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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.

Selected article

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

Joel Brand
Joel Brand (April 25, 1906 – July 13, 1964) was a Hungarian sailor and odd-job man who became known for his role during the Holocaust in trying to save the Hungarian-Jewish community from deportation to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Described by historian Yehuda Bauer as a brave adventurer who felt at home in underground conspiracies and card-playing circles, Brand teamed up with fellow Zionists in Budapest to form the Aid and Rescue Committee, a group that helped Jewish refugees in Nazi-occupied Europe escape to the relative safety of Hungary, before the Germans invaded that country too in March 1944. Shortly after the invasion, Brand was asked by SS officer Adolf Eichmann to help broker a deal between the SS and the United States or Britain. Eichmann said he would release up to one million Hungarian Jews, if the Western Allies would supply Germany with 10,000 trucks and large quantities of soap, tea, and coffee.

The negotiations, described by The Times as one of the most loathsome stories of the war, became known as the "blood for goods" proposal. Nothing came of it and historians can only guess whether Eichmann's offer was genuine. There are theories that it was a trick intended to persuade the Jewish community to board the trains to Auschwitz thinking they were being resettled, or that it was a cover for high-ranking SS officials to negotiate a peace deal with the U.S. and Britain that excluded the Soviet Union and perhaps even Adolf Hitler himself.

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Beijing Castle Boxer Rebellion 1900 FINAL.jpg

An attack on Beijing Castle during the Boxer Rebellion, September 1900. The Boxer Rebellion was a nationalist movement by "Righteous Harmony Society" against European and Christian influence; it failed, and China was forced to pay an incremental reprimand of 67 million pounds to the European countries that put it down.

On this day

November 14: World Diabetes Day

The ruins of the old Coventry Cathedral
The ruins of the old Coventry Cathedral

Marie François Xavier Bichat (b. 1771) · John Lumsden (b. 1869) · Andrew Inglis Clark (d. 1907)

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Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to one another. No one has any right, nor any preference to claim over another. You are brothers.

— Muhammad, 7th century Islamic prophet

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Middle Ages

"The ultimate binding element in the medieval order was subordination to the divine will and its earthly representatives, notably the pope."
Irving Babbitt

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