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ON THIS DAY

20 July 1944: Hitler survives assassination attempt. Adolf Hitler has escaped death after a bomb exploded at 1242 local time at his headquarters in Rastenberg, East Prussia. The German News Agency broke the news from Hitler’s headquarters, known as the “wolf’s lair”, his command post for the Eastern Front. A senior officer, Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, has been blamed for planting the bomb at a meeting at which Hitler and other senior members of the General Staff were present. Hitler has sustained minor burns and concussion but, according to the news agency, managed to keep his appointment with Italian leader Benito Mussolini. Hermann Goering, Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe and Hitler’s designated successor, went to see Hitler when he heard about the attack. The German News Agency said the German people were deeply grateful that no serious harm had come to their leader and that fate had allowed him to “accomplish his great task”. “The attempt which has failed must be a warning to every German to redouble his war effort,” said the newsreader. And the deputy head of the press, Helmut Suendermann, stated: “The German people must consider the failure of the attempt on Hitler’s life as a sign that Hitler will complete his tasks under the protection of a divine power.” This is the third attempt on Hitler’s life and underlines the tension in Germany now faced with a two-front war as the allies take northern France and the Red Army close in on the Reich. This week has seen the heaviest American bombing of Germany since they
entered the war. The 8th Air Force from Britain and the 15th Air Force from Italy sent about 5,500 heavy bombers and some 4,000 fighter planes to attack oil and aircraft stores in Germany and Austria. The Soviet Army has made major advances on the front line between Brest-Litovsk and Lvov – a strategic city that is the key to capturing southern Poland. (Source: BBC)

21 July 1954: Peace deal ends Indo-China war. The major world powers have reached agreement on the terms for a ceasefire in Indo-China, ending nearly eight years of war. The war began in 1946 between nationalist forces of the Communist Viet Minh under leader Ho Chi Minh and France, the occupying colonial power. But there is no lasting agreement on peace in Korea, the main subject of the talks in Geneva, Switzerland between France, Britain, the USA, the USSR, China and countries of Indo-China. The news of a ceasefire has come as a great relief in Europe and the United States. The newly appointed French Prime Minister, Pierre Mendes-France, had set a deadline for an agreement that was finally signed in the early hours of this morning. This afternoon he told the French Parliament he had achieved his aim of “an honourable settlement” to end a war that has cost at least 300,000 lives. However, there is concern that the terms of the Geneva Accord concede too much to the Viet Minh – not least in the United States which gave $385m to equip the Vietnamese Army. (Source: BBC)

21 July 1969: Man takes first steps on the Moon. American Neil Armstrong has become the first man to walk on the Moon. The astronaut stepped onto the Moon’s surface, in the Sea of Tranquility, at 0256 GMT, nearly 20 minutes after first opening the hatch on the Eagle landing craft. Armstrong had earlier reported the lunar module’s safe landing at 2017 GMT with the words: “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” As he put his left foot down first Armstrong declared: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” He described the surface as being like powdered charcoal and the landing craft left a crater about a foot deep. The historic moments were captured on television cameras installed on the Eagle and turned on by Armstrong. (Source: BBC)

25 July 1943: Italian dictator Mussolini quits. The Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, is reported to have stepped down as head of the armed forces and the government. King Victor Emmanuel has assumed

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