Category Archives: History

July 31

Primo Levi: Chemistry and the Holocaust

On the 31st of July 1919, the Italian Jewish chemist and writer Primo Levi was born in Turin, Italy. A survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, he emerged after the war as one of the most incisive and candid intellects among those writers who had experienced the Holocaust. He grew up during the years preceding […]

July 22

Emma Lazarus: A Question of Liberty

On the 22nd of July 1849, poet Emma Lazarus was born in New York City. “No poet bears so monumental a relation to Atlantic liberalism as Emma Lazarus, who is known chiefly as the author of the famous lines of “world-wide welcome” inscribed in bronze within the massive pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in […]

July 12

The Mercantile Reign of Julius Caesar

On the 12th or of July 100 BC Julius Caesar is believed to have been born in Rome, Italy, although this date is debatable. A legendary historical figure, he is renown for opposing the military dictator Sulla as a teenager and almost losing his life over it. In his illustrious military career he was decorated […]

July 06

Marc Bloch on Thaumaturgy

On the 6th of July 1886, French Jewish historian Marc L. B. Bloch was born in Lyon, France. Known as the cofounder of the Annales School of French social history, Bloch is considered a quintessential modernist. Born into an academic Alsacian family, he studied in Berlin and Leipzig, fought in the trenches of the Western […]

June 30

Showmanship and Mass Frenzy: Blondin’s Niagara Stunt

On the 30th of June 1859, French acrobat Charles Blondin crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope. “About 25,000 thrill-seekers arrived by train and steamer and dispersed on the American or Canadian side of the falls (…) Both banks grew “fairly black” with swarms of spectators, among them statesmen, judges, clerics, generals, members of Congress, capitalists, […]

June 26

WWII Heroines: Violette Szabo

On the 26th of June 1921, Violette Szabo, daughter of an English cabbie and a French dressmaker was born in Paris. Raised in Britain, she married at a young age, but lost her husband when he was killed fighting against the Germans, leaving behind a young daughter. A skilled shot with a rifle who could speak […]

June 17

The Guillotine: Does death by decapitation equal instant death?

On the 17th of June 1939, Eugen Weidmann, a convicted murderer, was guillotined in Versailles outside Saint-Pierre prison. He was the last person to be guillotined in public. Since then, until the 10th of September 1977 and the last ever execution by guillotine performed on Hamida Djandoubi, all executions by guillotine were done in private. […]