Tuesday, 28 October 2014

MCMLXI: What happened in the World?

Some airplane crashes, the start of building the Berlin Wall, Cold War is cold indeed, and Eichmann is sentenced. 1961.


  • January 3
    • President Dwight D. Eisenhower announces that the United States has severed diplomatic and consular relations with Cuba.
    • At the National Reactor Testing Station near Idaho Falls, atomic reactor SL-1 explodes, killing 3 military technicians.
    • Aero Flight 311 (Koivulahti air disaster): Douglas DC-3C OH-LCC of Finnish airline Aero crashes near Kvevlax (Koivulahti) on approach to Vaasa Airport in Finland killing all 25 on board, due to pilot error: an investigation finds that the captain and first officer were both exhausted for lack of sleep and had taken excessive alcohol at the time of the crash. It remains the deadliest air disaster to occur in the country.
  • January 5
  • January 7 – Following a 4-day conference in Casablanca, 5 African chiefs of state announce plans for a NATO-type African organization to ensure common defense. The Charter of Casablanca involves the Casablanca Group: Morocco, the United Arab Republic, Ghana, Guinea, and Mali.
  • January 8 – In France, a referendum supports Charles de Gaulle's policies on independence for Algeria.
  • January 17
Jan. 20: John F. Kennedy inaugurated as President of the U.S.
  • January 24 – A B-52 Stratofortress, with two nuclear bombs, crashes near Goldsboro, North Carolina.
  • January 26 – President John F. Kennedy appoints Janet G. Travell to be his physician, the first woman to hold this appointment.
  • January 31 – Ham the Chimp, a 37-pound (17-kg) male, is rocketed into space aboard Mercury-Redstone 2, in a test of the Project Mercury capsule, designed to carry United States astronauts into space.


  • February 3 – China buys grain from Canada for $60 million.
  • February 4 – The Portuguese Colonial War begins in Angola.
  • February 9 – The Beatles perform for the first time at The Cavern Club.
  • February 12 – The U.S.S.R. launches Venera 1 towards Venus.
  • February 14 – Discovery of the chemical elements: Element 103, Lawrencium, is first synthesized in Berkeley, California.
  • February 15
    • A Sabena Boeing 707 crashes near Brussels, Belgium, killing 73, including the entire United States figure skating team and several coaches.
    • A total solar eclipse occurs in the southern part of Europe.
  • February 25 – The last public trams in Sydney, Australia, cease operation, bringing to an end the Southern Hemisphere's largest tramway network.


  • March 1 – United States President John F. Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps.
  • March 3 – Hassan II is crowned King of Morocco.
  • March 8
    • Max Conrad circumnavigates the earth in 8 days, 18 hours and 49 minutes, setting a new world record.
  • March 13
    • Black and white £5 notes cease to be legal tender in the UK.
    • A dam bursts in Kiev, USSR, killing 145.
    • A second B-52 crashes near Yuba City, California after cabin pressure is lost and the fuel runs out. Two nuclear weapons are found unexploded.
  • March 15
    • The Union of Peoples of Angola, led by Holden Roberto, attacks strategic locations in the north of Angola. These events result in the beginning of the colonial war with Portugal.
  • March 18
  • March 29 – The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, allowing residents of Washington, D.C. to vote in presidential elections.
  • March 30 – The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs is signed at New York.


  • April 5 – The New Guinea Council of Western Papua is installed.
  • April 8 – The British passenger ship Dara blows up and sinks off Dubai; 238 passengers and crew are killed.
  • April 12
  • April 13 – In Portugal, a coup attempt against António de Oliveira Salazar fails.
  • April 17
    • The Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba begins; it fails by April 19.
    • The 33rd Academy Awards ceremony is held.
  • April 18 – Portugal sends to Angola its first military reinforcement.
  • April 20 – Fidel Castro announces that the Bay of Pigs Invasion has been defeated.
  • April 22 – Algiers putsch: Four French generals who oppose de Gaulle's policies in Algeria fail in a coup attempt.
  • April 23 – Judy Garland performs in a legendary comeback concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
  • April 24 – The Swedish ship Vasa is removed from the water after being sunk 333 years earlier.
  • April 27
    • President Kennedy delivers a revealing speech: The President and the Press: Address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association
    • Sierra Leone becomes independent from the United Kingdom.


  • May 6 – Tottenham Hotspur F.C. becomes the first team in the 20th century to win the English league and cup double. This being the last time Tottenham won the English League.
  • May 15 – J. Heinrich Matthaei alone performs the Poly-U-Experiment and is the first human to recognize and understand the genetic code. This is the birthdate of modern genetics.
  • May 16 – Park Chung-hee takes over in a military coup in South Korea.
  • May 19 – Venera 1 becomes the first man-made object to fly-by another planet by passing Venus (however, the probe had lost contact with Earth a month earlier and does not send back any data).
  • May 21 – African-American Civil Rights Movement: Alabama Governor John Patterson declares martial law in an attempt to restore order after race riots break out.
  • May 22 – An Earthquake rocks New South Wales.
  • May 25 – Apollo program: President Kennedy announces before a special joint session of Congress his goal to put a man on the Moon before the end of the decade.
  • May 27 – Tunku Abdul Rahman, Prime Minister of Malaya, holds a press conference in Singapore, announcing his idea to form the Federation of Malaysia, comprising Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, Brunei and North Borneo (Sabah).
  • May 28 – Peter Benenson's article "The Forgotten Prisoners" is published in several internationally read newspapers. This is later considered the founding of the human rights organization Amnesty International.
  • May 30 – Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, totalitarian despot of the Dominican Republic since 1930, is killed in an ambush, putting an end to the second longest-running dictatorship in Latin American history.
  • May 31
    • In France, rebel generals Maurice Challe and Andre Zelelr are sentenced to 15 years in prison.
    • South Africa officially leaves the Commonwealth of Nations.
    • President John F. Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle meet in Paris.


  • June 1 – Ethiopia experiences its most devastating earthquake of the 20th century, with a magnitude of 6.7. The town of Majete is destroyed, 45% of the houses in Karakore collapse, 17 kilometers (11 mi) of the main road north of Karakore are damaged by landslides and fissures, and 5,000 inhabitants in the area are left homeless.
  • June 4 – Vienna summit: John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev meet during 2 days in Vienna. They discuss nuclear tests, disarmament and Germany.
  • June 16 – Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev requests asylum in France while in Paris with the Kirov Ballet.
  • June 17
    • A Paris-to-Strasbourg train derails near Vitry-le-François; 24 are killed, 109 injured.
    • The New Democratic Party of Canada is founded with the merger of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and the Canadian Labour Congress.
  • June 19 – The British protectorate ends in Kuwait and it becomes an emirate.
  • June 25 – Iraqi president Abd al-Karim Qasim announces he is going to annex Kuwait (such an annexation of Kuwait would occur in 1990).
  • June 27 – Kuwait requests British help; the United Kingdom sends in troops.


  • July 4 – The Soviet submarine K-19 reactor leak occurs in the North Atlantic.
  • July 5 – The first Israeli rocket, Shavit 2, is launched.
  • July 8 – A mine explosion in Czechoslovakia leaves 108 dead.
  • July 12 – A Czechoslovakian Ilyushin Il-18 crashes while attempting to land at Casablanca, Morocco, killing all 72 persons on board.
  • July 21 – Mercury program: Gus Grissom, piloting the Mercury-Redstone 4 capsule Liberty Bell 7, becomes the second American to go into space (sub-orbital). Upon splashdown, the hatch prematurely opens, and the capsule sinks (it is recovered in 1999).
  • July 25 – U.S. President John F. Kennedy gives a widely watched TV speech on the Berlin crisis, warning "we will not be driven out of Berlin." Kennedy urges Americans to build fallout shelters, setting off a four-month debate on civil defense.
  • July 31
    • At Fenway Park in Boston, the first Major League Baseball All-Star Game tie occurs, when the game is stopped in the 9th inning due to rain (the only tie until 2002).
    • Ireland submits the first ever application to join the then European Economic Community.


  • August – The USA founds the Alliance for Progress.
  • August 1 – The Six Flags Over Texas theme park officially opens to the public.
  • August 6 – Vostok 2: Soviet cosmonaut Gherman Titov becomes the second human to orbit the Earth, and the first to be in outer space for more than one day.
  • August 7 – Vostok 2 (with Titov on board) lands in the Soviet Union.
  • August 10 – Britain applies for membership in the European Economic Community.
  • August 13 – Construction of the Berlin Wall begins, restricting movement between East Berlin and West Berlin and forming a clear boundary between West Germany and East Germany, Western Europe and Eastern Europe.


  • September 1
    • The Eritrean War of Independence officially begins with the shooting of the Ethiopian police by Hamid Idris Awate.
    • The first meeting is held of the Non-Aligned Movement. The Soviet Union resumes nuclear testing, escalating fears over the ongoing Berlin crisis.
  • September 7 – Tom and Jerry make a return with their first episode since 1957, Switchin' Kitten. The new creator, Gene Deitch, makes 12 more Tom and Jerry episodes until 1962.
  • September 10 – During the F1 Italian Grand Prix on the circuit of Monza, German Wolfgang von Trips, driving a Ferrari, crashes into a stand, killing 14 spectators and himself.
  • September 14
    • The new military government of Turkey sentences 15 members of the previous government to death.
    • The Focolare Movement opens its first North American center in New York.
  • September 17 – Military rulers in Turkey hang former prime minister Adnan Menderes.
  • September 18 – United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld dies in an air crash en route to Katanga, Congo.
  • September 21

    • In France, the OAS slips an anti-de Gaulle message into TV programming. 
    • Han's second birthday
  • September 24
    • The old Deutsche Opernhaus in the Berlin neighborhood of Charlottenburg is returned to its newly rebuilt house as the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
    • In the U.S., the Walt Disney anthology television series, renamed Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, moves from ABC to NBC after seven years on the air, and begins telecasting its programs in color for the first time. Years later, after Disney's death, the still-on-the-air program will be renamed The Wonderful World of Disney.
  • September 28 – A military coup in Damascus, Syria effectively ends the United Arab Republic, the union between Egypt and Syria.
  • September 30 – The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is formed to replace the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC).


  • October 10 – A volcanic eruption on Tristan da Cunha causes the whole population to be evacuated.
  • October 12 – The death penalty is abolished in New Zealand.
  • October 17 – Paris massacre of 1961: French police in Paris attack about 30,000 protesting a curfew applied solely to Algerians. The official death toll is 3, but human rights groups claim 240 dead.
  • October 18 – West Side Story is released as a film.
  • October 19 – The Arab League takes over protecting Kuwait; the last British troops leave.
  • October 26 –Cemal Gürsel becomes the fourth president of Turkey. (His former title was head of state and government. By constitution referendum, he is elected as president).
  • October 27
    • Mongolia and Mauritania join the United Nations.
    • Confrontation at Checkpoint Charlie: A standoff between Soviet and American tanks in Berlin, Germany heightens Cold War tensions.
  • October 30
    • Nuclear weapons testing: The Soviet Union detonates a 58-megaton yield hydrogen bomb known as Tsar Bomba over Novaya Zemlya. It remains the largest ever man-made explosion.
    • The Note Crisis: The Soviet Union issues a diplomatic note to Finland proposing military co-operation.
  • October 31
    • Hurricane Hattie devastates Belize City, Belize killing over 270. After the hurricane, the capital moves to the inland city of Belmopan.
    • Joseph Stalin's body is removed from the Lenin Mausoleum.


  • November 3 – The United Nations General Assembly unanimously elects U Thant to the position of acting Secretary-General.
  • November 8 – Imperial Airlines Flight 201/8 crashes while attempting to land at Richmond, Virginia, killing 77 persons on board.
  • November 9 – Neil Armstrong records a world record speed in a rocket plane of 6,587 km/h flying a X-15.
  • November 10 – Catch-22 is first published by Joseph Heller.
  • November 11
    • Congolese soldiers murder 13 Italian United Nations pilots.
    • Stalingrad is renamed Volgograd.
  • November 17 – Michael Rockefeller, son of New York Governor and later Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, disappears in the jungles of New Guinea.
  • November 18 – U.S. President John F. Kennedy sends 18,000 military advisors to South Vietnam.
  • November 24 – The World Food Programme (WFP) is formed as a temporary United Nations program.


  • December 1 – Netherlands New Guinea raises the new Morning Star flag and changes its name to West Papua.
  • December 2 – Cold War: In a nationally broadcast speech, Cuban leader Fidel Castro announces he is a Marxist–Leninist, and that Cuba will adopt socialism.
  • December 9
    • Tanganyika gains independence and declares itself a republic, with Julius Nyerere as its first President.
  • December 11
    • The American involvement in the Vietnam War officially begins, as the first American helicopters arrive in Saigon along with 400 U.S. personnel.
    • Adolf Eichmann is pronounced guilty of crimes against humanity by a panel of 3 Israeli judges.
  • December 14 – Walt Disney's first live-action Technicolor musical, Babes in Toyland, a remake of the famous Victor Herbert operetta, is released, but flops at the box office.
  • December 15 – An Israeli war crimes tribunal sentences Adolf Eichmann to die for his part in The Holocaust.
  • December 17 – A circus tent fire in Niterói, Brazil kills 323.
  • December 18 – India opens hostilities in its annexation of Portuguese India, the colonies of Goa, Damao and Diu.
  • December 19
    • The Portuguese surrender Goa to India after 400 years of Portuguese rule.
    • Indonesian president Sukarno announces that he will take West Irian by force if necessary.


  1. Wow Han...lots of info and I'll bet this is just a small portion of what happened that year. ;) Thanks for sharing.

    Hugs and Blessings...

    1. Impossible to make it a lot shorter, Cat. Well, it is possible but I do not only want to recall political facts but also other events the made an impression.



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