“Black Friday” has its origins in the crash of the United States gold market on Twenty fourth September 1869. Two notorious Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk were the ringleaders in a plan to artificially inflate the price of gold.
In early 1869, Gould initiated his audacious scheme. At that time, gold was still the official currency of international trade, but the United States had gone off the gold standard during the Civil War, when Congress authorized $450 million in government-backed ‘greenbacks’ to fund the Union war effort. Competing currencies—gold and ‘greenbacks’—had been in circulation ever since. As there was a limited amount of gold in circulation, Gould calculated that a speculator with sufficient funds could potentially buy up enough of the precious metal to effectively “corner” the market. Such a speculator could then drive up the price and potentially sell for astronomical profits. There was only one hurdle- the President of the United States- Ulysses S. Grant. The government controlled the value of gold: when government sold the price reduced; when it didn’t, the price increased. For the scheme to work, Gould needed President Grant to prevent the treasury from selling gold. Through conspirators close to the President, pressure was brought to bear upon the President to persuade him to introduce a clear policy not to sell gold. Finally, at the beginning of September 1869, the President instructed the treasury not to sell gold during the month.
The Game was on!
Gould recruited Jim Fisk into the scheme because he had considerable funds immediately available to purchase gold. They and the other conspirators continued to purchase as much as they could. As the month passed and the price of gold increased the treasury began to put pressure on the president to authorise sale of gold in order to stabilise the price. On twenty second September Gould discovered the President suspected a conspiracy. Gould did not tell his fellow fraudsters and began secretly to sell his own gold.
By twenty fourth September 1869 mobs of investors who were losing money and reporters were converging on Wall Street. Fisk continued to buy gold furiously delighted as the success of the scheme. The President furious at being deceived instructed the treasury to flood the market. $4 million in gold would be sold the following day, the twenty-fifth September.
The announcement sent Wall Street into free fall. “Possibly no avalanche ever swept with more terrible violence,” the New York Herald later wrote. Within minutes, the inflated gold prices plummeted from $160 to $133. The stock market dropped a full twenty percentage points, thereby bankrupting or severely damaging many of Wall Street’s most respected firms. Thousands of speculators were left financially ruined, and at least one committed suicide. Foreign trade ground to a halt. Farmers saw the value of their wheat and corn harvests halved.
‘Black Friday’ damaged the United States economy for several years afterwards and tainted the remainder of the President’s tenure. Despite multiple allegations of malfeasance and an official investigation by Congress neither Jay Gould or Jim Fisk spent a single night in jail. Fisk avoided massive losses by claiming third party brokers had made the trades without his knowledge. Estimates suggest Gould may have netted around $12 million as a result of his sales before that first ‘Black Friday’.
Author The Cypher Bureau
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”
by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae,
John McCrae was a physician and poet from Guelph, Ontario. McCrae enrolled with the Canadian Expeditionary Force at the age of forty-one following the outbreak of the First World War. Although he could have joined the medical corps because of his age and qualifications he insisted in joining a fighting unit as a gunner and medical officer.
McCrae fought in the Second Battle of Ypres in the Flanders region of Belgium. Conditions were horrific. The German army launched one of the first chemical attacks ever when they attacked French positions north of the McCrae’s Canadian unit with chlorine gas on twenty-second April 1915. In a letter written to his mother, McCrae described the battle-
“For seventeen days and seventeen nights none of us have had our clothes off, nor our boots even, except occasionally. In all that time while I was awake, gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for sixty seconds ... And behind it all was the constant background of the sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed, and a terrible anxiety lest the line should give way.”
On Third May 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, McCrae wrote the poem "In Flanders Fields". Apparently he was inspired by the poppies which quickly grew around the graves. He penned the first draft whilst sitting
in the back of an ambulance at an Advanced Dressing Station outside Ypres. The poem was first published on Eighth December of that year in London magazine Punch. It became popular immediately and today “In Flanders’ Fields” is one of the most quoted First World War poems, especially in Canada where it is one of the nation’s best known literary works.
Because of the poems references to red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers, the remembrance poppy became one of the world's most poignant memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict.
The remembrance poppy is closely associated with Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, and Veteran’s Day. The armistice for the First World War came into effect on the 11thhour of the 11thday of the 11thmonth in 1918. Since then the day has come to be a day of remembrance for those who died in conflict and a time to reflect on the dreadful consequences of war. Often two minutes’ silence is observed at 11a.m.
Today on the centenary of the end of the First World War World Leaders have gathered in Paris to remember those who fought and died.
Author The Cypher Bureau (How the Poles solved Enigma)
Poland, having ceased to exist for 123 years as a result of occupation by German, Austrian and Russian Empires, emerged from the First World War as a country reborn, fresh with ideals. Woman were granted the vote in 1918 and the future looked bright. However, Poland’s newly found freedom was soon overshadowed by German and Soviet interest in regaining what they regarded as their ‘lost territories.’ Sandwiched between Germany and Russia, Poland was only too aware of her vulnerable position. The Polish Cypher Bureau intensified efforts to break the Enigma code, the code Germany began using in 1926 to send confidential messages. The Poles needed to know what their German neighbours were up to, this desperation was a factor in the Poles being first to crack the Enigma code in 1932. As Germany became increasingly clear about her expansionist plans the 11thof November was chosen as National Independence Day in 1937 and was declared a national day of holiday and celebration. This date was chosen as it was the day in 1918 that Marshal Josef Pilsudski assumed control of Poland thereby restoring Polish independence and sovereignty. The holiday was celebrated only twice before World War II. By the 6thOctober 1939 Poland was under brutal Nazi and Soviet control. After the war, the communist authorities of the People's Republic removed Independence Day from the calendar. Poland, disappeared behind the Iron Curtain and was not invited to attend the Allied Victory Parade in London on 6thOctober 1946 despite the decisive roles in the victory which had been played by the Poles. The Cypher Bureau and broken Enigma and experienced Polish pilots played a pivotal role in the Battle of Britain. Poland endured many years of oppression. Finally, the eyes of the world turned to Poland’s plight on 16thOctober 1978, when the Archbishop of Krackow was appointed Pope and took the name of John Paul II. On 14thAugust 1980 Lech Walesa was appointed leader of the Solidarity party. During the 1980s, in many cities, including Warsaw, informal marches and celebrations were held, with the outlawed Solidarity Movementsupporters participating in the celebrations of National Independence Day. Typically, these marches were brutally dispersed with many participants arrested and tortured by the secret police. When Poland emerged from Soviet control in 1989, the original holiday finally was restored.
National Independence Day corresponds to Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, and Veterans Day. These holidays and Polish Independence Day are related because they all arose following World War I. In other countries, the holidays were established as a result of grief and horror at the enormous human cost of the war, and they mark the sacrifices of those who fought. The Polish holiday is simultaneously a celebration of the independence of a Polish state and a commemoration of those who fought for it.
2018 sees the centenary year and it is being celebrated worldwide. The holiday has a lesser uptake than expected in Poland, perhaps because many Polish residents do not feel that Poland has been truly independent for one hundred years. For many Poles a true sense of freedom may only have arrived with Poland’s entry into the European Union on First May 2004.
Author The Cypher Bureau (How the Poles cracked Enigma)
President of France, Emmanuel Macron’s decision that it was appropriate to honour Marshal Phillipe Petain for his service in World War One has opened deep wounds over one of the darkest periods of French history.
Following Hitler’s Blitzkreig on 1st September 1939 coupled with Soviet invasion on 17th September Poland, who never formally surrendered was under Nazi and Soviet control by 6th October 1939. Holland and Belgium, although both had declared themselves neutral, subsequent to invasion on 10th May 1940 were under Nazi control. (On 28th May Belgian forces surrendered and on 14th May Dutch forces laid down their weapons.)
When France was attacked on 10th May she was completely unprepared. In the aftermath of Dunkirk (26thMay to 4th June) the forty thousand French soldiers left on the beaches were captured and transported to prisoner of war camps in Germany. Defeat to many seemed inevitable. Urgent pleas for assistance were made to the USA and Britain but no help was forthcoming. The French Government was faced either with surrendering, seeking an armistice with Germany or fleeing to London to operate a Government in Exile there as did the Governments of Poland, Holland and Belgium. In a France still scared by the effects of World War I, a war fought primarily on her own soil in which she had sustained the largest losses per head of population, the French government voted by a narrow majority to seek an armistice. The French president Reynaud, who wanted to continue fighting resigned. Respected war hero, Phillipe Petain, the Lion of Verdun was appointed on 16th June as a result. Pétain was at that time eighty-four years of age. He had been presented with the baton of Marshal on France on 8th December 1918 as a result of his leadership during the notorious nine-month long Battle of Verdun during which around 162 000 French soldiers had lost their lives. Petain had been credited by historians, as "without a doubt, the most accomplished defensive tactician of any army" and "one of France's greatest military heroes".
Petain’s request for an armistice with Nazi Germany angered many French citizens. Hitler offered generous terms- France was to retain control of her foreign territories and administrative control over most of France although German military would operate in the Occupied Zone which included Paris. The armistice was signed on 22nd June 1940. The agreement was in fact a humiliating defeat. France was obliged to pay for the Nazi occupation and two million French soldiers were sent to prisoner of war and work camps in Germany. As head of Vichy France, Petain replaced the aspirational motto of "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity" with "Work, Family and Country".
The Vichy Government voluntarily introduced its own Jewish legislation on 3rd October 1940. The legislation had the effect of depriving Jews of certain civil rights and Petain is alleged to have personally intervened to ensure the legislation applied not only to foreign Jews but French Jewish citizens as well. On 30thOctober 1940, following a meeting with Hitler a few days earlier Petian made a broadcast on French radio stating “I enter today on the path of collaboration.” and invited his countrymen to join him on the journey.
The Vichy government cooperated with Nazi Germany, hunting down both foreign and French Jews and turning them over to the Gestapo for transport to extermination camps.
The Vichy regime denaturalized 1500 French citizens primarily Jews but including gypsies, freemasons, communists and homosexuals leaving them liable to deportation
After World War II, Pétain was tried and convicted for treason. He was originally sentenced to death, but following intervention by Charles de Gaulle (who himself had been tried in absence and condemned to death by the Vichy regime) as a result of his age and service during World War I the sentence was commuted to life in prison. Petain died in 1951 aged ninety-five.
Author The Cypher Bureau (How the Poles solved Enigma)
KRISTALLNACHT, NIGHT OF THE BROKEN GLASS, CRYSTAL NIGHT
Kristallnacht, so named because of the shards of broken glass which littered the streets in towns, cities and villages around Germany in its aftermath, occurred during the night of the 9thNovember and through the 10thof November in Nazi occupied territories which at that time comprised Germany and Austria.
Just before midnight on the 9thNovember, Gestapo chief Heinrich Muller instructed all police chiefs in Nazi Germany not to interfere with reprisals against Jews and their property and to arrest victims. Fire prevention companies were instructed to let Jewish property burn and only to interfere if Aryan property was at risk.
During Kristallnacht one thousand synagogues were burned or damaged, seven thousand five hundred Jewish business were looted or damaged. Jewish hospitals cemeteries and schools were vandalised. At least ninety-one Jews were killed and thirty thousand Jewish men were arrested and imprisoned in concentration camps at Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen.
Whilst Kristallnacht was fuelled by agent provocateurs under Hitler’s instruction, in many cases persons known to the victims participated in the violence. This would appear to demonstrate the success of the Nazi propaganda measures which had begun in 1933 to dehumanise the Jewish population and desensitise and immobilise the civilian population.
In January 1933 Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. He did not lose any time in wielding the power of his appointment. There was a public burning of books by Jewish and anti-Nazi authors. On the First of April there was a one-day boycott of Jewish businesses. The Department of Racial Hygiene (Ethnic Cleansing) was established.
In 1934 Jews were excluded from military service and Jewish students were excluded from sitting exams in dentistry, medicine, pharmacy and law. Thirtieth June 1934 and the days following saw the Night of the Long Knives when Hitler authorised the death without trial of members of his own National Socialist party who not actively supporting him. A chilling message to anyone seeking to oppose Hitler or his government.
In 1935 the Nuremburg laws restricted civil rights for Jews and mixed race/blood marriages were outlawed. In 1936 Jewish teachers were no longer permitted to work in government schools.In 1937Jewish children were excluded from state schools in Berlin. 1938 saw
an acceleration in the anti-Jewish measures with Jews forbidden to change their surname or use an alias in January.Jews were banned from working as auctioneers in February. Prohibited from owning a gun shop or trading weapons in July. Ordered to add either “Israel” or “Sara” to their given names in August. In September Jewish doctors were prohibited from treating non-Jewish patients. In October Jews were obliged to have a large red ‘J’ stamped on their passports.
With Kristallnacht on the night of the 9thNovember Hitler effectively declared war on the Jewish population. It was no longer safe for Jews to stay in Nazi Germany. The Holocaust has begun.
#neverforget #neveragain #onthisday #kristallnacht
Author The Cypher Bureau