On this day in 1854 – (162 years ago) – in Dusseldorf, Germany, the music composer Robert Schumann reached his breaking point. For years he had experienced irrational fears and mysterious moodswings, but now he was hearing voices, and seeing visions of angels and demons. Under cover of darkness, he left his home, hurried to a bridge over the Rhine River, and jumped. It was his second attempt at suicide, and he was foiled by a boatman who pulled him out of the water. Upon his own request, Schumann was then taken to a mental asylum in nearby Bonn. His music composing days were over, and he died there two years later at the age of forty-six.
On this day in 1861 – (154 years ago) – in Warsaw, Russian troops confronted unarmed street demonstrators who for weeks had been protesting Russian imperial domination of Poland. The Russians ordered the demonstrators to disperse. When the demonstrators refused to do so, the troops opened fire. Five protesters were killed, and many more were injured.
On this day in 1933 – (83 years ago) – in Berlin, the Reichstag building, meeting place of the German parliament, was set on fire by an arson attack. A mentally disturbed twenty-four-year-old Dutch communist naned Marinus van der Lubbe was caught red-handed, arrested, and later executed by beheading. Many historians now believe that van der Lubbe did not act alone, but had been set up and assisted by Nazi storm troopers in a false flag operation. At the time, however, Germany’s new chancellor, Adolf Hitler, publicly blamed the arson on a plot by communists, who were challenging his attempt to make himself the undisputed German dictator. The day after the fire, Hitler persuaded the elderly German president, Paul von Hindeburg, to sign an emergency decree, suspending constitutional civil liberties and authorizing the Nazis to begin the first major roundup of their political opposition. As the Reichstag smouldered in ruins, thousands of communists, social democrats, and liberals across Germany were arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. The Reichstag building would remain in ruins throughout World War II and the Cold War; it was restored and modernized only after German reunification in 1990.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi