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Funeral held for the man behind the guillotine

Funeral held for the man behind the guillotine

The funeral of Dr. Guillotin had what he felt were the purest motives for inventing the guillotine and was deeply distressed at how his reputation had become besmirched in the aftermath. Guillotin had bestowed the deadly contraption on the French as a “philanthropic gesture” for the systematic criminal justice reform that was taking place in 1789. The machine was intended to show the intellectual and social progress of the French Revolution; by killing aristocrats and journeymen the same way, equality in death was ensured.

The first use of the guillotine was on April 25, 1792, when Nicolas Pelletier was put to death for armed robbery and assault in Place de Greve. The newspapers reported that guillotine was not an immediate sensation. The crowds seemed to miss the gallows at first. However, it quickly caught on with the public and many thought it brought dignity back to the executioner.

However, the prestige of the guillotine fell precipitously due to its frequent use in the French Terror following the Revolution. It became the focal point of the awful political executions and was so closely identified with the terrible abuses of the time that it was perceived as partially responsible for the excesses itself. Still, it was used sporadically in France into the 20th century.

READ MORE: 8 Things You May Not Know About the Guillotine


Wake (ceremony)

A wake is a social gathering associated with death, usually held before a funeral. Traditionally, a wake takes place in the house of the deceased with the body present however, modern wakes are often performed at a funeral home or another convenient location. A wake is also sometimes held in place of a funeral as a social celebration of the person's life. In the United States and Canada it is synonymous with a viewing. It is often a social rite that highlights the idea that the loss is one of a social group and affects that group as a whole. [1] In the United Kingdom and some other parts of the Commonwealth, where it is not customary to have a public viewing ceremony before the funeral, the term is sometimes used for a gathering held after the funeral. [2]

The term originally referred to a late-night prayer vigil but is now mostly used for the social interactions accompanying a funeral. While the modern usage of the verb wake is "become or stay alert", a wake for the dead harks back to the vigil, "watch" or "guard" of earlier times. It is a misconception that people at a wake are waiting in case the deceased should "wake up". [3]

The term wake was originally used to denote a prayer vigil, often an annual event held on the feast day of the saint to whom a parish church was dedicated. [4] Over time the association with prayer has become less important, although not lost completely, [5] and in many countries a wake is now mostly associated with the social interactions accompanying a funeral. [3]

It used to be the custom in most Celtic countries in Europe for mourners to keep watch or vigil over their dead until they were buried – this was called a "wake". This is still common in Ireland, North-western Scotland, and in the North of England.

With the change to the more recent practice of holding the wake at a funeral home rather than the home, the custom of providing refreshment to the mourners is often held directly after the funeral at the house or another convenient location.

The wake or the viewing of the body is a prominent part of death rituals in many cultures. This ceremony allows one last interaction with the corpse, providing a time for the living to express their emotions and beliefs about death with the deceased. [6]


Contents

Ritualised behaviour in history has been seen as promoting and maintaining the emotional wellbeing of the individual, as well as the social cohesion of the wider group(Wass & Niemeyer, 2012). The process of viewing the body of the deceased is a ritual that is presumed to predate human history. Viewing the body is believed to be a fundamental part of coming to terms with the death of another human, across cultures throughout time. [5] The primitive nature of viewing the body serves the most basic need to understand and adapt to the reality of death.

Although, in many parts of the world, viewings are seen to be declining in popularity, as death and dying become increasingly institutionalised. However, closed caskets, or no casket, is becoming a more standard practice today. [5]

United Kingdom Edit

Early in the 20th century it was common to view the body after death, but today in the United Kingdom it is usual to have a closed casket for the funeral, and people may not see the body beforehand. [6]

United States Edit

It has become a common practice among all religious faiths in America to display the body of the deceased as part of the funeral ritual or service. It is argued by authors, Maurice Lamm and Naftali Eskreis that ‘viewings’ are a custom of recent American origin and have no roots in ancient culture or contemporary European culture except for the "lying in state" of kings and emperors. [7]

Psychological Edit

Mark Harris, in his book Grave Matters, describes some as finding viewings comforting, especially if the death was sudden, as it brings them to terms with their loss, while others find it uncomfortable and choose not to have a viewing. [8] In an article published in 1966, Viewing the remains: A new American custom, authors Maurice Lamm and Naftali Eskreis argue that viewing the corpse can be seen as paying one’s last respects to the deceased and a necessary aspect of “grief therapy”, which allows mourners to see the deceased as they would like to remember them. [7]

According to Dr Therese A. Rando, in the book Complicated Grieving and Bereavement, complications arise when a person chooses not to or is unable to view the body. Seeing the body assimilates the reality and allows the shock and denial to ease and allow for grieving to begin. [5] This view, however, has been challenged by authors such as Maurice Lamm and Naftali Eskreisdelay who point out that it may prolong the natural grieving process rather than provide comfort. [7]

A 2012 study, Family Members' Experiences with Viewing in the Wake of Sudden Death, conducted by Christina Harrington and Bethany Sprowl, looked at the consequences that viewing the body after a traumatic death has on bereaved relatives and whether it should be encouraged. The study revealed that viewing the body ultimately cemented the reality of death, and although it was found to be shocking or distressing to family members, only few in the study said they regretted it. [9] A 2010 study conducted by BMJ, however, revealed that, following a traumatic death causing disfigurement, professionals may be reluctant to allow viewing because as they fear that relatives will leave with unpleasant, uninvited memories. [6]

Religious Edit

In the text, ‘Complicated Grieving and Bereavement: Understanding and Treating People Experiencing Loss’, viewings can be seen as allowing for those mourning to move from a physically present relationship to a spiritual relationship based on memory. Furthermore, physically seeing the body marks the end of the physical in order to begin a new spiritual relationship. [5]

However, in the 1966 article ‘Viewing the remains: A new American custom’ from the Journal of Religion and Health, reveals that in some religions see the process of viewing the body of the deceased as disregarding the rights of the deceased and detracting from the religious significance placed on life and death. [7]

Legal Edit

In the article ‘Viewing the body after bereavement due to a traumatic death: qualitative study in the UK’, the process of embalming is generally a legal requirement when transporting human remains long distances, which is common if the funeral and or viewing is to take place in another location. In some cases, the police officer or the coroner’s officer will observe a viewing again for forensic reasons. [6]

A viewing usually takes place at the funeral parlour, however, can occur in a place of worship such as a church or at home. [7] The location of the viewing is often determined by one’s culture and/or religion.

Viewing Edit

A viewing is when the body is on display and viewed by family and friends or in some cases the public, in order to commemorate the deceased. [4] However, the viewing process for each person varies due to differences in religion, culture, background, etc.

Visitation Edit

A visitation, also known as visiting hours, is when friends and family congregate to remember and celebrate the deceased, and the body may or may not be present and unlike a viewing it can take place wherever you want it to be, there is no need to bear the funeral home costs. [4]

Transportation Edit

There is a lot of preparation that goes into a viewing, such as removing the body from the place of death such as the hospital or home and transporting it to a funeral establishment. [7]

Embalming Edit

The body is embalmed through chemicals, which prevents the body from decaying and to allow the body to be transported to another location and or to allow for family and friends who live afar to say goodbye. [7]

Presentation Edit

The body is dressed neatly and often covered with cosmetics to ensure the body is presented in the best possible way. The body is then placed in a casket which is either left open if it’s a viewing or closed if it is a visitation. Presentation could be preservation of the body (embalming) to provide a better, safer viewing expereince. [7]

Christian Edit

Most denominations in Christianity allow the body to be embalmed and viewed by loved ones. It is generally up to the family to decide whether they prefer to have a viewing or not, rather than that of the church.

Judaism Edit

Traditional Judaism law rejects viewings in the funeral process as one cannot and should not comfort the mourners while the dead lie before them, instead comfort and relief come after the funeral and burial. Jews believe that the soul leaves the body immediately after death to go back to heaven, in support of this belief the family goes through the funeral process very soon after death. To start the funeral, the deceased's clothing is cut into to show the tie between them and their loved ones being broken. [ citation needed ] To ask for forgiveness of the dead, during cleansing of the deceased a prayer is read so as to present them to god. [7]

Islam Edit

According to Islamic law, the body should be buried as soon after death as possible, therefore, due to the urgency in which the body must be buried, there is no viewing. [ citation needed ]

Hindu Edit

In Hinduism, viewings are allowed, and usually take place before the cremation. Cremation usually takes place near a river bank at The Burning Ghats directly after dipping the body into the river. [10] The body is to be displayed in a simple casket.

Buddhism Edit

Viewings are acceptable in Buddhism, and involve the deceased being washed, dressed in “everyday clothes” and placed in a simple casket. Washing the deceased signifies a new and somewhat backwards beginning. From the moment one has passed on everything that would have been done in their day to day life is now reversed, such as putting on an item of clothing backwards. In the Buddhist religion, to ensure that the deceased is able to cross the river from the world of the living, a coin or sometimes a betel leaf is placed in their mouth. [11] The viewing can last as long as the family desires. Since the 1940s, it has become more common for the coffin to be covered by a wooden lid. [11]

Maori Edit

In traditional Maori culture, most bodies are embalmed before being taken to the local marae where family and friends gather to pay their respects. A visitation takes place at the marae where family and friends sing songs, share food and speeches are given to remember the deceased. [12]

Aboriginal Edit

Christianity is the dominant religion in many Aboriginal communities however, aspects of traditional Aboriginal beliefs are often maintained as well. Traditional medicines such as sage and sweet grass are burned to purify the dead and all those present. Visitations help family, friends and clan members let go of the spirit of the deceased and help the grieving family move from feelings of anger and disbelief to acceptance and peace. If the grieving cycle is not complete, a person may be emotionally and mentally wounded through life. [13]


CHAPTER XLI LENIN’S DEATH AND THE SHIFT OF POWER

I was often asked, and even now I still am asked: “How could you lose power?” In most instances, the question covers a naive conception of letting some material object slip from one’s hands, as if losing power were the same thing as losing a watch or a notebook. But as a matter of fact, when the revolutionaries who directed the seizure of power begin at a certain stage to lose it, whether peacefully or through catastrophe, the fact in itself signifies either a decline in the influence of certain ideas and moods in the governing revolutionary circles, or the decline of revolutionary mood in the masses themselves. Or it may be both at the same time. The leading groups of the party that emerged from underground were inspired by the revolutionary tendencies which the leaders of the first period of the revolution were able to formulate clearly and to carry out completely and successfully in practice. It was exactly. Thus that made them the leaders of the party, and, through the party, leaders of the working class, and, through the working class, leaders of the country. It was thus that certain individuals had concentrated power in their hands. But the ideas of the first period of the revolution were imperceptibly losing their influence in the consciousness of the party stratum that held the direct power over the country.

In the country itself, processes were shaping themselves that one may sum up under the general name of reaction. These extended, in varying degree, to the working class as well, including even its party. The stratum that made up the apparatus of power developed its own independent aims and tried to subordinate the revolution to them. A division began to reveal itself between the leaders who expressed the historical line of the class and could see beyond the apparatus, and the apparatus itself – a huge, cumbrous, heterogeneous thing that easily sucked in the average communist. At first this division was more psychological than political in character. Yesterday was still too fresh in mind, the slogans of October had not had time to vanish from the memory, and the authority of the leaders of the first period was still strong. But under cover of the traditional forms, a different psychology was developing. The international prospects were growing dim. The everyday routine was completely absorbing the people. New methods, instead of serving the old aims, were creating new ones and, most of all, a new psychology. In the eyes of many, the temporary situation began to seem the ultimate goal. A new type was being evolved.

In the final analysis, revolutionaries are made of the same social stuff as other people. But they must have had certain very different personal qualities to enable the historical process to separate them from the rest into a distinct group. Association with one another, theoretical work, the struggle under a definite banner, collective discipline, the hardening under the fire of danger, these things gradually shape the revolutionary type. It would be perfectly legitimate to speak of the psychological type of the Bolshevik in contrast, for example, to that of the Menshevik. An eye sufficiently experienced could tell a Bolshevik from a Menshevik even by his outward appearance, with only a slight percentage of error.

This doesn’t mean, however, that a Bolshevik was always and in everything a Bolshevik. To absorb a certain philosophic out look into one’s flesh and blood, to make it dominate one’s consciousness, and to co-ordinate with it one’s sensory world is given not to every one but to only a few. In the working masses, a substitute is found in the class instinct, which in critical periods attains a high degree of sensitiveness. But there are many revolutionaries in the party and the state who come from the masses but have long since broken away from them, and who, because of their position, are placed in a separate and distinct class. Their class instinct has evaporated. On the other hand, they lack the theoretical stability and outlook to envisage the process in its entirety. Their psychology retains many unprotected surfaces, which, with the change of circumstances, expose them to the easy penetration of foreign and hostile ideological influences. In the days of the underground struggle, of the uprisings, and the civil war, people of this type were merely soldiers of the party. Their minds had only one string, and that sounded in harmony with the party tuning-fork. But when the tension relaxed and the nomads of the revolutions passed on to settled living, the traits of the man in the street, the sympathies and tastes of self-satisfied officials, revived in them.

Quite frequently I heard isolated remarks of Kalinin, Voroshilov, Stalin or Rykov with alarm. Where does this come from? – I asked myself – from what well does it gush? When I came to a meeting and found groups engaged in conversation, often they would stop when they saw me. There was nothing directed against me in those conversations, nothing opposed to the principles of the party. But they showed an attitude of moral relaxation, of self-content and triviality. People began to feel an urge to pour out these new moods upon each other – moods in which the element of philistine gossip came to have a very prominent place. Heretofore they had realized the impropriety of this sort of thing not only in Lenin’s or my presence but even with one another. On occasions when vulgarity showed itself – for example, on the part of Stalin – Lenin, without even lifting his head from his papers, would look around as if trying to find some one else who was repelled by the remark. In such cases, a swift glance, or an intonation in the voice was enough to reveal indisputably to both of us our solidarity in these psychological appraisals.

If I took no part in the amusements that were becoming more and more common in the lives of the new governing stratum, it was not for moral reasons, but because I hated to inflict such boredom on myself. The visiting at each other’s homes, the assiduous attendance at the ballet, the drinking-parties at which people who were absent were pulled to pieces, had no attraction for me. The new ruling group felt that I did not fit in with this way of living, and they did not even try to win me over. It was for this very reason that many group conversations would stop the moment I appeared, and those engaged in them would cut them short with a certain shamefacedness and a slight bitterness toward me. This was, if you like, a definite indication that I had begun to lose power.

I am here limiting myself to the psychological aspect of the matter, and disregarding its social basis, that is, the changes in the anatomy of the revolutionary society. In the final reckoning, it is, of course, these latter changes that decide. But in actual life it is their psychological reflection that one encounters directly. The inner events were developing rather slowly, facilitating the molecular processes of the transformation of the upper stratum, and leaving no opening for contrasting the two irreconcilable positions before the masses. One must add that the new moods were for a long time, and still are, disguised by traditional formulas. This made it all the more difficult to determine how far the process of metabolism had gone. The Thermidor conspiracy at the end of the eighteenth century, prepared for by the preceding course of the revolution, broke out with a single blow and assumed the shape of a sanguinary finale. Our Thermidor was long drawn out. The guillotine found its substitute – at least for a while – in intrigue. The falsifying of the past, systematized on the conveyer plan, became a weapon for the ideological re arming of the official party. Lenin’s illness and the expectation of his return to the leadership made the temporary situation indefinite, and it lasted, with an interval, for over two years. If the revolution had been in the ascendancy, the delay would have played into the hands of the opposition. But the revolution on the international scale was suffering one defeat after another, and the delay accordingly played into the hands of the national reformism by automatically strengthening the Stalin bureaucracy against me and my political friends.

The out-and-out philistine, ignorant, and simply stupid baiting of the theory of permanent revolution grew from just these psychological sources. Gossiping over a bottle of wine or re turning from the ballet, one smug official would say to another:

“He can think of nothing but permanent revolution.” The accusations of unsociability, of individualism, of aristocratism, were closely connected with this particular mood. The sentiment of “Not all and always for the revolution, but something for oneself as well,” was translated as “Down with permanent revolution.” The revolt against the exacting theoretical demands of Marxism and the exacting political demands of the revolution gradually assumed, in the eyes of these people, the form of a struggle against “Trotskyism.” Under this banner, the liberation of the philistine in the Bolshevik was proceeding. It was because of this that I lost power, and it was this that determined the form which this loss took.

I have said before that Lenin, from his deathbed, was preparing a blow at Stalin and his allies, Dzerzhinsky and Ordzhonikidze. Lenin valued Dzerzhinsky highly. The estrangement began when Dzerzhinsky realized that Lenin did not think him capable of directing economic work. It was this that threw Dzerzhinsky into Stalin’s arms, and then Lenin decided to strike at him as one of Stalin’s supports. As for Ordzhonikidze, Lenin wanted to expel him from the party for his ways of a governor-general. Lenin’s note promising the Georgian Bolsheviks his full support against Stalin, Dzherzhinsky, and Ordzhonikidze was addressed to Mdivani. The fates of the four reveal most vividiy the sweeping change in the party engineered by the Stalin faction. After Lenin’s death, Dzerzhinsky was put at the head of the Supreme Economic Council, that is, in charge of all state industries. Ordzhonikidze, who had been slated for expulsion, has been made the head of the Central Control Commission. Stalin not only has remained the general secretary, contrary to Lenin’s wish, but has been given unheard-of powers by the apparatus. Finally, Budu Mdivani, whom Lenin supported against Stalin, is now in the Tobolsk prison. A similar “regrouping” has been effected in the entire directing personnel of the party and in all the parties of the International, without exception. The epoch of the epigones is separated from that of Lenin not only by a gulf of ideas, but also by a sweeping overturn in the organization of the party.

Stalin has been the chief instrument in carrying out this overturn. He is gifted with practicality, a strong will, and persistence in carrying out his aims. His political horizon is restricted, his theoretical equipment primitive. His work of compilation, The Foundations of Leninism, in which he made an attempt to pay tribute to the theoretical traditions of the party, is full of sophomoric errors. His ignorance of foreign languages compels him to follow the political life of other countries at second-hand. His mind is stubbornly empirical, and devoid of creative imagination. To the leading group of the party (in the wide. circles he was not known at all) he always seemed a man destined to play second and third fiddle. And the fact that to-day he is playing first is not so much a summing-up of the man as it is of this transitional period of political backsliding in the country. Helvetius said it long ago: “Every period has its great men, and if these are lacking, it invents them.” Stalinism is above all else the automatic work of the impersonal apparatus on the decline of the revolution.

Lenin died on January 21, 1924. Death was for him merely a deliverance from physical and moral suffering. He must have felt it intolerably humiliating to be so utterly helpless, and especially to lose his power of speech while he was still fully conscious. He grew unable to endure the patronizing tone of the doctors, their banal jokes and their false encouragements. While he was still able to speak, he casually put test questions to the doctors, caught them unawares in contradictions, insisted on additional explanations, and dipped into the medical books himself. In this case as in everything else, he was striving most of all for clarity. The only medical man he could endure was Fyodor Alexandrovich Guetier. A good physician and a good man, unsullied by the traits of a courtier, Guetier was attached to Lenin and Krupskaya by a genuine affection. During the period when Lenin would not allow any other doctor to come near him, Guetier continued to visit him. Guetier was also a close friend and house-physician to my family during all the years of the revolution. Thanks to him, we always had most trustworthy and intelligent reports on the condition of Vladimir Ilyich, to supplement and correct the impersonal official bulletins.

More than once, I asked Guetier whether Lenin’s intellect would retain its power in case of recovery. Guetier answered me in this strain: the tendency to fatigue would increase, there would not be the former clarity in work, but a virtuoso would remain a virtuoso. In the interval between the first and second strokes, this prediction was confirmed to the letter. Toward the end of the meetings of the Politbureau, Lenin gave one the impression of being a hopelessly tired man. All the muscles of his face sagged, the gleam went out of his eyes, and even his formidable forehead seemed to shrink, while his shoulders drooped heavily. The expression of his face and of his entire figure might have been summed up in a word: tired. At such ghastly moments, Lenin seemed to me a doomed man. But with a good night’s sleep he would recover his power of thought. The articles written in the interval between his two strokes hold their own with his best work. The fluid of the source was the same, but the flow was growing less. Even after the second stroke, Guetier did not take away all hope. But his reports continued to grow more pessimistic. The illness dragged on. Without malice or mercy, the blind forces of nature were sinking the great sick man into a state of impotence from which there was no way out. Lenin could not and should not have lived on as an invalid. But still we did not abandon hope for his recovery.

In the meantime, my own indisposition lingered on. “At the insistence of the doctors,” writes N.I. Sedova, “L.D. was moved to the country. There Guetier visited the sick man, for whom he had a tender regard. Politics did not interest him, but he suffered deeply for us without knowing how to express his sympathy. The persecution of L.D. caught him unprepared. He did not understand it, and was waiting and worrying. At Archangelskoye, he spoke to me excitedly about the necessity of taking L.D. to Sukhum. In the end, we decided to take the step. The journey, which was long in itself – via Baku, Tiflis, and Batum – was made still longer by the snowdrifts that covered the tracks. But the travelling had a soothing effect. The farther we went from Moscow, the more we broke away from the depression that we had found there of late. But in spite of it all, I still had the feeling that I was accompanying a very sick man. The uncertainty tried one ’s patience: what sort of life would there be at Sukhum? Would we have enemies or friends about us there?”

January 21 found us at the station in TiFlis, on our way to Sukhum. I was sitting with my wife in the working half of my car, with the high temperature that was the usual thing at that time. There was a knock on the door, and my faithful assistant, Syermuks, who was accompanying me to Sukhum, entered. From his manner as he walked in, from his livid-gray face as he handed me a sheet of paper, looking past me with glassy eyes, I sensed a catastrophe. It was the decoded telegram from Stalin telling me that Lenin had died. I passed it to my wife she had already guessed it.

The Tiflis authorities soon received a similar telegram. The news of Lenin’s death was spreading in ever-widening rings. I got the Kremlin on the direct wire. In answer to my inquiry, I was told: “The funeral will be on Saturday, you can’t get back in time, and so we advise you to continue your treatment.” Accordingly, I had no choice. As a matter of fact, the funeral did not take place until Sunday, and I could easily have reached Moscow by then. Incredible as it may appear, I was even deceived about the date of the funeral. The conspirators surmised correctly that I would never think of verifying it, and later on they could always find an explanation. I must recall the fact that the news of Lenin’s first illness was not communicated to me until the third day. This was a system. The object was to “gain time.”

The Tiflis comrades came to demand that I write on Lenin’s death at once. But I knew only one urgent desire-and that was to be alone. I could not stretch my hand to lift my pen. The brief text of the Moscow telegram was still resounding in my head. Those who gathered at the train waited for a response. They were right. The train was held up for half an hour, and I wrote the farewell lines: “Lenin has gone. Lenin is no more.” The few handwritten pages were transmitted to the direct wire.

“We arrived quite broken down,” writes my wife. “It was the first time we had seen Sukhum. The mimosa were in full bloom – they are plentiful there. Magnificent palms. Camellias. It was January in Moscow the cold was bitter. The Abhazians greeted us on our arrival in a friendly manner. In the dining-room of the rest-house, there were two portraits on the wall, one – draped in black – of Vladimir Ilyich, the other of L.D. We felt like taking the latter one down, but thought it would look too demonstrative.”

At Sukhum I spent long days lying on the balcony facing the sea. Although it was January, the sun was warm and bright. Between the balcony and the glittering sea there were huge palms. With the constant sensation of running a temperature were mingled thoughts of Lenin’s death. In my mind I went through all the stages of my life: my meetings with Lenin, our disagreements, polemics, our renewed friendliness, our fellowship of work. Individual episodes emerged with the vividness of a dream. Gradually all of it began to assume increasingly sharp outlines. With amazing clarity I saw those “disciples” who were true to their master in the little things, and not in the big. As I breathed the sea air in, I assimilated with my whole being the assurance of my historical rightness in opposition to the epigones.

January 27, 1924. Over the palms and the sea reigned silence, sparking under the blue canopy. Suddenly it was pierced by salvos of artillery. The cannonading was going on somewhere below, on the seashore. It was Sukhum’s salute to the leader who at that hour was being buried in Moscow. I thought of him and of the woman who had been his life-companion for so many years, receiving through him her impressions of the world. Now she was burying him, and must inevitably feel lonely among the grieving millions around her – grieving, but not as she was grieving. I thought of Nadyezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya. I wanted to speak a word of greeting, of sympathy, of endearment to her from where I was. But I could not bring myself to do it. Words seemed much too light in the face of what had happened. I was afraid that they would only sound conventional. And so I was shaken with gratitude when I received a letter a few days later from Nadyezhda Konstantinovna. This is how it read:

I write to tell you that about a month before his death, as he was looking through your book, Vladimir Ilyich stopped at the place where you sum up Marx and Lenin, and asked me to read it over again to him he listened very attentively, and then looked it over again himself. And here is another thing I want to tell you. The attitude of V.I. toward you at the time when you came to us in London from Siberia has not changed until his death. I wish you, Lev Davydovich, strength and health, and I embrace you warmly.

In the book which Vladimir Ilyich was looking over before his death, I compared Lenin with Marx. I knew only too well Lenin’s attitude toward Marx, an attitude made up of a disciple’s grateful love and of the pathos of distance. The relationship between master and disciple became, in the course of history, the relationship of the theoretical precursor and the first realizer. In my article I did away with the traditional pathos of distance. Marx and Lenin, so closely linked historically and yet so different, were to me the two unsurpassable summits of man’s spiritual power. And I rejoiced at the thought that Lenin had read my lines about him attentively a short time before he died, and probably with emotion, since for him, as for me, the Marx scale was the most titanic for measuring human personality.

And with emotion I now read Krupskaya’s letter. She took two extreme points in my connection with Lenin – the October day in 1902 when, after escaping from Siberia, I had raised Lenin from his hard London bed early in the morning, and the end of December, 1923, when Lenin had twice read my appreciation of his lifework. Between these two points there had passed two decades – at first joint work, then bitter factional struggle, then joint work again on a higher historical foundation. In Hegel’s phrase: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. And now Krupskaya bore witness that Lenin’s attitude toward me, despite the protracted period of antithesis, remained the “London” one that is, one of warm support and friendly sympathy, but now on a higher historical plane. Even if there were nothing else, all the folios of the dissemblers could not outweigh in the judgment of history this little note written by Krupskaya a few days after Lenin’s death.

“Considerably delayed by the snow, the newspapers began to bring us the memorial speeches, obituaries, and articles. Our friends were expecting L.D. to come to Moscow, and thought that he would cut short his trip in order to return, since no one imagined that Stalin’s telegram had cut off his return. I remember my son’s letter, received at Sukhum. He was terribly shocked by Lenin’s death, and though suffering from a cold, with a temperature of 104, he went in his not very warm coat to the Hall of Columns to pay his last respects, and waited, waited, and waited with impatience for our arrival. One could feel in his letter his bitter bewilderment and diffident reproach.” This again is quoted from my wife’s notes.

A delegation of the Central Committee composed of Tomsky, Frunze, Pyatakov, and Gusyev came to me at Sukhum to coordinate with me in making changes in the personnel of the war department. This was sheer farce. The renewal of the personnel in the war department had for some time been going on at full speed behind my back, and now it was simply a matter of observing the proprieties.

The first blow in the war department fell on Sklyansky. He was the first to bear Stalin’s revenge for the latter’s reverses before Tsaritsin, his failure on the southern front, and his adventure before Lvov. Intrigue reared high its serpentine head. To uproot Sklyansky – and me in the future – an ambitious but talentless intriguer named Unschlicht had been installed in the war department a few months before. Skiyansky was dismissed and Frunze, who was in command of the armies in the Ukraine, was appointed in his place. Frunze was a serious person. His authority in the party, due to his sentence of hard-labor in Siberia in the past, was higher than the more recent authority of Sklyansky. Furthermore, he had revealed an indisputable talent for military leadership during the war. But as a military administrator, he was far inferior to Sklyansky. He was too apt to be carried away by abstract schemes he was a poor judge of character and he succumbed easily to the influence of experts, especially those of the second order.

But I must finish Sklyansky’s story. With that rudeness characteristic of Stalin, without even being consulted about it, he was transferred to economic work. Dzerzhinsky, who was glad to get rid of Unschiicht, his deputy at the GPU, and secure for industry such a first-class administrator as Sklyansky, put him in charge of the cloth trust. With a shrug of his shoulders, Sklyansky plunged into his new work. A few months later he decided to visit the United States, to look about, study, and buy machinery. Before he left he called on me to say good-by and to ask my advice. We had worked hand in hand during the years of civil war. But our talk had usually been about troop units, military rules, speeding up the graduation of officers, supplies of copper and aluminum for military plants, uniforms and food, rather than about the party. We were both too busy for that. After Lenin was taken ill, when the plots of the epigones began to force their way into the war department, I refrained from discussing party matters, particularly with the military staff. The situation was very indefinite, the differences were then only be ginning to crop up, and the forming of factions in the army concealed many dangers. Later on I was ill myself. At that meeting with Sklyansky in the summer of 1925, when I was no longer in charge of the war department, we talked over almost everything.

“Tell me,” Sklyansky asked, “what is Stalin?”

Sklyansky knew Stalin well enough himself. He wanted my definition of Stalin and my explanation of his success. I thought for a minute.

“Stalin,” I said, “is the outstanding mediocrity in the party.” This definition then shaped itself for me for the first time in its full import, psychological as well as social. By the expression on Sklyansky’s face, I saw at once that I had helped my questioner to touch on something significant.

“You know,” he said, “it is amazing how, during this last period, the mean, the self-satisfied mediocrity is pushing itself into every sphere. And all of it finds in Stalin its leader. Where does it all come from?”

“This is the reaction after the great social and psychological strain of the first years of revolution. A victorious counter-revolution may develop its great men. But its first stage, the Thermidor, demands mediocrities who can’t see farther than their noses. Their strength lies in their political blindness, like the mill-horse that thinks that he is moving up when really he is only pushing down the belt-wheel. A horse that sees is incapable of doing the work.”

In that conversation I realized for the first time with absolute clarity the problem of the Thermidor – with, I might even say, a sort of physical conviction. I agreed with Sklyansky to return to the subject after he got back from America. Not many weeks later a cable informed us that Sklyansky had been drowned in some American lake while boating. Life is inexhaustible in its cruel inventions.

The urn with Sklyansky’s ashes was brought back to Moscow. Every one was sure that it would be immured in the Kremlin wall in the Red Square, which had become the Pantheon of the revolution. But the secretariat of the Central Committee decided to bury Sklyansky outside of the city. Sklyansky’s farewell visit to me had apparently been noted and taken into account. The hatred extended to the burial-urn. The belittling of Sklyansky was part of the general fight against the leadership that had insured victory in the civil war. I do not think that Sklyansky alive was interested in the matter of where he was to be buried. But the decision of the Central Committee took on a character of personal and political meanness. Throwing aside my sense of repulsion, I called Molotov. But the decision could not be altered. History has yet to pass its verdict on it.

In the autumn of 1924, my temperature again began to mount. By that time, another discussion had blazed up, brought about this time from above in accordance with some pre-arranged plan. In Leningrad, in Moscow, and in the provinces, hundreds and thousands of preliminary secret conferences had been held to prepare the so-called “discussion,” to prepare, that is, a systematic and well-organized baiting, now directed not at the opposition but at me personally. When the secret preparations were over, at a signal from the Pravda a campaign against Trotskyism burst forth simultaneously on all platforms, in all pages and columns, in every crack and corner. It was a majestic spectacle of its kind. The slander was like a volcanic eruption. It was a great shock to the large mass of the party. I lay in bed with a temperature, and remained silent. Press and orators did nothing but expose Trotskyism, although no one knew exactly what it meant. Day after day they served up incidents from the past, polemical excerpts from Lenin’s articles of twenty years’ standing, confusing, falsifying and mutilating them, and in general presenting them as if everything had happened just the day before. No one could understand anything of all this. If it had really been true, then Lenin must have been aware of it. But was there not the October revolution after all that? Was there not the civil war after the revolution? Had not Trotsky worked together with Lenin in creating the Communist International? Were not Trotsky’s portraits hanging everywhere next to those of Lenin? But slander poured forth in a cold lava stream. It pressed down automatically on the consciousness, and was even more devastating to the will.

The attitude toward Lenin as a revolutionary leader gave way to an attitude like that toward the head of an ecclesiastital hierarchy. Against my protests, a mausoleum was built on the Red Square, a monument unbecoming and offensive to the revolutionary consciousness. The official books about Lenin evolved into similar mausoleums. His ideas were cut up into quotations for hypocritical sermons. His embalmed corpse was used as a weapon against the living Lenin – and against Trotsky. The masses were stunned, puzzled, and overawed. Thanks to its sheer bulk, the campaign of ignorant lies took on political potency. It overwhelmed, oppressed, and demoralized the masses. The party found itself condemned to silence. A regime was established that was nothing less than a dictatorship of the apparatus over the party. In other words, the party was ceasing to be a party.

In the morning, papers were brought to me in bed. I looked over the cable reports, and the titles and signatures of the articles. I knew those men well enough I knew their inner thoughts, what they were capable of saying and what they had been ordered to say. In the majority of cases, they were men already exhausted by the revolution. Some were simply narrow-minded fanatics who had let themselves be deceived. Others were young “careerists” in a hurry to prove how invaluable they were. All of them contradicted each other and themselves. But the slander kept up incessantly in the newspapers: it howled and shrieked, drowning its contradictions and superficiality in its own noise. It succeeded by sheer volume alone.

“The second attack of L.D.’s illness,” writes N.I. Sedova, “coincided with a monstrous campaign of persecution against him, which we felt as keenly as if we had been suffering from the most malignant disease. The pages of the Pravda seemed endless, and every line of the paper, even every word, a lie. L.D. kept silent. But what it cost him to maintain that silence! Friends called to see him during the day and often at night. I remember that some one once asked him if he had read that day’s paper. He replied that he no longer read the newspapers. And it is true that he only took them up in his hands, ran his eyes over them, and then threw them aside. It seemed as if it were enough for him merely to look at them to know all that they contained. He knew only too well the cooks who had made the dish, and the same dish every day, to boot. To read the papers at that time was exactly, he would say, like pushing a funnel brush into one’s own throat. It might have been possible to force himself to read them if L.D. had decided to reply. But he remained silent. His cold lingered on, thanks to his critical nervous condition. He looked pale and thin. In the family we avoided talking about the persecution, and yet we could talk of nothing else. I remember how I felt when I went to my work every day at the Commissariat of Education it was like running a gauntlet. But never once did any one permit himself an unpleasant insinuation. Side by side with the inimical silence of the small ruling group, there was unquestionable sympathy from most of my colleagues. The life of the party seemed to be split in half: the inner, hidden life and the outward life for show only, and the two lives were in absolute contradiction to each other. Only a few brave souls ventured to reveal what was latent in the minds and hearts of most of those who concealed their sympathies under a ’monolithic’ vote.”

My letter to Chiedze against Lenin was published during this period. This episode, dating back to April, 1913, grew out of the fact that the official Bolshevik newspaper then published in St. Petersburg had appropriated the title of my Viennese publication, The Pravda – a Labor Paper. This led to one of those sharp conflicts so frequent in the lives of the foreign exiles. In a letter written to Chiedze, who at one time stood between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, I gave vent to my indignation at the Bolshevik centre and at Lenin. Two or three weeks later, I would undoubtedly have subjected my letter to a strict censor’s revision a year or two later still it would have seemed a curiosity in my own eyes. But that letter was to have a peculiar destiny. It was intercepted on its way by the Police Department. It rested in the police archives until the October revolution, when it went to the Institute of History of the Communist party. Lenin was well aware of this letter in his eyes, as in mine, it was simply “the snows of yesteryear” and nothing more. A good many letters of various kinds had been written during the years of foreign exile! In 1924, the epigones disinterred the letter from the archives and flung it at the party, three-quarters of which at that time consisted of new members. It was no accident that the time chosen for this was the months immediately following Lenin’s death. This condition was doubly essential. In the first place, Lenin could no longer rise to call these gentlemen by their right names, and in the second place, the masses of the people were torn with grief over the death of their leader. With no idea of the yesterdays of the party, the people read Trotsky’s hostile remarks about Lenin and were stunned. It is true that the remarks had been made twelve years before, but chronology was disregarded in the face of the naked quotations. The use that the epigones made of my letter to Chiedze is one of the greatest frauds in the world’s history. The forged documents of the French reactionaries in the Dreyfus case are as nothing compared to the political forgery perpetrated by Stalin and his associates.

Slander becomes a force only when it meets some historical demand. There must have been some shift, I reasoned, in social relations or in the political mood, if slander could find such an endless market. It is necessary to analyze the content of this slander. As I lay in bed, I had plenty of time to do so. From what does this accusation of Trotsky’s wishing “to rob the peasant” derive – that formula which the reactionary agrarians, the Christian socialists, and the Fascists always direct against socialists and against communists in particular? Whence this bitter baiting of the Marxist idea of permanent revolution, this national bragging which promises to build its own socialism? What sections of the people make demands for such reactionary vulgarity? And lastly, how and why this lowering of the theoretical level, this retrogression to political stupidity? Lying in bed, I went over my old articles, and my eyes fell on these lines written in 1909, at the peak of the reactionary regime under Stolypin:

“When the curve of historical development rises, public thinking becomes more penetrating, braver and more ingenious. It grasps facts on the wing, and on the wing links them with the thread of generalization . But when the political curve indi cates a drop, public thinking succumbs to stupidity. The price less gift of political generalization vanishes somewhere without leaving even a trace. Stupidity grows in insolence, and, baring its teeth, heaps insulting mockery on every attempt at a serious generalization. Feeling that it is in command of the field, it be gins to resort to its own means.”

One of its most important means is slander.

I say to myself that we are passing through a period of re action. A political shifting of the classes is going on, as well as a change in class-consciousness. After the great effort, there is the recoil. How far will it go? Certainly not back to its starting-point. But no one can indicate the line in advance. The struggle of the inner forces will determine that. First, one must understand what is happening. The deep molecular processes of reaction are emerging to the surface. They have as their object the eradicating, or at least the weakening, of the dependence of the public consciousness on the ideas, slogans and living figures of October. That is the meaning of what is now taking place. So let us not become too subjective, or quarrel or feel put out with history for conducting its affairs in such involved and tangled ways. To understand what is happening is already to half insure the victory.


The Trail

The Soviet Union releases a letter that Russian leader Yuri Andropov wrote to Samantha Smith, an American fifth-grader. This rather unusual piece of Soviet propaganda was in direct response to President Ronald Reagan’s vigorous attacks on what he called “the evil empire” of the Soviet Union.

In 1983, President Reagan was in the midst of a harsh rhetorical campaign against the Soviet Union. A passionate anticommunist, President Reagan called for massive increases in U.S. defense spending to meet the perceived Soviet threat. In Russia, however, events were leading to a different Soviet approach to the West. In 1982, long-time leader Leonid Brezhnev died Yuri Andropov was his successor. While Andropov was not radical in his approach to politics and economics, he did seem to sincerely desire a better relationship with the United States. In an attempt to blunt the Reagan attacks, the Soviet government on released a letter that Andropov had written in response to one sent by Samantha Smith, a fifth-grade student from Manchester, Maine.

Smith had written the Soviet leader as part of a class assignment, one that was common enough for students in the Cold War years. Most of these missives received a form letter response, if any at all, but Andropov answered Smith’s letter personally. He explained that the Soviet Union had suffered horrible losses in World War II, an experience that convinced the Russian people that they wanted to “live in peace, to trade and cooperate with all our neighbors on the globe, no matter how close or far away they are, and, certainly, with such a great country as the United States of America.” In response to Smith’s question about whether the Soviet Union wished to prevent nuclear war, Andropov declared, “Yes, Samantha, we in the Soviet Union are endeavoring and doing everything so that there will be no war between our two countries, so that there will be no war at all on earth. This is the wish of everyone in the Soviet Union. That’s what we were taught to do by Vladimir Lenin, the great founder of our state.” He vowed that Russia would “never, but never, be the first to use nuclear weapons against any country.” Andropov complimented Smith, comparing her to the spunky character of Becky from the Mark Twain novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. “All kids in our country, boys and girls alike, know and love this book,” he added. Andropov ended by inviting Samantha and her parents to visit the Soviet Union. In July 1983, Samantha accepted the invitation and flew to Russia for a three-week tour.

Soviet propaganda had never been known for its human qualities. Generally speaking, it was given to heavy-handed diatribes and communist cliches. In his public relations duel with Reagan-the American president known as the “Great Communicator”-Andropov tried something different by assuming a folksy, almost grandfatherly approach. Whether this would have borne fruit is unknown just a year later, Andropov died. Tragically, Samantha Smith, aged 13, died just one year after Andropov’s passing, in August 1985 in a plane crash.

“Andropov writes to an American fifth-grader,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2648 [accessed Apr 25, 2009]

1792 – The guillotine was first used to execute highwayman Nicolas J. Pelletier.

1846 – The Mexican-American War ignited as a result of disputes over claims to Texas boundaries. The outcome of the war fixed Texas‘ southern boundary at the Rio Grande River.

1859 – Work began on the Suez Canal in Egypt.

1862 – Union Admiral Farragut occupied New Orleans, LA.

1864 – After facing defeat in the Red River Campaign, Union General Nathaniel Bank returned to Alexandria, LA.

1898 – The U.S. declared war on Spain. Spain had declared war on the U.S. the day before.

1915 – During World War I, Australian and New Zealand troops landed at Gallipoli in Turkey in hopes of attacking the Central Powers from below. The attack was unsuccessful.

1952 – After a three-day fight against Chinese Communist Forces, the Gloucestershire Regiment was annihilated on “Gloucester Hill,” in Korea.

1959 – St. Lawrence Seaway opened to shipping. The water way connects the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

1962 – The U.S. spacecraft, Ranger, crashed on the Moon.

1971 – The country of Bangladesh was established.

1980 – In Iran, a commando mission to rescue hostages was aborted after mechanical problems disabled three of the eight helicopters involved. During the evacuation, a helicopter and a transport plan collided and exploded. Eight U.S. servicemen were killed. The mission was aimed at freeing American hostages that had been taken at the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979. The event took place April 24th Washington, DC, time.

1983 – The Pioneer 10 spacecraft crossed Pluto’s orbit, speeding on its endless voyage through the Milky Way.

1990 – The U.S. Hubble Space Telescope was placed into Earth’s orbit. It was released by the space shuttle Discovery.

Americans and Russians link up, cut Germany in two

On this day in 1945, eight Russian armies completely encircle Berlin, linking up with the U.S. First Army patrol, first on the western bank of the Elbe, then later at Torgau. Germany is, for all intents and purposes, Allied territory.

The Allies sounded the death knell of their common enemy by celebrating. In Moscow, news of the link-up between the two armies resulted in a 324-gun salute in New York, crowds burst into song and dance in the middle of Times Square. Among the Soviet commanders who participated in this historic meeting of the two armies was the renowned Russian Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov, who warned a skeptical Stalin as early as June 1941 that Germany posed a serious threat to the Soviet Union. Zhukov would become invaluable in battling German forces within Russia (Stalingrad and Moscow) and without. It was also Zhukov who would demand and receive unconditional surrender of Berlin from German General Krebs less than a week after encircling the German capital. At the end of the war, Zhukov was awarded a military medal of honor from Great Britain.


The Trail

A fire erupts in Rome, spreading rapidly throughout the market area in the center of the city. When the flames finally died out more than a week later, nearly two-thirds of Rome had been destroyed.

Emperor Nero used the fire as an opportunity to rebuild Rome in a more orderly Greek style and began construction on a massive palace called the Domus Aureus. Some speculated that the emperor had ordered the burning of Rome to indulge his architectural tastes, but he was away in Antium when the conflagration began. According to later Roman historians, Nero blamed members of the mysterious Christian cult for the fire and launched the first Roman persecution of Christians in response.

1536 – The authority of the pope was declared void in England.

1789 – Robespierre, a deputy from Arras, France, decided to back the French Revolution.

1914 – Six planes of the U.S. Army helped to form an aviation division called the Signal Corps.

1932 – The U.S. and Canada signed a treaty to develop the St. Lawrence Seaway.

1935 – Ethiopian King Haile Selassie urged his countrymen to fight to the last man against the invading Italian army.

1936 – The Spanish Civil War began as Gen. Francisco Franco led an uprising of army troops based in Spanish North Africa.

1942 – The German Me-262, the first jet-propelled aircraft to fly in combat, made its first flight.

1944 – U.S. troops captured Saint-Lo, France, ending the battle of the hedgerows.

1944 – Hideki Tojo was removed as Japanese premier and war minister due to setbacks suffered by his country in World War II.

1971 – New Zealand and Australia announced they would pull their troops out of Vietnam.

1984 – A gunman opened fire at a McDonald’s fast-food restaurant in San Ysidro, CA. He killed 21 people before being shot dead by police.

1994 – In Buenos Aires, a massive car bomb killed 96 people belonging to Argentinean Jewish organizations.

Assault of Battery Wagner and death of Robert Gould Shaw

On this day, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and 272 of his troops are killed in an assault on Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina. Shaw was commander of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, perhaps the most famous regiment of African-American troops during the war.

“Assault of Battery Wagner and death of Robert Gould Shaw.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 Jul 2008, 10:40 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2251.

Singing Wobbly Joe Hill sentenced to death

Convicted of murder on meager evidence, the singing Wobbly Joe Hill is sentenced to be executed in Utah.

A native of Sweden who immigrated to the U.S. in 1879, Joe Hill joined the International Workers of the World (IWW) in 1910. The IWW was an industrial union that rejected the capitalist system and dreamed one day of leading a national workers’ revolution. Members of the IWW–known as Wobblies–were especially active in the western United States, where they enjoyed considerable success in organizing mistreated and exploited workers in the mining, logging, and shipping industries.

“Singing Wobbly Joe Hill sentenced to death.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 Jul 2008, 10:43 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4585.

Charges of communists in the U.S. Army raised

In testimony before the House Military Affairs subcommittee, the subcommittee’s chief counsel, H. Ralph Burton, charges that 16 officers and non-commissioned officers in the U.S. Army have pasts that “reflect communism.” The charges, issued nearly 10 years before Senator Joseph McCarthy would make similar accusations, were hotly denied by the U.S. Army and government.

“Charges of communists in the U.S. Army raised.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 Jul 2008, 10:41 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2732.

Incident on Chappaquiddick Island

Shortly after leaving a party on Chappaquiddick Island, Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy of Massachusetts drives an Oldsmobile off a wooden bridge into a tide-swept pond. Kennedy escaped the submerged car, but his passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, did not. The senator did not report the fatal car accident for 10 hours.

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On This Day, 3-28-08: Jesse Owens

Nuclear accident at Three Mile Island

At 4 a.m. on March 28, 1979, the worst accident in the history of the U.S. nuclear power industry begins when a pressure valve in the Unit-2 reactor at Three Mile Island fails to close. Cooling water, contaminated with radiation, drained from the open valve into adjoining buildings, and the core began to dangerously overheat.

The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant was built in 1974 on a sandbar on Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River, just 10 miles downstream from the state capitol in Harrisburg. In 1978, a second state-of-the-art reactor began operating on Three Mile Island, which was lauded for generating affordable and reliable energy in a time of energy crises.

After the cooling water began to drain out of the broken pressure valve on the morning of March 28, 1979, emergency cooling pumps automatically went into operation. Left alone, these safety devices would have prevented the development of a larger crisis. However, human operators in the control room misread confusing and contradictory readings and shut off the emergency water system. The reactor was also shut down, but residual heat from the fission process was still being released. By early morning, the core had heated to over 4,000 degrees, just 1,000 degrees short of meltdown. In the meltdown scenario, the core melts, and deadly radiation drifts across the countryside, fatally sickening a potentially great number of people.

“Nuclear accident at Three Mile Island.” 2008. The History Channel website. 28 Mar 2008, 12:17 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6850.

1774 – Britain passed the Coercive Act against Massachusetts.

1834 – The U.S. Senate voted to censure President Jackson for the removal of federal deposits from the Bank of the United States.

1854 – The Crimean War began with Britain and France declaring war on Russia.

1865 – Outdoor advertising legislation was enacted in New York. The law banned “painting on stones, rocks and trees.”

1898 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a child born in the U.S. to Chinese immigrants was a U.S. citizen. This meant that they could not be deported under the Chinese Exclusion Act.

1917 – During World War I the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was founded.

1933 – In Germany, the Nazis ordered a ban on all Jews in businesses, professions and schools.

1941 – The Italian fleet was defeated by the British at the Battle of Matapan.

1942 – British naval forces raided the Nazi occupied French port of St. Nazaire.

1945 – Germany launched the last of the V-2 rockets against England.

1986 – The U.S. Senate passed $100 million aid package for the Nicaraguan contras.

1990 – Jesse Owens received the Congressional Gold Medal from U.S. President George Bush.

Funeral held for the man behind the guillotine

The funeral of Guillotin, the inventor and namesake of the infamous execution device, takes place outside of Paris, France. Guillotin had what he felt were the purest motives for inventing the guillotine and was deeply distressed at how his reputation had become besmirched in the aftermath.

Guillotin had bestowed the deadly contraption on the French as a “philanthropic gesture” for the systematic criminal justice reform that was taking place in 1789. The machine was intended to show the intellectual and social progress of the Revolution by killing aristocrats and journeymen the same way, equality in death was ensured.

The first use of the guillotine was on April 25 1792, when Nicolas Pelletier was put to death for armed robbery and assault in Place de Greve. The newspapers reported that guillotine was not an immediate sensation. The crowds seemed to miss the gallows at first. However, it quickly caught on with the public and many thought it brought dignity back to the executioner.

However, the prestige of the guillotine fell precipitously due to its frequent use in the French Terror following the Revolution. It became the focal point of the awful political executions and was so closely identified with the terrible abuses of the time that it was perceived as partially responsible for the excesses itself. Still, it was used sporadically in France into the 20th century.

“Funeral held for the man behind the guillotine.” 2008. The History Channel website. 28 Mar 2008, 12:24 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=952.

1939: Spanish Civil War ends

In Spain, the Republican defenders of Madrid raise the white flag over the city, and the bloody three-year Spanish Civil War comes to an end. The conflict began in 1936 when General Francisco Franco led a right-wing army revolt in Morocco, dividing Spain into two camps, the Republicans and the Nationalists. The Republicans, made up of Catalonian and Basque patriots and an uneasy alliance of leftist radicals, suffered steady losses against Franco’s Nationalists. Franco appealed to the fascist regimes of Germany and Italy for help, while the USSR aided the Republican side. In addition, thousands of idealistic radicals from France, America, and elsewhere formed the International Brigades to aid the Republican cause. In early 1939, Catalonia fell to Franco soon after, Madrid fell too. Up to a million lives were lost in the conflict, the most devastating in Spanish history.

Although I wasn’t invited to shake hands with Hitler, I wasn’t invited to the White House to shake hands with the President either.
Jesse Owens


The Trail

On this day in 1945, eight Russian armies completely encircle Berlin, linking up with the U.S. First Army patrol, first on the western bank of the Elbe, then later at Torgau. Germany is, for all intents and purposes, Allied territory.

The Allies sounded the death knell of their common enemy by celebrating. In Moscow, news of the link-up between the two armies resulted in a 324-gun salute in New York, crowds burst into song and dance in the middle of Times Square. Among the Soviet commanders who participated in this historic meeting of the two armies was the renowned Russian Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov, who warned a skeptical Stalin as early as June 1941 that Germany posed a serious threat to the Soviet Union. Zhukov would become invaluable in battling German forces within Russia (Stalingrad and Moscow) and without. It was also Zhukov who would demand and receive unconditional surrender of Berlin from German General Krebs less than a week after encircling the German capital. At the end of the war, Zhukov was awarded a military medal of honor from Great Britain.

“Americans and Russians link up, cut Germany in two.” 2008. The History Channel website. 25 Apr 2008, 01:54 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6433.

1684 – A patent was granted for the thimble.

1792 – The guillotine was first used to execute highwayman Nicolas J. Pelletier.

1846 – The Mexican-American War ignited as a result of disputes over claims to Texas boundaries. The outcome of the war fixed Texas‘ southern boundary at the Rio Grande River.

1859 – Work began on the Suez Canal in Egypt.

1860 – The first Japanese diplomats to visit a foreign power reached Washington, DC. They remained in the U.S. capital for several weeks while discussing expansion of trade with the United States.

1862 – Union Admiral Farragut occupied New Orleans, LA.

1864 – After facing defeat in the Red River Campaign, Union General Nathaniel Bank returned to Alexandria, LA.

1867 – Tokyo was opened for foreign trade.

1882 – French commander Henri Riviere seized the citadel of Hanoi in Indochina.

1898 – The U.S. declared war on Spain. Spain had declared war on the U.S. the day before.

1915 – During World War I, Australian and New Zealand troops landed at Gallipoli in Turkey in hopes of attacking the Central Powers from below. The attack was unsuccessful.

1928 – A seeing eye dog was used for the first time.

1945 – Delegates from about 50 countries met in San Francisco to organize the United Nations.

1952 – After a three-day fight against Chinese Communist Forces, the Gloucestershire Regiment was annihilated on “Gloucester Hill,” in Korea.

1954 – The prototype manufacture of the first solar battery was announced by the Bell Laboratories in New York City.

1959 – St. Lawrence Seaway opened to shipping. The water way connects the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

1967 – Colorado Governor John Love signed the first law legalizing abortion in the U.S. The law was limited to therapeutic abortions when agreed to, unanimously, by a panel of three physicians.

1984 – David Anthony Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy, was found dead of a drug overdose in a hotel room.

1992 – Islamic forces in Afghanistan took control of most of the capital of Kabul following the collapse of the Communist government.

1996 – The main assembly of the Palestine Liberation Organization voted to revoke clauses in its charter that called for an armed struggle to destroy Israel.

Andropov writes to an American fifth-grader

The Soviet Union releases a letter that Russian leader Yuri Andropov wrote to Samantha Smith, an American fifth-grader. This rather unusual piece of Soviet propaganda was in direct response to President Ronald Reagan’s vigorous attacks on what he called “the evil empire” of the Soviet Union.

In 1983, President Reagan was in the midst of a harsh rhetorical campaign against the Soviet Union. A passionate anticommunist, President Reagan called for massive increases in U.S. defense spending to meet the perceived Soviet threat. In Russia, however, events were leading to a different Soviet approach to the West. In 1982, long-time leader Leonid Brezhnev died Yuri Andropov was his successor. While Andropov was not radical in his approach to politics and economics, he did seem to sincerely desire a better relationship with the United States. In an attempt to blunt the Reagan attacks, the Soviet government released a letter that Andropov had written in response to one sent by Samantha Smith, a fifth-grade student from Manchester, Maine.

Smith had written the Soviet leader as part of a class assignment, one that was common enough for students in the Cold War years. Most of these missives received a form letter response, if any at all, but Andropov answered Smith’s letter personally. He explained that the Soviet Union had suffered horrible losses in World War II, an experience that convinced the Russian people that they wanted to “live in peace, to trade and cooperate with all our neighbors on the globe, no matter how close or far away they are, and, certainly, with such a great country as the United States of America.” In response to Smith’s question about whether the Soviet Union wished to prevent nuclear war, Andropov declared, “Yes, Samantha, we in the Soviet Union are endeavoring and doing everything so that there will be no war between our two countries, so that there will be no war at all on earth. This is the wish of everyone in the Soviet Union. That’s what we were taught to do by Vladimir Lenin, the great founder of our state.” He vowed that Russia would “never, but never, be the first to use nuclear weapons against any country.” Andropov complimented Smith, comparing her to the spunky character of Becky from the Mark Twain novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. “All kids in our country, boys and girls alike, know and love this book,” he added. Andropov ended by inviting Samantha and her parents to visit the Soviet Union. In July 1983, Samantha accepted the invitation and flew to Russia for a three-week tour.

Soviet propaganda had never been known for its human qualities. Generally speaking, it was given to heavy-handed diatribes and communist cliches. In his public relations duel with Reagan-the American president known as the “Great Communicator”-Andropov tried something different by assuming a folksy, almost grandfatherly approach. Whether this would have borne fruit is unknown just a year later, Andropov died. Tragically, Samantha Smith, aged 13, died just one year after Andropov’s passing, in August 1985 in a plane crash.


Funeral held for the man behind the guillotine - HISTORY

1) Some type of ceremony, funeral rite, or ritual
2) A sacred place for the dead
3) Memorials for the dead

Researchers have found burial grounds of Neanderthal man dating to 60,000 BC
with animal antlers on the body and flower fragments next to the corpse indicating
some type of ritual and gifts to the deceased. One of the first examples of this was
unearthed in the Shanidar cave in Iraq Neanderthal skeletons were discovered with
a layer of pollen.

With no great intellect or customs,the Neanderthal man instinctively buried their
dead with ritual and ceremony. This may suggest that Neanderthals believed in an
afterlife, but were at least capable of mourning, and were likely aware of their own
mortality.

The most ancient and universal, of funeral monuments, were simple and natural,
consisting of a mound of earth, or a heap of stones, raised over the ashes or body
of the deceased.

60,000 BC - Neanderthals use flowers and antlers to decorate the dead

24,000 BC- One of the oldest known burial discoveries of the "Red Lady"by William Buckley
(see: 1822)

5000 BC- Oldest known Dolmen was built around this time

4000 BC- Embalming was originated by the Egyptians
- Tumuli, or burial mounds, are often seen solitary, many ancient sites had 100's and even 1000's
of them clustered in one area.

3500 BC- Period when most of the Dolmen were built

3400 BC- Mummification becomes normal in Egypt. Body preservation, a form of embalming.

3300 BC- Egyptian mummies’ levels of mummification differed according to rank and cost. More
expensive techniques resulted in a better looking corpse .

2200 BC- Stonehenge completed

1523-1028 BC- The beginning of the practice of Ancestor Worship in China during the Shang
Dynasty

1323- King Tutankahem is entombed in his now infamous sargophus.

1000 BC- Urn Funerary or cinerary urns have been used since ancient times as vessels to contain
cremains. First made of clay, they can now be found in many different materials.

800 BC- The Ancient Greeks prefered form of disposition becomes cremation on funeral pyres.

410 BC- The use of Catacombs for burial ended

353 BC- The first true Mausoleum was built, for the Carian ruler Mausolus. Begun
before his death in 353 B.C., construction of the Mausoleum was continued by his wife It ranked as
one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

230 BC- Hokenoyama tomb oldest know burial chamber in Japan.

210 BC- Emperor Qin Shi Huang is buried with his terrocota warriors.

7- Native Americans are known to buried their dead with grave goods such as tools and
jewelry.

100- Columbariums The Romans in the first and second centuries, used “columbarium”
(which means “dovecote”) as a name for a structure containing multiple funerary urns
because the stacked urns resembled stacked cages.

300- Japanese developed their unique keyhole shaped burial mounds, which were used
most frequently for important leaders

400- Suttees though banned on multiple occasions (as recently as 1987), suttee (meaning
“good woman” or “chaste wife” in Sanskrit) is the custom of Hindu widow burning herself,
or being burned, of her husband’s funeral pyre

600- The crypt at Old St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, developed about the year 600

900- Viking Tumulus Elaborate Viking funerals often involved ritual sacrifice of peasants,
plenty of strong drink before their “roles.” The graves, ship shaped tumuli, were outlined
with stone markers.

1500- Aztecs were known to be celebrating the Day of the Dead
- Inhabitants of Hawaii were known to bury the dead,
then light a fire over it that must be maintained for ten
days.

1578- Rediscovery of the Roman Catacombs

1632- Building of the Taj Mahal

1800- Draping of a coffin with a National Flag during the Napoleonic Wars (1796-1815)
- Body Snatching becomes a concern, especially in the US & UK.

1822- William Buckley discovers the "Red Lady" in South Wales, a skeleton, dyed with
red ochre, surrounded by grave goods and shells. It was a man, shown that he lived 26,000
years ago, the oldest ceremonial burial discovered in Western Europe.

1829- Suttee was outlawed in British India

1830- Chinese are burying people in the sides of mountains.

1860's- U.S. Embalming began during the Civil War

1864- Arlington became a military cemetery

1884- Cremation became legal again in England

1882- First meeting on the National Funeral Directors Association

1887- Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science
Established

1890- There are almost 10,000 funeral directors in
the U.S.

1909- Crane & Breed build the first motorized hearse

1919- " Bring back the Dead" league started in 1919.

1920- There are nearly 25,000 funeral homes in the U.S.

1930- Open air funeral pyres became illegal with the "Cremation Act of 1930" in the U.K.

1963- Nov 22 JFK buried at Arlington National
Cemetery
- Jessica Mitford Releases- "American Way of Death"
- The Catholic church began to accept cremation

1971- U.S. Memorial Day became a Federal holiday

1984- FTC's "Trade Regulations on the Funeral Industry Practices" went into full effect.

1993- The first cemetery featuring green burial is opened in the U.K.

1997- Cremated remains began to be launched into space for disperal amongst the stars.

2000- Ecopods made of biodegradable paper and other fibers, the sleek ecopods can be
customized just like caskets, but are designed to be used in “green” cemeteries.

2006- Launch of the 1st version of The Funeral Source online
- Custom caskets begin to enter the market.


RELATED ARTICLES

'He served the Nazis, but he served the Weimar Republic and the Allies too. It was the profession which was important, not the government of the day. He was simply good at his job.'

One could say Reichhart had killing in his blood being the eighth generation in his family to go into executions.

Born on April 29, 1893 he would first serve his country in the First World war before becoming a butcher in peacetime.

However after growing tired of the slaughter house he applied to become an executioner for the Bavarian State Ministry of Justice in Munich in 1924, assuming the post from his outgoing uncle.

Reichhart, seen here in the midde, immersed himself in his role and even invented a device called the 'double detective tongs' for his guillotine

His career in killing began in earnest with the execution by guillotine of Rupert Fischer and Andreas Hutterer for murder.

The administration promised him 150 Goldmarks for each execution, and announced: 'From April 1, 1924, Reichhart takes over the execution of all death sentences coming in the Free State of Bavaria to the execution by beheading with the guillotine.'

A lull in executions forced Reichhart to become a green grocer in neighbouring Holland but he was back in action after Hitler's rise to power in 1933 and soon became a vital clog in the Nazi killing machine.

Reichhart immersed himself in his role and even invented a device called the 'double detective tongs' that kept prisoners pinned down without the need to tie them with rope.

The metal clamp held the prisoner beneath the guillotine instead of rope meaning execution time was reduced to four seconds flat.

One of Reichhart's most famous victims was 21-year-old Sophie Scholl on February 22, 1943 whose 'crime' was to have been a leading member of the White Rose movement, which had peacefully resisted the regime by writing anti-Nazi leaflets and distributing them around university students in Munich.

One of Reichhart's most famous victims was 21-year-old Sophie Scholl, a leading member of the White Rose movement

Sophie was the first of her fellow conspirators to be led to her death, which took place within just three hours of being found guilty by the rabidly Nazi judge, Roland Freisler, in his People's Court, notorious for its kangaroo trials.

For executioners such as Sophie Scholl's killers like Reichhart, the Nazi boom in the use of the guillotine made them wealthy. Those who dropped the blade were paid 3,000 Reichsmarks per year — and received a 65 Reichsmark bonus per execution. Reichhart made enough to buy a villa in an affluent Munich suburb.

Cruelly, the Nazis even charged the families of those they had imprisoned and beheaded. For every day that a prisoner was held, a fee of 1.50 Reichsmarks was charged. The executions cost 300 Reichsmarks. Even the 12 pfennig cost of posting the invoice was demanded back by the Nazi state.

Married dad-of-three Reichhart had gained such notoriety that his children were taunted at school with chants such as 'headcutter, headcutter, your dad's a headcutter!'

The reputation of their father even drove one of his sons to suicide.

However Reichhart changed sides once the Reich was toppled by the Allies and he was captured by American soldiers.

Curiously, he was prisoner in Landsberg Prison for the purposes of denazification but not tried for carrying out his duty of judicial executioner.

After his released he helped in the hanging of 156 Nazi officers but after two mistaken identities he refused to carry out any more killings himself.

An episode of Forbidden History, which airs on Wednesday tonight, is dedicated to exploring the life of Hitler's head hunter.

Jamie Theakston, the show's presenter, said: 'Reichhhart developed his own guillotine modelled on the traditional French guillotine, but lighter and more mobile. It's horrific to think of it.

'He was very proud of what he did. He felt he was doing an important service.

'One of the reasons he ended up working for the Allies was that there were not a lot of people prepared to do that kind of thing.'

After years spent living alone, Reichhart died in a care home near Munich in 1972.


Early life Edit

Timothy Francis LaHaye was born on April 27, 1926, in Detroit, Michigan to Frank LaHaye, a Ford auto worker who died in 1936 of a heart attack, and Margaret LaHaye (née Palmer). His father's death had a significant influence on LaHaye, who was only nine years old at the time. He had been inconsolable until the minister at the funeral said, "This is not the end of Frank LaHaye because he accepted Jesus Christ, the day will come when the Lord will shout from heaven and descend, and the dead in Christ will rise first and then we'll be caught up together to meet him in the air." [ citation needed ]

LaHaye later said that, upon hearing those remarks, "all of a sudden, there was hope in my heart I'd see my father again." [2]

LaHaye enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces in 1944, at the age of 18, after he finished night school. He served in the European Theater of Operations as a machine gunner aboard a bomber. [3] In 1950, LaHaye received a Bachelor of Arts from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. LaHaye held the Doctor of Ministry degree from Western Seminary [4] and a Doctor of Literature from Liberty University. [5]

Ministry Edit

He served as a pastor in Pumpkintown, South Carolina, and after that he pastored a congregation in Minneapolis until 1956. [4] [6] After that, the LaHaye family moved to San Diego, California, where he served as pastor of the Scott Memorial Baptist Church (now called Shadow Mountain Community Church [5] ) for nearly 25 years. [4] In 1971, he founded Christian Heritage College, now known as San Diego Christian College. [4]

Political activism Edit

LaHaye started numerous groups to promote his views, having become involved in politics at the Christian Voice during the late 1970s and early 1980s. [ citation needed ] In 1979, he encouraged Jerry Falwell to found the Moral Majority and sat on its board of directors. [3] [9] LaHaye's wife, Beverly, founded Concerned Women for America, a conservative Christian women's activist group. [10]

Then in 1981, he left the pulpit to concentrate his time on politics and writing. [11] That year, he helped found the Council for National Policy (CNP) a policy making think tank [12] in which membership is only available through invitation it has been reported "the most powerful conservative organization in America you've never heard of". [13]

In the 1980s he was criticized by the evangelical community for accepting money from Bo Hi Pak, a longtime Sun Myung Moon operative. [14] He was additionally criticized for joining Moon's Council for Religious Freedom, which was founded to protest Moon's 1984 imprisonment. [14] In 1996, LaHaye's wife spoke at an event sponsored by Moon. [14]

In the 1980s, LaHaye founded the American Coalition for Traditional Values and the Coalition for Religious Freedom. He founded the Pre-Tribulation Research Center along with Thomas Ice in 1998. The center is dedicated to producing material that supports a dispensationalist, pre-tribulation interpretation of the Bible. He and his wife had connections to the John Birch Society, a conservative, anti-communist group. [15]

LaHaye also took more direct roles in presidential politics. He supported Ronald Reagan's elections as United States president. [6] He was a co-chairman of Jack Kemp's 1988 presidential bid but was removed from the campaign after four days when his anti-Catholic views became known. [3] [4] LaHaye played a significant role in getting the Religious Right to support George W. Bush for the presidency in 2000. [3] [9] In 2007, he endorsed Mike Huckabee during the primaries [16] and served as his spiritual advisor. [17]

Left Behind Edit

LaHaye is best known for the Left Behind series of apocalyptic fiction that depicts the Earth after the pretribulation rapture which Premillennial Dispensationalists believe the Bible states, multiple times, will occur. The books were LaHaye's idea, though Jerry B. Jenkins, a former sportswriter with numerous other works of fiction to his name, wrote the books from LaHaye's notes. [18] Jenkins has said, "I write the best I can. I know I'm never going to be revered as some classic writer. I don't claim to be C. S. Lewis. The literary-type writers, I admire them. I wish I was smart enough to write a book that's hard to read, you know?" [19]

The series, which started in 1995 with the first novel, includes 12 titles in the adult series, as well as juvenile novels, audio books, devotionals, and graphic novels. The books have been very popular, with total sales surpassing 65 million copies as of July 2016. [4] Seven titles in the adult series have reached No. 1 on the bestseller lists for The New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly. [20] Jerry Falwell said about the first book in the series: "In terms of its impact on Christianity, it's probably greater than that of any other book in modern times, outside the Bible." [21] The best-selling series has been compared to the equally popular works of Tom Clancy and Stephen King: "the plotting is brisk and the characterizations Manichean. People disappear and things blow up." [9]

LaHaye indicates that the idea for the series came to him one day circa 1994, while he was sitting on an airplane and observed a married pilot flirting with a flight attendant. He wondered what would befall the pilot if the Rapture happened at that moment. [3] The first book in the series opens with a similar scene. He sold the movie rights for the Left Behind series and later stated he regretted that decision, because the films turned out to be "church-basement videos", rather than "a big-budget blockbuster" that he had hoped for. [6]

Later activities Edit

In 2001, LaHaye co-hosted with Dave Breese the prophecy television program The King Is Coming. In 2001, LaHaye gave $4.5 million to Liberty University to build a new student center and School of Prophecy, which opened in January 2002 and was named after LaHaye. He also served as its president.

He provided funds for the LaHaye Ice Center on the campus of Liberty University, which opened in January 2006. [22]

LaHaye's book The Rapture was released on June 6, 2006, in order to capitalize on a 6-6-6 connection. [23] [24]

Personal life and death Edit

Tim LaHaye married activist and fellow author Beverly Ratcliffe in 1947 [25] [26] while attending Bob Jones University. [4]

In July 2016, the LaHayes celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary. [5] [6] They had four children and nine grandchildren, and lived in the Los Angeles area. [4] The LaHayes owned a home in Rancho Mirage, California. [27] [ better source needed ]

LaHaye died on July 25, 2016, in a hospital in San Diego, California, after suffering from a stroke, aged 90. [4] [17] In addition to his wife, Beverly, he was survived by four children, nine grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren, a brother (Richard LaHaye), and a sister. [5] [6] His funeral service took place at Shadow Mountain Community Church on August 12, 2016, with David Jeremiah, who succeeded LaHaye as pastor at what was then Scott Memorial Baptist Church, led the service. [28] LaHaye is interred at Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego, California.

Homosexuality Edit

In 1978 LaHaye published The Unhappy Gays, which was later retitled What Everyone Should Know About Homosexuality. The book called homosexuals "militant, organized" and "vile." [29] The Unhappy Gays also argues that gays share 16 pernicious traits, including "incredible promiscuity", "deceit", "selfishness", "vulnerability to sadism-masochism", and "poor health and an early death." [2] He believed that homosexuality can be cured. [30] [31] However, he said that such conversions are rare. [32]

Global conspiracies Edit

LaHaye believed that the Illuminati is secretly engineering world affairs. [33] In Rapture Under Attack he wrote:

I myself have been a forty-five year student of the satanically-inspired, centuries-old conspiracy to use government, education, and media to destroy every vestige of Christianity within our society and establish a new world order. Having read at least fifty books on the Illuminati, I am convinced that it exists and can be blamed for many of man's inhumane actions against his fellow man during the past two hundred years. [34]

The Illuminati is just one of many groups that he believed are working to "turn America into an amoral, humanist country, ripe for merger into a one-world socialist state." Other secret societies and liberal groups working to destroy "every vestige of Christianity", according to LaHaye, include: the Trilateral Commission, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, "the major TV networks, high-profile newspapers and newsmagazines," the State Department, major foundations (Rockefeller, Carnegie, Ford), the United Nations, "the left wing of the Democratic Party", Harvard, Yale "and 2,000 other colleges and universities." [3]

Eschatology and Left Behind Edit

LaHaye held apocalyptic beliefs and asserted the end of the world was near. Other believers in dispensational premillennialism, who believe that the return of Jesus is imminent, criticize various aspects of his theology, saying he has "some real problems with his prophetical teachings in the Left Behind series." It is noted that "in books 8 & 9, LaHaye and Jenkins teach that [non-willing] recipients of the mark of the beast can still be saved". However, in The Mark, "the Chang scenario" is developed, whereby a character receives both the mark of the beast and the sealing of the Lord. In Desecration, his dual-marking was justified in the storyline." This has led some readers to wonder "how a Christian can have the mark of the beast and still be saved" and has been asked many times by perplexed readers on the Left Behind messageboard. Attempts to address this question have appeared on the FAQ page at LeftBehind.com. [11] [35]

Many mainstream Christians and certain other evangelicals had broader disagreements with the series as a whole, pointing out that "most biblical scholars largely reject the eschatological assumptions of this kind of pop end-times literature." [36] Others say that LaHaye portrays the Book of Revelation with a selective literalism, choosing to take some things literally (such as the violence) and others as metaphor (the Beast) as it suits his point of view. [37] In The Rapture Exposed by Barbara Rossing, a number of criticisms are raised regarding the series, particularly its focus on violence. [36] [38]

Anti-Catholic sentiments Edit

LaHaye was a harsh critic of Roman Catholicism, which he called "a false religion". [4] In his 1973 book Revelation Illustrated and Made Plain, he stated that the Catholic Church "is more dangerous than no religion because she substitutes religion for truth" and "is also dangerous because some of her doctrines are pseudo-Christian." Elsewhere the same book compared Catholic ceremonies to pagan rituals. [4] It was these statements that were largely responsible for LaHaye's dismissal from Jack Kemp's presidential campaign. It was later revealed that the San Diego church that LaHaye had pastored throughout the 1970s had sponsored an anti-Catholic group called Mission to Catholics one of their pamphlets asserted that Pope Paul VI was the "archpriest of Satan, a deceiver, and an antichrist, who has, like Judas, gone to his own place."

The issue of anti-Catholicism also comes up in regard to the Left Behind series. While the fictional Pope John XXIV was raptured, he is described as having "stirred up controversy in the church with a new doctrine that seemed to coincide more with the 'heresy' of Martin Luther than with the historic orthodoxy they were used to," and this is implied as the reason he was raptured. His successor, Pope Peter II becomes Pontifex Maximus of Enigma Babylon One World Faith, an amalgamation of all remaining world faiths and religions. [39]

In Book 9 of the series, The Desecration, Carpathia, the villain, specifically refutes all happenings at Jesus' crucifixion that are part of the Catholic stations of the Cross but not in the canonical gospels, further undercutting the Catholic traditions. [40] Other Catholic writers have said that while the books aren't "anti-Catholic per se" they reflect LaHaye's other writings on the subject. [41]

Despite his anti-Catholic views, he praised traditionalist Catholic director Mel Gibson's 2004 film The Passion of the Christ, saying that "Everyone should see this movie. It could be Hollywood's finest achievement to date." [42] He also endorsed Catholic convert Newt Gingrich for president in 2012. [43]

Time Magazine named LaHaye one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America, and in the summer of 2001, the Evangelical Studies Bulletin named him the most influential Christian leader of the preceding quarter century. [21] [36]


Changes & Christian Influence

Increasingly, it seems, the dynamic of the modern funeral is changing. Once it was the case that funerals were conducted generally in church buildings, and were sacred occasions, characterized by the singing of hymns, prayers, some reflection upon the life of the deceased, and exhortation from the Scriptures. But things are changing considerably in some places – not necessarily for the better.

Increasingly there seems to be the trend that, rather than the leaders of the church orchestrating how the services are to be conducted, the family (including non-Christians) are planning the funeral. The resuIt is a strange mixture of the sacred and the secular. At one moment the congregation is singing “Rock of Ages, Cleft For Me,” and then, presently, over the public address system, George Jones is lamenting, “He Stopped Lovin’ Her Today.” Instrumental selections are alternated with acappella singing. Too, women are being encouraged to mount the pulpit to read poetry or the Scriptures. Family members are invited to make comments regarding the deceased — which may be inappropriate, leaving the impression that the person, who perhaps was not even a Christian, is spiritually secure.

What impressions do these types of services leave with non-Christians? It seems to me that elders (or other church leaders) must be more prudent when funerals are conducted in church buildings. When services are held elsewhere, we may not have as much control, but when they are on our premises, do we not have an obligation to screen out worldly and sectarian influences?


Watch the video: What It Was Like to Witness the Guillotine (January 2022).