December 22, 2018

DECEMBER 22 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

DECEMBER 22

1941

Churchill at Washington Conference:  Winston Churchill met with Franklin D. Roosevelt in Washington, DC for the First Washington Conference, also called the Arcadia Conference.   The leaders and a team of political aides conducted very candid discussions which concluded with several major decisions that shaped the war effort in 1942-1943; the decision to invade North Africa in 1942; to send American bombers to bases in England; and for the British to strengthen their forces in the Pacific.  Moreover, the Conference created the Combined Chiefs of Staff, headquartered in Washington, which approved and finalized all military decisions.  Arcadia was the first meeting on military strategy between Britain and the United States; it came two weeks after the American entry into World War II. Despite domestic pressure in the U.S. to concentrate the war on Japan, Roosevelt was resolute to approach a "Europe First" strategy - that to win the war the primary objective was to defeat the Nazis.


1989

Berlin Wall Reopened:   Following the end of WWII,  vehicles and pedestrians were able to travel freely through the gate located in East Berlin, that is, until the Berlin Wall was built on August 13, 1961. The next day authorities closed the gate border crossing which separated  east and west sectors of the city. From 1945 to 1957, the Soviet flag flew from atop the gate, but was replaced by an East German flag. During the 1953 riots in East Berlin the Soviet flag was ripped down by protesting West Germans.  In 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy visited the Brandenburg Gate. The Soviets hung large red banners across it to prevent him looking into East Berlin.  On June 12, 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan addressed the people of West Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate, and issued a demand to Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!".  On December 22, 1989, the Brandenburg Gate border crossing was reopened when Helmut Kohl, the West German chancellor, walked through to be greeted by Hans Modrow, the East German prime minister.  Demolition of the rest of the wall around the area took place the following year.


1990

Lech Wałęsa was sworn in as Poland's President.  He was Poland's first freely-elected head of state in 63 years, and the first non-Communist head of state in 45 years.  During his presidency, Wałęsa saw Poland through privatization and transition to a free-market economy (the Balcerowicz Plan), Poland's 1991 first completely free parliamentary elections, and a period of redefinition of the country's foreign relations. He successfully negotiated the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Poland and won a substantial reduction in foreign debts, and supported Poland's entry into NATO and the European Union, though both occurred after his presidency. (nb: While working at the Lenin Shipyard (now Gdańsk Shipyard), Wałęsa became a trade-union activist founding the Solidarity movement. Consequently was persecuted and hounded by the communist authorities, placed under surveillance, fired in 1976, and arrested many times.  In August 1980 he was instrumental in negotiations that led to the ground-breaking Gdańsk Agreement between striking workers and the government. In 1983 Lech Walesa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, followed by more than 50 awards from 30 countries.)



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