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, socialist, historian, author, and editor.
February 23, 1882? February 23, 1882 is one of the dates that have been proposed as the possible birthdate of the mysterious author B. Traven, a socialist who wrote popular adventure novels, including The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Death Ship, The Cotton Pickers, A General from the Jungle, and The Rebellion of the Hanged. Little is known about B. Traven’s true identity, including his real name, his nationality, the place and date of his birth (February 25, 1882 and May 3, 1890 have also been proposed) or the date of his death.
February 23, 1848 In the United States, the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad declares bankruptcy: the first indicator of what becomes known as the Panic of 1893. The resulting financial crisis leads to the Depression of 1893, the worst economic crisis in U.S. history up to that point. Unemployment increases from about 3 million in 1892 to about 18 million in 1894.
February 23, 1917 Outbreak of the February Revolution in St. Petersburg, according to the old calendar in use in Russia at the time (March 8 according to the calendar in use in most of the rest of the world.)
February 23, 1967 Publication of Noam Chomsky’s “The Responsibility of Intellectuals” in which he condemns the American intellectual elite for acting as apologists for American aggression in Vietnam and elsewhere.
February 24, 1834 The Tolpuddle Martyrs: Six farm labourers in Dorset, England are charged with taking an “illegal oath” – a pretext for stamping out their attempt to bargain for higher wages. The men – George Loveless, James Loveless, James Hammett, James Brine, Thomas Standfield and John Standfield – who become known as the Tolpuddle Martyrs, are sentenced to ‘transportation’ to Australia: a fate from which few return alive. Supporters rally to raise money to support their familes. Massive protest demonstrations in London, and an 800,000-strong petition, eventually lead the government to relent and allow their return three years later.
February 24, 1841 After an incident in which an American citizen was killed, U.S. forces invade Samoa and take vengeance by burning several Samoan towns.
February 24, 1848 The day after French troops kill 52 unarmed demonstrators in Paris, angry crowds converge on the royal place. Panicked, King Louis Philippe abdicates and flees to England.
Karl Marx: Revolution in Paris
February 24-25, 1956 Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev gives a speech to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in which he reveals some of Joseph Stalin’s crimes and criticizes the ‘cult of personality’ that surrounded Stalin, who had died in 1953. When the speech becomes known, it triggers a crisis in the Soviet-aligned Communist Parties, with many members leaving the parties.
February 24, 1976 Publication of the first issue of The Red Menace, a libertarian socialist newspaper published by the Toronto Liberation School.
Related Topics: Libertarian Socialism
February 25, 1941 Dutch Communists call a general strike in response to the first Nazi raid on Amsterdam’s Jewish population. Though the strike is put down within a few days, it marks the first large-scale resistance to Nazi occupation in the Netherlands, a resistance that later goes on to encompass underground armed resistance.
February 25, 2000 Four white New York City police officers are acquitted of all charges after shooting and killing Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant. The plain-clothes police officers, members of the aptly named Street Crimes Unit, fired at Diallo 41 times after he pulled out his wallet when they confronted him. An internal police department investigation rules that the officers did what any reasonable police officer would have done. The acquittal sparks a series of massive protest demonstrations. Ultimately, the city agrees to pay damages to Diallo’s family and disbands the Street Crimes Unit, whose motto was “We Own the Night.”
Related Topics: Killings by Police
February 25, 2011 In a “Day of Rage” demonstrations take place across the Middle East. Protesters in Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, and Bahrain demand democratic change and an end to corruption, dictatorship, and injustice.
February 26, 1851 The Anti-Slavery Society of Canada is founded “to aid in the extinction of slavery all over the world.”
Related Topics: Anti-Slavery
February 26, 1942 The Canadian government uses the War Measures Act to intern 26,000 Japanese nationals of military age.
Related Topics: Japanese in Canada
February 27, 1848 In Mannheim, a people’s assembly of the German state of Baden adopts a resolution demanding a bill of rights. Similar resolutions are adopted in Württemberg, Hesse-Darmstadt, Nassau, and other German states.
Related Topics: Revolutions of 1848-1849
February 27, 1933 The Reichstag Fire. The German Reichstag (Parliament building) in Berlin is gutted by a mysterious fire a month after Adolf Hitler’s Nazis take power. They blame the fire on a Communist conspiracy, and within hours proclaim an emergency decree which suspends civil liberties and bans publications considered unfriendly to the government. Thousands of Communists, including all Communist members of parliament, are arrested and imprisoned. An ‘Enabling Decree’ is then passed on March 23, 1933 which allows Hitler to rule by decree, making him dictator of Germany.
February 27, 1934 Birth of Ralph Nader, American political activist and critic of corporate power.
February 27, 1956 Birth of Meena Keshwar Kamal, founder of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.
February 27, 1973 About 200 Oglala Lakota and followers of the American Indian Movement (AIM) seize and occupy the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Oglala and AIM activists control the town for 71 days while the United States Marshals Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and other ‘law enforcement’ agencies cordon off the area.
Related Topics: Aboriginal History
February 27, 1989 A protest in the Venezuelan city of Plaza against a nation-wide increase in bus fares and other neo-liberal policies spreads to the capital, Caracas, leading to a wave of protests and riots which become known as the Caracazo. The government responds by declaring martial law and bringing in the army and police, who kill an estimated 2,000 people in the process of 'restoring order.' The government subsequently backs down on some of the worst of the neo-liberal reforms. In 1999, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights hears the case and finds that the government committed violations of human rights, including extrajudicial killings.
February 28, 1837 The demands of the Chartist movement are set out at a large public meeting at the Crown and Anchor public house in London. The goals of the movement are increased democratization of the political system, which restricts political rights to a small elite. Demands include a vote for every man over 21, a secret ballot, no property qualifications for members of Parliament, payment for MPs (so the poor could serve), and constituencies of equal size. Quote: “I have been present at all sorts of political meetings.... but never was it my good fortune to witness so brilliant a display of democracy as that which shone forth at the Crown and Anchor on Tuesday night. I often despaired of Radicalism before; I will never despair again after what I witnessed on that occasion.... Four thousand democrats, at least, were at the meeting. The immense room of the Crown and Anchor was crowded to overflowing, several hundreds stood outside on the corridor and stairs or went away for want of accommodation.” – London Mercury, 4 March 1837
February 28, 1901 Birth of Linus Pauling, American chemist, peace activist, and winner of two Nobel Prizes.
February 28, 1906 Publication of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, a ‘muckraking’ novel centered on the meatpacking industry, depicting the relationship of poverty and power. First published in serial form in a socialist newspaper, Appeal to Reason, the book has been continuously in print since 1906.
February 28 - March 19, 1921 The Kronstadt rebellion: An uprising of Soviet sailors, soldiers and civilians against the Bolshevik government. The demands of the rebels include immediate new elections to the soviets, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and the liberation of socialist and working-class political prisoners. The rebellion is crushed by troops under the command of the Bolshevik government.
Further Reading: Ida Mett: The Kronstadt Uprising 1921
Related Topics: Kronstadt
February 28 – March 31, 1924 American forces intervene in Honduras to ‘protect American interests’.
February 28, 1928 Birth of Michael Harrington, American social democrat.
February 29, 1980 51-year-old hockey player Gordie Howe scores his 800th NHL goal. He retires at the end of the season, aged 52, having scored 975 major league goals in regular-season play in the NHL and WHA, plus another 96 playoff goals.
Related Topics: Hockey
February 29, 2004 Jean-Bertrand Aristide is ousted as President of Haiti after a coup.
February 30, 1712 and 1930-1931 February 30 occurred in the Soviet Union in 1930-1931 after a new ‘revolutionary’ calendar was introduced. The new calendar was based on five-day weeks and 30-day months; the remaining five or six days were to be 'monthless' holidays. The innovation did not catch on. Prior to this, there had been a February 30 in 1712 in Sweden, when Sweden was switching between calendars.
Seeds of Fire is compiled for Connexions by Ulli Diemer. References used include the Connexions Library generally, and Connexipedia specifically, Wikipedia, Sources, the Peace History feature on Peacebuttons.info, the books and articles of Noam Chomsky and William Blum (marvellous antidotes to historical amnesia), and a wide, wide variety of other sources.
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