Around the World | 1912-1961


  • Founding of the African National Congress in Bloemfontein, South Africa


  • June 28 Archduke Ferdinand of Austria assassinated. Start of WWI
  • August 15 Panama Canal opened for shipping
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs published Tarzan of the Apes, the first in a series


  • British super liner Lusitania sunk by German submarine, loss of 1,153 lives


  • Tanks used for the first time by British in the Battle of the Somme
  • Edward Sharpey Schafer, British psychologist, identified the site for a hypothetical hormone, he called insulin which controlled food metabolism


  • Russia lost 5.5 million troops on eastern front against Germany - Lenin lead the Bolsheviks and established All Russian Congress of Soviets


  • November 11 an armistice was signed ending the First World War
  • Oswald Spengler greatly impacted Germans with the publication of Decline of the West
  • Bela Bartok produced his brooding opera “Bluebeard’s Castle”


  • World powers convene in Paris to sign the Treaty of Versailles
  • League of Nations formed to preserve peace


  • Adolf Hitler became the 7th member of National Socialist German Workers Party, “Nazi Party”
  • X-ray method to detect finger prints developed in France


  • Hermann Rorschach, psychologist, introduced the ink-blot tests


  • Mussolini demanded a fascist government in Italy
  • Kemal Ataturk drove the Greeks from Turkey
  • Tomb of King Tutanhkhamun opened by Howard Carter
  • BCG tuberculosis vaccine introduced in France


  • Attempted coup by Adolf Hitler sent him to jail for 5 years
  • September earthquake in Tokyo results is death of 150,000 people


  • January 21 Lenin died; Joseph Stalin took control of the party
  • Founding of the Turkish Republic


  • Scottish inventor John Logie Baird demonstrated the television system


  • Haile Selassie acceded to the thrown as Emperor of Abyssinia
  • Mahatma Gandhi began his campaign of civil disobedience
  • Karl Landsteiner won the Nobel Prize for discovering different types of human blood


  • Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Party, invited to become Chancellor of Germany


  • British historian, Arnold Toynbee, published Vol. I of A Study of History
  • Enrico Fermi discovered that a chain reaction of nuclear fission could be achieved with uranium


  • German troops, violating the Treaty of Versalles, entered the demilitarized Rhineland
  • Germany, Italy and Japan signed mutual aid pact


  • German dive-bombers destroyed a Basque city
  • Japan invaded China
  • Oxford University academic, J. R. R. Tolkein, published The Hobbit - first in great series


  • German oppression of the Jews, “Kristalnacht” - shops attacked, 30,000 to concentration camps


  • August: Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact signed
  • September 1:Germany invaded Poland
  • Sigmund Freud died in London


  • German forces occupied Denmark
  • “Battle of Britain” was fought in the skies over southern England


  • Germany occupied part of Russia; by September Leningrad was surrounded


  • War in Europe and north Africa expands


  • Manhattan Project achieve first operational nuclear reactor
  • First portable kidney dialysis machine


  • June 6 D-Day: British, US, and Canadian forces landed on the beaches in Normandy
  • Age of Jets introduced with the RAF’s “Gloster Meteor” and Lufwaffe’s “Messerschmitt”


  • April 21: Soviet troops entered Berlin
  • April 30: Hitler committed suicide
  • May 7: Germany finally capitulated
  • August 6:U.S. B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima
  • August 9: U.S. dropped a second atomic bomb on Japan, on the city of Nagasaki
  • August 15: Japan officially surrendered
  • Structure and function of the United Nations Organization agreed on


  • October 7: The Chinese People’s Republic proclaimed
  • Establishment of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)


  • Korean War started when communist North Korea invaded South Korea
  • India became an independent democratic republic under Jawaharlal Nehru


  • Soviet Union tested an atomic bomb
  • Winston Churchill’ Conservatives returned to power in Britain


  • Elizabeth II became queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Mau Mau started seven year anti-colonial campaign in Kenya


  • The Korean War ended with an armistice signed in Panmunjom
  • Dag Hammarskjold became influential Secretary-General of the United Nation
  • Joseph Stalin died


  • Gamal Abdel Nasser became Prime Minister of Egypt
  • Viet Minh defeated the French at Dien Bien Phu and Ho Chi Minh (in Hanoi) started the communist campaign against Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon


  • Juan Peron, President of Argentina, forced into exile
  • Russian-born Vladimir Nabokov published his most famous novel, Lolita


  • The Suez Canal was nationalized by Nasser. Israel, Britain and France attacked Egypt
  • Hungary invaded by Soviet troops to crush anti-communist revolt


  • Sputnik I launched by the Soviet Union
  • Boris Pasternak expressed his disappointment in the Russian Revolution in Dr Zhivago


  • Charles de Gaulle, by public demand, became president of France
  • Fidel Castro began total civil war against the Batista regime


  • Fidel Castro takes over regime in Cuba
  • Archbishop Makarios, exiled Cypriot leader, returned to Cyprus to head a provisional government


  • South African police opened fire on black demonstrators in Sharpeville killing 67 people
  • Mrs. Bandaranaike of Ceylon, became the first female head of state in the modern world


  • Bay of Pigs invasion failed attempting to oust Fidel Castro in Cuba
  • Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel in space, completing a single earth orbit aboard the capsule Vostock

Sources - Inter Alia:
(1.) Beazley, Mitchell (ed.): Time Lines: World History Year by Year since 1492. New York Crescent Books, 1991
(2.) Grun, Bernard: The Timetables of History. New York, Simon Schuster/Touchstone, 1991

By Brian du Toit  - Transylvania Sesquicentennial Steering Committee


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