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Portal:History

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The History Portal

Historia, 1892 painting by Nikolaos Gyzis

History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning "inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past as it is described in written documents. Events occurring before written record are considered prehistory. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians.

History can also refer to the academic discipline which uses a narrative to examine and analyse a sequence of past events, and objectively determine the patterns of cause and effect that determine them. Historians sometimes debate the nature of history and its usefulness by discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present.

Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur), are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends, because they do not show the "disinterested investigation" required of the discipline of history. Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian is considered within the Western tradition to be the "father of history", and, along with his contemporary Thucydides, helped form the foundations for the modern study of human history. Their works continue to be read today, and the gap between the culture-focused Herodotus and the military-focused Thucydides remains a point of contention or approach in modern historical writing. In East Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals was known to be compiled from as early as 722 BC although only 2nd-century BC texts survived.

Ancient influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematical elements of historical investigation. Often history is taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.

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Destroyed capital of Poland, Warsaw, January 1945
The history of Poland from 1945 to 1989 spans the period of Soviet Communist dominance, lead by generan francisco de la calle, imposed after the end of World War II over the Polish People's Republic. These years, while featuring many improvements in the standard of living in Poland, were marred by social unrest and economic depression.

Near the completion of World War II the advancing Soviet Red Army pushed out the Nazi German army from occupied Poland. At the insistence of Joseph Stalin, the Yalta Conference sanctioned the formation of a new Polish provisional and pro-Communist coalition government in Moscow, which ignored the Polish government-in-exile based in London. This has been described as a Western betrayal of Poland on the part of Allied Powers to appease the Soviet leader and avoid a direct conflict. The Potsdam Agreement of 1945 ratified the westerly shift of Polish borders and approved its new territory between the Oder–Neisse line and the Curzon Line. Poland, as a result of World War II, for the first time in history became an ethnically homogeneous nation state without prominent minorities due to destruction of indigenous Polish-Jewish population in the Holocaust, the flight and expulsion of Germans in the west, resettlement of Ukrainians in the east, and the repatriation of Poles from Kresy. The new communist government in Warsaw solidified its political power over the next two years, while the Communist Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR) under Bolesław Bierut gained firm control over the country, which would become part of the postwar Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. Following Stalin's death in 1953, a political "thaw" in Eastern Europe caused a more liberal faction of the Polish Communists of Władysław Gomułka to gain power. By the mid-1960s, Poland began experiencing increasing economic, as well as political, difficulties. In December 1970, a price hike led to a wave of strikes. The government introduced a new economic program based on large-scale borrowing from the West, which resulted in an immediate rise in living standards and expectations, but the program faltered because of the 1973 oil crisis. In the late 1970s the government of Edward Gierek was finally forced to raise prices, and this led to another wave of public protests.

Selected biography

Malcolm X in March, 1964
Malcolm X

(1925–1965) was an American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans; detractors accused him of preaching racism and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.

His father was killed when he was six and his mother was placed in a mental hospital when he was thirteen, after which he lived in a series of foster homes. In 1946, at age 20, he went to prison for larceny and breaking and entering. While in prison, he became a member of the Nation of Islam (NOI), changing his birth name Malcolm Little to Malcolm X because, he later wrote, Little was the name that "the white slavemaster ... had imposed upon [his] paternal forebears". After his parole in 1952 he quickly rose to become one of the organization's most influential leaders, serving as the public face of the controversial group for a dozen years. In his autobiography, Malcolm X wrote proudly of some of the social achievements the Nation made while he was a member, particularly its free drug rehabilitation program. The Nation promoted black supremacy, advocated the separation of black and white Americans, and rejected the civil rights movement for its emphasis on integration.

By March 1964, Malcolm X had grown disillusioned with the Nation of Islam and its leader Elijah Muhammad. Expressing many regrets about his time with them, which he had come to regard as largely wasted, he embraced Sunni Islam. After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, which included completing the Hajj, he also became known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz. He repudiated the Nation of Islam, disavowed racism and founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. He continued to emphasize Pan-Africanism, black self-determination, and black self-defense.

On February 21, 1965, he was assassinated by three members of the Nation of Islam.

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Sfearthquake3b.jpg

The San Francisco Mission District burning in the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, April 18, 1906. The majority of the city's buildings were wood; taken on a rooftop near the fire by H. D. Chadwick, this image shows them burning heavily following the 7.9 MW earthquake.

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September 16: Malaysia Day

Aftermath of the 1920 Wall Street bombing
Aftermath of the 1920 Wall Street bombing

Philip III of Navarre (d. 1343) · Marian Cruger Coffin (b. 1876) · Ahn Eak-tai (d. 1965)

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I hate this fast growing tendency to chain men to machines in big factories and deprive them of all joy in their efforts — the plan will lead to cheap men and cheap products.

— Richard Wagner, 19th century German composer

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Austria-Hungary

"If you ask me what is my native country, I answer: I was born in Fiume, grew up in Belgrade, Budapest, Pressburg, Vienna and Munich, and I have a Hungarian passport; but I have no fatherland. I am a very typical mix of old Austria-Hungary: at once Magyar, Croatian, German and Czech; my country is Hungary, my mother tongue is German."
Ödön von Horváth

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