On This Day … 25 February


  • 1336 – Four thousand defenders of Pilenai commit mass suicide rather than be taken captive by the Teutonic Knights.
  • 1836 – Samuel Colt is granted a United States patent for his revolver firearm.
  • 1843 – Lord George Paulet occupies the Kingdom of Hawaii in the name of Great Britain in the Paulet Affair (1843).
  • 1916 – World War I: In the Battle of Verdun, a German unit captures Fort Douaumont, keystone of the French defences, without a fight.
  • 1918 – World War I: German forces capture Tallinn to virtually complete the occupation of Estonia.
  • 1921 – Georgian capital Tbilisi falls to the invading Russian forces after heavy fighting and the Russians declare the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic.
  • 1932 – Adolf Hitler, having been stateless for seven years, obtains German citizenship when he is appointed a Brunswick state official by Dietrich Klagges, a fellow Nazi.
    • As a result, Hitler is able to run for Reichspräsident in the 1932 election.
  • 1933 – Launch of the USS Ranger at Newport News, Virginia. It is the first purpose-built aircraft carrier to be commissioned by the US Navy.
  • 1939 – World War II: As part of British air raid precautions, the first of 21⁄2 million Anderson shelters is constructed in a garden in Islington, north London.
  • 1941 – World War II: The outlawed Communist Party of the Netherlands organises a general strike in German-occupied Amsterdam to protest against Nazi persecution of Dutch Jews.
  • 1947 – The formal abolition of Prussia is proclaimed by the Allied Control Council, the Prussian government having already been abolished by the Preußenschlag of 1932.
  • 1947 – Soviet NKVD forces in Hungary abduct Béla Kovács – secretary-general of the majority Independent Smallholders’ Party – and deport him to the USSR in defiance of Parliament.
    • His arrest is an important turning point in the Communist takeover of Hungary.
  • 1948 – In a coup d’état led by Klement Gottwald, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia takes control of government in Prague to end the Third Czechoslovak Republic.
  • 1980 – The government of Suriname is overthrown by a military coup led by Dési Bouterse.
  • 1986 – People Power Revolution: President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos flees the nation after 20 years of rule; Corazon Aquino becomes the Philippines’ first woman president.
  • 1991 – Disbandment of the Warsaw Pact at a meeting of its members in Budapest.

People (Births)

  • 1752 – John Graves Simcoe, English-Canadian general and politician, 1st Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada (d. 1806).
  • 1778 – José de San Martín, Argentinian general and politician, 1st President of Peru (d. 1850).
  • 1865 – Andranik, Armenian general (d. 1927).
  • 1888 – John Foster Dulles, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 52nd United States Secretary of State (d. 1959).
  • 1938 – Herb Elliott, Australian 1500 metres runner; 1960 Olympic champion and world record holder.
  • 1947 – Lee Evans, American sprinter and athletics coach; two gold medals and world 400m record at 1968 Olympics (d. 2021).
  • 1951 – Don Quarrie, Jamaican sprinter and coach; four Olympic medals and two world records.

People (Deaths)

  • 1601 – Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, English general and politician, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (b. 1566).
  • 1634 – Albrecht von Wallenstein, Austrian general and politician (b. 1583).
  • 1710 – Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, French soldier and explorer (b. 1639).
  • 1978 – Daniel James, Jr., American general and pilot (b. 1920).
  • 2020 – Dmitry Yazov, last Marshal of the Soviet Union (b. 1924).

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