On This Day, July 31, 1941 – Goering Orders ‘Final Solution’ for the Jews
1941 – Herman Goering, writing under instructions from Hitler, ordered Reinhard Heydrich, SS general and Heinrich Himmler’s number-two man, “to submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question.”
Goering recounted briefly the outline for that “final solution” that had been drawn up on January 24, 1939: “emigration and evacuation in the best possible way.” This program of what would become mass, systematic extermination was to encompass “all the territories of Europe under German occupation.”
Heydrich already had some experience with organizing such a plan, having reintroduced the cruel medieval concept of the ghetto in Warsaw after the German occupation of Poland. Jews were crammed into cramped walled areas of major cities and held as prisoners, as their property was confiscated and given to either local Germans or non-Jewish Polish peasants.
Behind this horrendous scheme, carried out month by month, country by country, was Hitler, whose “greatest weakness was found in the vast numbers of oppressed peoples who hated [him] and the immoral ways of his government.” This assessment was Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s, given at a Kremlin meeting that same day, July 31, with American adviser to the president Harry Hopkins.
1498 – Christopher Columbus, on his third voyage to the Western Hemisphere, arrived at the island of Trinidad.
1790 – The first U.S. patent was issued to Samuel Hopkins for his process for making potash and pearl ashes. The substance was used in fertilizer.
1792 – The cornerstone of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, PA, was laid. It was the first building to be used only as a U.S. government building.
1919 – Germany’s Weimar Constitution was adopted.
1928 – MGM’s Leo the lion roared for the first time. He introduced MGM’s first talking picture, “White Shadows on the South Seas.”
1932 – Enzo Ferrari retired from racing. In 1950 he launched a series of cars under his name.
1945 – Pierre Laval of France surrendered to Americans in Austria.
1948 – U.S. President Harry Truman helped dedicate New York International Airport (later John F. Kennedy International Airport) at Idlewild Field.
1955 – Marilyn Bell of Toronto, Canada, at age 17, became the youngest person to swim the English Channel.
1959 – The Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) was founded. The group is known for being an armed Basque nationalist and separatist organization.
1961 – The first tie in All-Star Game major league baseball history was recorded when it was stopped in the 9th inning due to rain at Boston’s Fenway Park.
1964 – The American space probe Ranger 7 transmitted pictures of the moon’s surface.
1969 – A Moscow police chief reported that thousands of Moscow telephone booths had been made inoperable by thieves who had stolen phone parts in order to convert their acoustic guitars to electric.
1971 – Men rode in a vehicle on the moon for the first time in a lunar rover vehicle (LRV).
1981 – The seven-week baseball players’ strike came to an end when the players and owners agreed on the issue of free agent compensation.
1982 – Yugoslavia imposed a six-month freeze on prices.
1989 – A pro-Iranian group in Lebanon released a videotape reportedly showing the hanged body of American hostage William R. Higgins.
1989 – The Game Boy handheld video game device was released in the U.S.
1991 – U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
1995 – The Walt Disney Company agreed to acquire Capital Cities/ABC in a $19 billion deal.
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1999 – The spacecraft Lunar Prospect crashed into the moon. It was a mission to detect frozen water on the moon’s surface. The craft had been launched on January 6, 1998.
Source: On-This-Day.com; History.com