Short for Schutzstaffel, it was a major Nazi paramilitary organisation which, among other things, was primarily responsible for the implementation of the Final Solution.
Fact of the Day
In 1956 John Wayne starred as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror. It was filmed in Utah, downwind of the US government's nuclear tests in Nevada, and about half the cast and crew developed cancer as a result.
Quote of the Day
"A man must needs close his eyes and clench his teeth, wry-mouthed and shuddering, and filtering the stuff rather than drinking. "
~ Peter of Blois, 12th century, on English wine
On This Day
837 Halley's Comet made its closest approach to Earth, with the distance between the two being just 3.7 million miles.
1633 Bananas went on display in Thomas Johnson's shop in London. It was the first time the fruit was seen in Britain.
1660 The Civil War general John Lambert escaped from the Tower of London by descending a silk rope and fleeing by barge. He attempted to rekindle the civil wars against the Restoration, but was defeated and recaptured, and spent the remaining twenty-four years of his life in prison.
1809 The War of the Fifth Coalition against Napoleon began when Austrian troops invaded Bavaria. It finished later that year with victory for the French and a harsh treaty against Austria.
1815 Mount Tambora in Indonesia began to erupt after being dormant for a thousand years. The explosion was one of the most powerful in recorded history, with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 7 (the highest being 8), and reduced the volcano's height by about a third. The initial explosion killed at least 10,000 people, but tens of thousands more were to die from the effects it had on the Earth's climate over the subsequent two years.
1912 Titanic set off from Southampton for her maiden, and only, voyage.
1932 Paul von Hindenburg defeated Adolf Hitler by six million votes in the German presidential elections. Sadly, this didn't stop the Nazi's rise to power, and less than a year later Hindenburg appointed Hitler to the German chancellorship.
1938 Nazi Germany formally annexed Austria when the referendum following March's Anschluss delivered an approval rate of 99.73%.
1962 Stuart Sutcliffe, the original Beatles bass guitarist who is sometimes called the 'fifth Beatle' died of a brain haemorrhage, aged twenty-one.
1998 The British and Irish governments, and the political parties of Northern Ireland, reached a deal - the Good Friday Agreement - to help bring the Northern Irish Troubles to an end.