A Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today.
Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Written by Alternate Historian

November 19

In 1943, the mass Escape at Janowska occured on this day occured. In the outskirts of Lwów, in which had once been Poland but was then under the fascist rule of Nazi Germany, the Janowska concentration camp for labor and transit stood (pictured, Members of a Sonderkommando 1005 unit pose next to a bone crushing machine).

Mass Escape at Janowska In the early days of World War II, the corner of Poland had become Russian territory in Hitler's deal with Stalin in the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. Knowing the coming persecution from the Nazis, Jews fled the western part of Poland and settled here as refugees, doubling the local Jewish population to 200,000. In 1941, Operation Barbarossa brought Germany east, and the Jews found themselves blamed under propaganda for massacres, then slaughtered and fenced like animals.

With some 13,000 already killed by 1942, the Germans restricted the northern part of Lwów into a ghetto and began deporting thousands more for extermination at Belzec. Others were taken to Nazi SS factories established on Janowska Street, forced to work for the German war machine and live in a nearby concentration camp. Janowska evolved further into a transit and processing camp, sorting victims into usable fodder and those who would simply be exterminated.

Toward the end of 1943, the war began to turn against Germany, and the Russians moved their front westward. As the Germans fell back, they worked to evacuate prisoners to cover their war crimes of mass murder. Under Sonderaktion 1005, systematic clearing of mass graves and execution of witnesses rushed to hide what had been done. In November, evacuation began at Janowska, with prisoners forced to exhume the dead and burn the bodies in hidden fires in the woods. Meanwhile, increased numbers were sent westward to extermination at unprecedented rates.

On November 19, an uprising began among the prisoners. Uprisings had been planned before, such as those by Pilecki at Auschwitz, but none seemed to meet with any hope of success. Janowska may very well have ended as a last desperate strike until a group of men who could have escaped decided to give up their freedom to fight back. Storming the arsenal at high casualties, the prisoners were able to arm themselves and establish a fortress. In the resulting firefight would ultimately result in Nazi crackdown of the camp, but by then some 6,000 well armed prisoners had escaped. While many of them would be recaptured, a majority would fall among the Polish Underground and survive the war.

The stories of the thousands of escaped Jews, Poles, and Russians reached public ears. Minor escapes had happened earlier in the Holocaust, such as Jacob Grojanowski in 1942, which created the Grojanowski Report on the war crimes by German command. While the BBC and New York Times reported on the gassing of Jews, Allied propaganda had downplayed the plight. Jan Karski, who had given testimony repeatedly on the murderous situation, even to Franklin Roosevelt himself in 1943, worked for years to call action against the Germans without much success.

Now with the thousands of freedmen spreading word across Europe, the Holocaust became impossible to ignore. Karski used his connections to give the story greater precedence, and finally the West listened. Candlelight vigils were held in London, New York, and Hollywood, and speeches were presented before Congress and Parliament. Nazi propaganda worked to contain rumors within German borders, though increased insurrection among prisoners dragged thousands of troops from the front.

In 1944, Pope Pius XII announced the condemnation of the Holocaust by the Catholic Church. The religious implications struck many of Germany's loyal Catholics, causing a political uproar that spun Germany into civil war. With unclear battle-lines and the approach of Allied troops, many Germans simply retreated home and washed their hands of the Third Reich. The war in Europe would be proclaimed an Allied victory December 12, 1944.

In the chaos, many of the perpetrators of the Holocaust would escape abroad, most eventually dragged back as the World Court sought justice. Hitler himself committed suicide while attempting to evade capture by Russian troops. Having gained political voice, the Jewish people would soon establish a new homeland in Israel in 1947 as well as cultural recognition, such as the works of journalist and novelist Anne Frank, who survived the Holocaust as a young girl.

In 1945, on this day Adolf Hitler and the Infamous Lava Man were both killed after a Schauberger "Repulsine" engine failure caused their sabotaged Haunebu-type Nazi saucer craft to crash land on approach to the secret base in New Swabia, Antarctica.
Click to watch the Nazi UFO Conspiracy on Youtube!

Farewell to the MagiciansCornered like a rat in Berlin, the Fuehrer had made a number of fantastically exaggerated claims for the secret technology with which he bought his escape from the Third Reich. And having issued upwards of a thousand emergency passports to German Scientists, the United States soon discovered that the UFO technology had been oversold, in fact like many American consumers they found the units exhibited many of the hallmarks of German products themselves, being over-featured, mostly safe but ultimately unsatisfying.

Despite his fast-talking, spittle-flying claims the Haunebu model had not transported Nazi Astronauts to the moon in 1942, rather the Repulsine engine lifted the craft just a few feet off the ground, permitting Hitler and Goering to engage in a somewhat childish if not futuristic game of bumper cars. Enraged by the double-cross, American agents had fixed the Fuehrer by sabotaging his lousy toy craft.

A new story by the EditorDespite well publicised failures at Roswell and Kecksberg, both the United States and Canada nevertheless persisted with the programme well into the 1970s, believing that the levational concept was fundamentally sound, just requiring the injection of a super fuel to accelerate flight to supersonic speeds. Finally, a suitable quantity of Element 115 was secured from aliens. Rushed to Area 51 for testing, the infinitely valuable fuel was then stolen by the pyrotechnic freak Bob Lazar who exploded the material at one of his annual Desert Storm Parties before becoming the victim of a mysterious hit and run shooting on a Las Vegas Highway.

In 2537 of Cyrus era the "King of Kings", Shahanshah Reza Pahlavi (pictured) became the first indigenous Middle Eastern leader to officially visit the State of Israel.

State VisitPrime Minister Yitzhak Rabin greeted the Royal Party at Moshe Sharett International Airport in West Jerusalem.

Accompanied by his wife, the Empress Farah, the Shah was then driven by limousine to the Knesset where he set out his views on how to achieve a comprehensive peace to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

He said during his visit that he hoped "that we can keep the momentum in Geneva, and may God guide the steps of Premier Rabin and Knesset, because there is a great need for hard and drastic decision".

"that we can keep the momentum in Geneva, and may God guide the steps of Premier Rabin and Knesset, because there is a great need for hard and drastic decision".He made the visit after receiving an invitation from Rabin and once again sought a permanent peace settlement.

This diplomatic breakthrough had a decidedly mixed reception in the Middle East provoking the fury of nationalist Arabs. Inside of three months, Persia would be attacked by the great nation of Iraq. The new dictator in Baghdad, Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majidida al-Tikriti had advanced plans to replace the Shah as the strongman in the Gulf. And the Soviet Union was very pleased to arm the Iraqis and create some fresh Cold War turbulence in the region.

In 1864, U.S. President Hannibal Hamlin dedicates a national cemetery on the site of the disastrous Battle of Gettysburg in July of the previous year. Dedication

The Union loss of that battle proved to be the turning point of the War of the States. News of the defeat ignited massive anti-draft riots in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and elsewhere, and was instrumental in persuading Britain and France to recognize the Confederacy. That recognition, in turn, provoked a further collapse of union morale. In December 1863, Kentucky had seceded from the Union.

At the 1864 Republican convention, with the Union war effort in tatters following the direct intervention of the British and French navies and Washington itself in Confederate hands, President Lincoln had been denied renomination in favor of his own vice-president, Hannibal Hamlin. Afterward, a dejected Lincoln had resigned and retired to his old home town of Springfield, Illinois.

President Hamlin had signed the treaty of Ontario in October, acknowledging Confederate independence. By then, Maryland, too, would have seceded from the Union. Hamlin's overwhelming defeat at the polls on Nov. 8, 1864 by Democratic candidate Gen. George McClellan had rendered him a lame duck by the time of the dedication ceremony, but in accordance with the custom of the time, he would not leave office until the following March 4.

On this day in 1962, Lee Harvey Oswald, the man suspected of assassinating Fidel Castro, died in his jail cell under mysterious circumstances. Found among his personal effects was a long and rambling letter in which he bitterly denounced Castro for not doing more to help the Soviet Union defeat the United States in the Florida Coast War.

 - Lee Harvey Oswald
Lee Harvey Oswald

On this day in 1972, the Dallas Cowboys earned their sixth win of the 1972 NFL season by walloping the Philadelphia Eagles 28-6 at Veterans Stadium.                                  


On this day in 1955, Sandy Koufax scored his 100th NBA career point in a 105-102 Celtics victory over the Fort Wayne Pistons at Boston Garden.

 - Sandy Koufax
Sandy Koufax

In 1959, Vice-President Richard M. Nixon announces that he intends to run for the White House. In his announcement he manages to imply, without actually saying so, that he has the endorsement of President Eisenhower. The President, who has never been on the best of terms with Nixon, is privately angry at this maneuver. However, with Joseph P. McCarthy again in the running, he allows Nixon's insinuation to go unchallenged: Ike's dislike for the Wisconsin senator, whom he considers a reckless demagogue, has steadily grown.


In 1962, Rep. John Bell Williams of Mississippi introduces parallel resolutions of impeachment against Chief Justice Earl Warren and President John F. Kennedy in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Williams asserts that Warren had earned removal by his 'unconstitutional and immoral' decision in 1954's Brown v. Board of Education and that Kennedy had violated his oath of office and corrupted the Constitution by using federal troops to enforce that decision.


Many Democrats, even among the House's Southern contingent, regard Williams as a crank. They are surprised, as are outside observers, when a growing number of congressmen of both parties step forward in support of one or both of Williams' resolutions. Both Warren and Kennedy are deeply resented by many on the right, who see Rep. Williams' move as a chance to do something about it.

In 2000, Vice President elect Dick Cheney, who had a history of heart trouble, died from a heart attack. The nation is in a rather unique situation, as the Vice-President-elect died before the Electoral College cast its votes. Bush had the dilemma of have the electors select a different VP, or if he will let the Congress do it once he's inaugurated.
In 1993, Nirvana recorded its MTV Unplugged album, easily the most popular of the 8 albums the group released before Kurt Cobain's solo career led to the band's breakup in 2001.
In 1924, film director Thomas Ince died suddenly at his home in Menlo Park, New Jersey. His closed-coffin ceremony, rumored affair with Carla Lambert, and wild reputation led many to believe that Thomas Edison had killed him. The truth, however, was that newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst shot him.
In 1920, President-elect Eugene V. Debs names Comrade Joe Hill of the American Labor Union as his Secretary of State. Hill's strong hand at the international rudder kept America sailing smoothly throughout the 20's. Hill never ran for elective office, although the Communist Party tried time and again to persuade him. As a Swedish immigrant, he was barred constitutionally from seeking the presidency, which was the only office he was said to have wanted.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln dedicated the battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania as a national cemetery, to bury the honored dead of the United States. The field is one of the most popular Civil War sites in the country. Lincoln apparently gave a brief speech while he was there, but history has little noted nor long remembered what was said there.
In 1704, the Bastille's most infamous prisoner, the man in the iron mask, died. Although still highly controversial, his identity can finally be revealed as [CENSORED FOR SECURITY REASONS]
In 1594, Tzar Ivan the terrible met his match at the hands of his son, Ivan the younger. The Tzar, angry at his son's pregnant wife, began to beat her. Ivan the younger, unable to contain himself, drew his sword and slew his father on the spot, elevating himself to the throne of Russia. The nation breathed a sigh of relief at the passing its cruel lord.

November 18

In 1886, on this day 21st President of the United States Chester Alan Arthur died in New York City of apoplexy, a cerebral haemorrhage and stroke. He was only fifty-six years old.

Death of President Chester A. ArthurAccording to his own account, he was born on October 5, 1829 in Fairfield, Vermont, he was the son of an abolitionist preacher. His father was an Irish immigrant and his mother came from Canada.

He was the running mate for James A. Garfield. Tragically, he wife Nell died of pneumonia on January 12, 1880 at the age of 42. And only two hundred days after inauguration, he was sworn in after the President was assassinated by Charles J. Guiteau at the Sixth Street Station of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad in Washington. Arthur never appointed a Vice President.

During his tenure, he created an impressive set of enemies that resisted his reform agenda. He was undone by the discovery [1] that he was born in Ireland and came to America aged fourteen. After his resignation, he was succeeded by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Solomon Foot who, in act of supreme of irony, was the Senator for Vermont.

In 1965, on this day 33rd President of the United States Henry Agard Wallace died in Danbury, Connecticut.

Death of President Henry A. WallaceBorn on October 7, 1888, at a farm near the village of Orient, Iowa, in Adair County, he was the son of Henry Cantwell Wallace, a farmer, journalist, and political activist. Like his father, he was appointed US Secretary of Agriculture serving until 1940 when he resigned, having been nominated for Vice President as Roosevelt's running mate in the presidential election. Three years later FDR died, and he rose to the Presidency.

Due to the Democrat party rule of allowing a sitting President to run uncontested, he gained re-election in 1944. In his second term, he made the critical decision to use the atomic bomb .. but only for demonstration purposes. As he expected Japan surrendered anyway, and he defended the decision from a moral perspective saying that he refused to usher in a "century of fear" [1]. After the war, he immediately threw all of his energies into achieving great power disarmament.

In 1923, longtime Alaska Senator and Vice-President Ted Stevens was born in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Birth of Longtime Alaska Senator and Vice-President Ted StevensServing in the Senate for twenty years before being chosen as President George H. W. Bush's vice-president,and for an additional decade thereafter following his reelection to his old seat in 1998, he was known as a fierce and often hot-tempered advocate for his state and for the ideological causes he supported.

But that long and productive career ended ignominiously. In October 2008, a federal jury in the District of Columbia found that Mr. Stevens had concealed more than $250,000 in gifts and convicted him on seven felony counts. Eight days later, he lost a bid for a sixth term to Mayor Mark Begich of Anchorage, a Democrat.

The following April, however, the conviction was thrown out by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan at the request of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. Mr. Holder said prosecutors, who had been chided by the judge for withholding information from the defense, had concealed interview notes in which the chief witness against Mr. Stevens told a story different from the one he told on the stand.

Mr. Stevens said the case against him had initially shaken his faith in the judicial system. But after Mr. Holder's and Judge Sullivan's actions, he said, "My faith has been restored".

Mr. Stevens was one of five people killed in the crash in a mountainous area of southwest Alaska as their plane was heading to a fishing lodge, Gov. Sean Parnell of Alaska said Tuesday. Four others on the plane survived. Mr. Stevens had survived a plane crash in Alaska in 1978, suffering injuries while his first wife, the former Ann Cherrington, and four others were killed.

Mr. Stevens liked to remind Alaskans of what he had done for them. "From frozen tundra," he said in his 2008 campaign, "we built airports, roads, ports, water and sewer systems, hospitals, clinics, communications networks, research labs and much, much more". He drew large amounts of military spending to the state as well as money for small businesses.

Mr. Stevens's legislative work in the 1970s included passing major bills settling native land claims that had been left in limbo when statehood was established in 1959; creating the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which made the state rich; and protecting the state's fisheries from exploitation.

In 2000, the State Legislature named Mr. Stevens the Alaskan of the Century, saying he "represents Alaska's finest contribution to our national leadership". In his farewell speech on Nov. 20, 2008, he told the Senate, "Working to help Alaska achieve its potential has been and will continue to be my life's work".

But he was roundly and repeatedly criticized for the billions he funneled to his state. The watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste said Mr. Stevens regularly got Alaska more dollars per capita than any other state, often through earmarks, the pet projects that lawmakers attach to legislation.

Mr. Stevens fiercely defended earmarks, saying Alaska had special needs because the federal government owned much of its land; because the state's rugged terrain and severe weather required particular help; because, as the 49th state, Alaska needed to catch up with its elders; because its proximity to Russia made it strategically important; and because its oil and gas were national resources. Stevens's pursuit of federal money for projects in Alaska while in the Senate and his aggressive assistance to fellow Alaskan Frank Murkowski while vice-president earned him the not entirely flattering title of "emperor of earmarks".

Even fellow conservative Republicans were not immune to Stevens's arm-twisting tactics. For example, when Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma tried to shift $452 million that had been allocated for two bridges in Alaska, the so-called Bridges to Nowhere, to rebuild a Louisiana highway wrecked by Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Stevens warned that he would wreak havoc.

"If you want a wounded bull on the floor of the Senate, pass this amendment," he said. The measure was defeated, 82 to 15, but Alaska later dropped the project.

Mr. Stevens's conviction, for seven violations of the Ethics in Government Act, did not allege that he had traded any of this spending for personal favors. The bulk of the gifts, which he failed to report on a Senate form, consisted of renovations to his home in Girdwood, Alaska. They were paid for by Bill Allen, a longtime friend and the owner of an oil services construction company.

Testifying in court, Mr. Stevens said that his wife, Catherine, had been in charge of the renovation and that he did not know what Mr. Allen had provided.

After the government moved to throw out his conviction, within months of his election defeat, Mr. Stevens expressed dismay at the political cost, both to him and to his party, saying, "It is unfortunate that an election was affected by proceedings now recognized as unfair".

Theodore Fulton Stevens was born on Nov. 18, 1923, in Indianapolis, the third of four children of George A. Stevens and the former Gertrude S. Chancellor. The family later moved to Chicago, where his father lost his job as an accountant after the 1929 stock market crash. His parents divorced, and after his father died, young Ted moved to Manhattan Beach, Calif., to live with an aunt.

Joining the Army Air Corps in World War II, Mr. Stevens flew transport planes over the perilous "Hump" route in the eastern Himalayas to take supplies into China from India. He was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses and two Air Medals.

After the war, he graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, and Harvard Law School. He joined a law firm in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1953 and soon afterward became the federal prosecutor there. In 1956, he went to Washington, D.C., to work in the Department of the Interior on Alaska statehood.

Moving back to Alaska, he opened a law firm in Anchorage, served in the Legislature and made two unsuccessful runs for the Senate before he was appointed to fill a vacancy in December 1968. He was elected to fill the last two years of the term in 1970 and easily won re-election until his defeat in 2008. Republicans made him their Senate whip in 1977, though he was defeated in a bid for majority leader by Bob Dole in 1984.

In December 1978 Mr. Stevens was aboard a twin-engine Lear jet when it crashed at Anchorage International Airport while returning from the capital, Juneau. Five people on the plane, including Mr. Stevens's first wife, Ann, 49, and the pilot and co-pilot, were killed. Mr. Stevens, one of two passengers to survive, was hospitalized with head, neck and arm injuries.

In 1980, he married Catherine Chandler.

In 1988, then-Vice President George H. W. Bush chose the then 64-year-old Sen. Stevens to run with him for the White House against Democrat Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts and Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas. Bush won 40 states, easily overcoming Democrats' mockery of the GOP ticket as "the Oil Twins". Bush had reprtedly been considering Indiana Sen. J. Danforth Quayle, but had been persuaded to choose Stevens instead by party insiders who considered Quayle too young and callow. In office, Vice-President Stevens proved a forceful advocate for President Bush's policies. Unfortunately for both men, that proved to be insufficient to overcome voter dissatisfaction in 1992 after a deep recession and a series of perceived missteps by President Bush in handling the aftermath of the Reagan-era "Iran-contra" affair. Bush and Stevens were defeated for reelection by Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and running-mate Sen. Albert Gore Jr. of Tennessee.

Stevens's departure from the Senate in January 1989 allowed Alaska's Democratic governor, Steve Cowper, to appoint a reeplacement, Lieut. Gov. Stephen McAlpine. Although a competent senator, McAlpine proved no match for Stevens's political skills when then latter decided to bid for restoration to his old seat in 1998.

When the first President Bush's son, George W. Bush, defeated Vice-President Gore in the controversial election of 2000, Stevens was offered the post of Interior Secretary in the new administration, but declined, stating that he believed he could do more good for the country and for his state as a senator than as a Cabinet officer. Political observers suggested that an unstated reason for his refusal was discomfort with the younger Bush, whom he had encountered during his vice-presidential years and helped to get out of trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission when it charged him with insider trading in 1991 in reegard to oil-industry investments. Nevertheless, after 9-11, Sen. Stevens would fiercely defend the second Bush administration's antiterrorism policies, including the invasion forst of Afghanistan and then of Iraq.

Besides his second wife, survivors include five children from his first marriage, Susan B. Covich of Kenai, Alaska, Elizabeth H. Stevens of Washington, Walter, of Scottsdale, Ariz., Theodore Jr., of Menlo Park, Calif., and Ben, of Anchorage; a daughter from his second marriage, Lily I. Becker of San Francisco; and 11 grandchildren.

Mr. Stevens often expressed contempt for those he called "extreme environmentalists" for their opposition to development in Alaska.

"Most of them are hired people who are just hucksters selling slick-backed magazines and national memberships," he said in 1990. But in 2006, he opposed construction of the Pebble Mine, a vast open pit to extract gold, copper and molybdenum, saying it would threaten the Bristol Bay salmon fishery.

He was critical of environmental objections to drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. In 2003, after another effort to open up the area for drilling had failed, he said: "People who vote against this today are voting against me. I will not forget it".

Though generally conservative in his votes, Mr. Stevens questioned President Ronald Reagan's level of military spending, supported the Title IX legislation to give women equal access in institutions receiving federal aid, backed spending for public radio, supported a ban on smoking in federal buildings and endorsed tougher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.

When he faced a tough Senate debate, Mr. Stevens wore a tie featuring the image of the Incredible Hulk, the comic book superhero.

"I'm a mean, miserable S.O.B.," he once proclaimed as appropriations chairman.

Indeed, in the halls of Congress, he was known for his temper; it was voted the "hottest" on Capitol Hill in 2006 in a poll of Congressional staff members by Washingtonian magazine.

Mr. Stevens did not argue with the characterization. "I didn't lose my temper," he once said. "I know right where it is".

In 2005, on this day the American biographical drama film "Walk the Line" was released in movie theatres across the United States. An installment from the Happy Endings thread

Happy Endings Part 26b:
Cash Family Values
It made great cinema, but the mis-portrayal of both his spouses had already caused controversy because of John's desertion of his first wife and four children [1]. During private family viewings, Kathy Cash had walked out no less than five times over the misleading depiction of her mother, John's first wife Vivian as nagging and hard-riding.

The fine acting performance of Joaquin Phoenix rung true - with minor quibbles. Certainly, he had made an impressive effort to "get in character", spending time with Cash in the months prior to his death, role-modelling the singer's "rough diamond" roguish behaviour which was diametrically opposed to his own "super smoothie" character. Whereas Reece Witherspoon presented a far younger, "poppy" more contemporary character that bore little resemblance to the repressed real-life character. In short, she had made June into a loosened up dancing pop star that she certainly wasn't on camera, where she appeared radiant but nevertheless uncomfortable, stiff, hesitant and withdrawn. Of course June featured on WSM Radio before meeting John, so perhaps she was less comfortable with the medium, but certainly Reece Witherspoon's version was enthralled by live performance.

The criticism levelled at the film-makers was that they had artificially created a sympathetic characterisation that suited the actors. Perhaps the circumstances of the era were beyond the understanding of the modern audience. Being under contract, Reece Witherspoon couldn't respond to the criticism directly, but early in 2006 she made it known that she did not want to be considered for any form of award. The justification given was respect for Vivian who had died in May, 2006 just six months before the film's release. Ironically, it was the gritty outcome that typified John's whole life and in a deeper sense gave underlying soul to his music.

In 1946, having eliminated the Fellowship of the Ring scene where Saruman proposes to Gandalf that the Wizards take the Ring for themselves and challenge Sauron for the mastery of Middle Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien set about introducing a dramatically modified version of the same outcome into The Two Towers.

Wizard! Part 4
LOTR, the Kick Ass Edition
In the original text, Gandalf had failed to meet Frodo en route to Rivendell because he had been imprisoned at Isengard for refusing to reveal the location of Durin's Bane. Disappointed by the slow pace of the trilogy his son Christopher had suggested that the meeting was brought forward to the earlier location in Bree as planned. Because of this fork in the plot, Gandalf is not summoned to Isengard and is thus unaware that his fellow Istari was creating his own army of Orcs and wolves, "in rivalry of Sauron, and not in his service yet" and that the green valley below Orthanc "was now filled with pits and forges".

Based on an idea from Steven FisherIn the modified final chapter of FOTR a dramatic aerial battle ensues between the Nazgûl and Great Eagles during which Frodo recovers the Ring from the Balrog but in so doing is mortally wounded with the Morgul blade by the Witch-king of Angmar. In the confusion, the Fellowship is broken, and Frodo is taken to Isengard where the Ring is seized by Saruman, Gandalf's superior as the head of the White Council.

The context of War of the Ring has now changed dramatically, with open conflict breaking out between The Two Towers of Barad-dÊr and Orthanc. The breath-taking prospect of Uruk-hai versus Mordor Orcs hugely excited Tolkien. And yet this dramatic change in the plot presented a huge challenge of the imagination. Should he persist in the course of events where Gandalf et al. travel to Edoras to try to convince the Riders of Rohan to attack Isengard - but in this case, to rescue Frodo and seize the Ring by force, if that is even possible. Or should they press on to Minas Tirith and reform a great alliance of men and Elves that combats whichever of the masters of the Two Towers that prevails?
This article is part of the Wizard thread.

In 1307, in a legendary act that seemed almost Biblical in magnitude, Albrecht Gessler, the Austrian bailiff of the Alpine town of Altdorf, set his hat atop a pole in the center of town.

William Tell Misses He ordered the townspeople to bow before it in recognition of the Austrian emperor (although, as it was his own hat and thus "crown", they may have been bowing to him). The Alps had been under the influence of various foreign ruling houses such as Savoy and Kyburg who maintained key passes for military supremacy. In 1264, Kyburg toppled, and the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph I claimed the Swiss territory as his own.

After decades of rule, local Swiss grumbled, and Gessler was dispatched to quell them. Many suspected that the emperor sent him there to provoke the Swiss so that an Austrian invasion would seem a peacekeeping force, but such secrets would remain behind closed doors. Gessler conducted government business with a heavy hand, staging rules to find naysayers and execute them before the rabble was roused.

While other townsfolk bowed to the hat, a hunter named William Tell walked through the square and refused to bow. Gessler had him arrested and gave him a choice: be executed outright or use his crossbow to knock an apple from his son Walter's head. Tell, an expert marksman, chose the apple. Surrounded by Austrian troops, Tell would trust his skills and play the overlord's game. If he missed, both he and his son would be executed. If he struck true, as he felt certain he would, they would be given freedom.

During the attempt, a man coughed behind Tell, breaking his concentration enough to have the arrow bury itself several inches below the apple. As Walter fell dead, Tell turned on Gessler and fired a second arrow, killing the Austrian instantly. Guards seized Tell and nearly beat him to death before their captain stopped them. Tell would be sent back to Austria and put on trial for murder.

The case at court would prove instrumental in establishing political jurisdiction over Switzerland for Austria. While the Swiss balked at their lack of freedom, the Austrian crown gradually began to assert control by giving sway in the competition for Holy Roman Emperor against the Luxembourgs. Rather than a crackdown militarily, the Austrians offered pacts to the various Alpine communities such as Uri and Berne, creating a confederation that would evolve into Austrian domination by the fifteenth century.

The uproar of the Reformation broke apart the Holy Roman Empire and spilled southward into the Alps, led before his death by Huldrych Zwingli. Seizing freedom of religion as an opportunity to seek political freedom as well, the confederation shattered and set about militarized valleys among the mountains. Guerrilla warfare pitted communities against one another and, especially, against Austrian influence. With such interruption in the south, the Swedish-backed northern Germans were able to free themselves from Roman authority early in the Twenty-five Years' War.

Switzerland would come under heavy sway in the Counter-Reformation following those violent years. Ideals of religious freedom were cast aside as heresy and disunity, and great significance was put into building up cathedrals and Catholic institutions, even to the cost of economic growth. Much of Europe would pass by Switzerland in this time, but the resilience would be recognized as the key to halting French invasion in 1798. Empowered by victories during the growth of Nationalism, Switzerland would seek independence in 1870 from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, gaining great military support from Giuseppe Garibaldi, whose unification of Italy also fought against Austrian imperialism. Finally standing as its own free republic, Switzerland would follow Italy and its neighbor Bavaria into Fascism in the early twentieth century. After the war defeated fascist thought, Switzerland would be occupied by French and American troops, eventually returned to its own elections. In 1997, Switzerland joined the European Union, hoping to gain much of the economic and technological improvement it had missed for so many years.

In 1987, Congress issued its indictments in the Iran-Contra scandal, beginning with Vice-President Bush and including several senior members of the Reagan administration.

Iran-Contra affairThese officials had secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, the subject of an arms embargo, hoping to secure the release of hostages and allow U.S. intelligence agencies to fund the Nicaraguan Contras. Problem was, under the Boland Amendment, further funding of the Contras by the government had been expressly prohibited by Congress.

Although President Reagan pardoned Bush himself, almost twenty members of this administration still faced jail time, and the vote to impeach Reagan barely failed in the Senate.

In 2016, former British prime minister David Cameron, his physical and psychological health irreversibly broken by the United Kingdom's collapse, died of a cerebral aneurysm in a London hospital at the age of 50.

 - David Cameron
David Cameron

Cameron's passing marked the final blow to a Conservative Party that had been steadily disintegrating over the past year; there was nobody to rally the party in the face of the worst political crisis England had seen in centuries, and within a matter of months after Cameron's death the party itself was extinct.

Hamilton Tiger

In 1984, on this day the Winnipeg Blue Bombers made their first Grey Cup finals appearance since 1956, taking on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a rematch of the 1953 championship game.

Hamilton Tiger - Cats Logo
Cats Logo

Taking the opportunity to purge the last remaining ghosts of their defeat in the '53 game, Hamilton rang up 21 unanswered first quarter points and never looked back; they would go on to win the 84 title matchup by a final score of 51-16.

On this day in 1973, the Cowboys notched their eighth win of the 1973 NFL season with a 34-6 stomping of the Philadephia Eagles at the Cotton Bowl.                                      


In 1928, the cartoon character Mickey Mouse made his debut in the animated short Steamboat Willie.

Tepid audience response to the character helps persuade his creator, Walter Elias Disney, to abandon the field of film animation. Disney will later work with famed producer-director Cecil B. DeMille on live-action Biblical films, and in the 1950s will produce several modestly successful adaptations of literary works, including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which features a young Charles Bronson.

 - Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse
In 1978, several hundred followers of the Reverend Pat Robertson commit mass suicide at their compound in Robertsonville, Liberia. Robertson had led them to the African nation to escape what he called 'persecution' from the Soviet States government; the reality was that he was being investigated for outright fraud and abuse against his followers. When Congressman Comrade Laugh Faircloth, who had constituents among Robertson's followers, arrived at the compound to view the conditions there, he was assassinated by Robertson's security, prompting the Reverend to order his followers to 'Join hands and march into Heaven', according to a tape of Robertson's last speech at the scene.
In 1969, former president Joseph Kennedy dies at his home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts at the age of 81. Although his fortune came from questionable beginnings, Kennedy levied it and the reputation of having lost 2 sons to the war effort in World War II into successful presidential bids in 1956 and 1960.

November 17

In 1603, on this day Sir Walter Raleigh was acquitted. Upon the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603, many Catholics saw the time of transition when Scottish James I took the English throne as the chance to overthrow the Protestant government.

Sir Walter Raleigh Acquitted England had officially separated from Rome in 1534 under Henry VIII, who repeatedly fought to keep his position as head of the Church of England. The wars continued, primarily with Spain, through the reign of his daughter Elizabeth, though she would take a fairly neutral stance on Catholicism compared to Henry. The Virgin Queen had no issue, and the crown passed to her relative James VI of Scotland, who was not uniformly welcomed to the throne.

In the midst of the uneasiness, many Catholics thought that a single push would overthrow the Protestant rule of the country, and conspiracies were born. Most famous would be the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 with its close-call to the destruction of Parliament, but there would also be Bye Plot (in which Catholic priests hoped to kidnap James I to force the repeal of anti-Catholic laws) and the Main Plot both in 1603. Funded by Spain and led by men such as Henry Brooke, his brother Sir George (who would be executed after trial in the Bye Plot), and military man Thomas Grey, the plot involved raising up an army to storm London and place James's cousin Arabella on the throne. Henry Brooke, the Lord Cobham, was in contact with the court of Spain and would collect money for the plot by travelling circuitously from London to Brussels to Spain and then back to London via Jersey, where Sir Walter Raleigh was governor. As the conspiracy came to trial, Raleigh would be dragged into it.

Raleigh was familiar with scandal. He had secretly married one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting, Elizabeth Throckmorton, without permission in 1591, and the couple was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Shortly thereafter, however, Raleigh was released as he was one of the leading Englishmen with knowledge of the New World and worked to divide the spoils of the captured Spanish Madre de Dios. His fortunes would bounce back, just as they had after his failed experiment with Roanoke Colony. In 1593, he was made a burgess and later elected to Parliament (sitting for three counties in 1603). The next year, he came upon the story of "El Dorado", a golden city at the headwaters of the Caroni River, a tributary of the Orinoco, and traveled to explore the northern coast of South America. Upon his return, Raleigh wrote The Discovery of Guiana and made exciting, if exaggerated, claims about his voyage. He returned to favor with exploits in battles with Spain and was named Governor of Jersey, from which he would be recalled in 1603 under suspicion of conspiracy and treason.

Cobham had given a sworn confession involving Raleigh, attempting to name names as his brother George Brooke had done turning Cobham in during the Bye trials. Raleigh denounced the evidence as "hearsay", which was outright inadmissible in common law, though it could be heard in this civil law case of treason. General Attorney Edward Coke, who was new to his position and gaining great fame as he prosecuted numerous treasonous conspirators, refused to allow Cobham to testify in person as Cobham was described by contemporaries to say "one thing at one time, and another thing in another, and could be relied upon in nothing". Coke used personal attacks such as "notorious traitor", "vile viper" and "damnable atheist" in lieu of actual evidence, and finally Raleigh was able to point out that Coke was acting simply out of desperation in his duty to prosecute by order of the king. James I recognized this, and the charges were dismissed.

Raleigh returned to his positions and completing his improvements of the Jersey defenses before pressing on with his aspirations of discovering El Dorado. He gathered investors and equipment for not just an expedition, but a colony at the delta of the Orinoco to supply further expeditions up river. Raleigh's bravado worked to his advantage in keeping the Spanish farther west and establishing an effective new Jamestown. The colony would later be governed by his son Wat after Raleigh disappeared into the jungle on one of his many expeditions and never returned. Orinoco proved a key military position between coastal Spanish Venezuela and the Dutch colonies forming to the east, many of which would be conquered in the later Anglo-Dutch wars.

Orinoco proved a fairly profitable, if non-noteworthy, plantation colony for the British Empire in the next several centuries. By the early 1900s, its vast oil fields became a valuable commodity, and since then Orinoco has been one of the richest corners of the Commonwealth, looked upon with envy by other former colonies and routinely doing well in sporting matches from its state-of-the-art national stadium, El Dorado.

In 1292, on this day John Balliol became King of Scotland.

Triumph of the Empty CoatBecause the Bruces had invited King Edward I of England to mediate over the Scot's disputed rulership, John was required to obey the English Monarch who as Lord Paramount of Scotland was the feudal superior of the realm. But he soon grew weary of the humiliation, rose in rebellion and was then imprisoned in the Tower of London. He later fled to France although the English relieved him of his possessions at the Port of Dover.

The arms of Scotland were formally torn from John's surcoat, giving him the abiding name of "Toom Tabard" (empty coat). For a decade, the throne was empty, until it was seized by Robert the Bruce who fought to regain Scotland's status as an independent nation. But upon his death, his son David II was forced out by Edward Balliol, and so the wheel had turned full circle.

In 1962, on this day President John F. Kennedy dedicated Washington Dulles International Airport, named after John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State under Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Veteran's International AirportThe former Secretary of State had fought a long, painful and public battle against the cancer that eventually killed him, keeping up a punishing work schedule that involved long-distance air travel. When he died, sentiment was in favour of naming the capital's new airport in his honour.

Twenty-eight years later America celebrated the centennial of Eisenhower's birth. President Robert Dole proposed the renaming to Dwight D. Eisenhower International Airport. The Dulles family was none too pleased. Sister Eleanor said the name change "is an attempt to honour somebody by demeaning someone else". But of course it was hard to deny Dole, after all, he was a war hero that knew a thing or two about sacrifice, he had lost much of his mobility as a result of a dreadful wound that he collected in the service of country during the fighting at Castel d'Aiano. And so they mutually agreed upon an excellent future-proofed alternative, the current moniker of Veteran's International Airport.

In 1183, on this day the Genpei War took an unexpected turn when a Minamoto force seized the Taira military base on Yashima, a small island off the coast of Shikoku.

Battle of MizushimaThe army that General Minamoto no Yoshinaka (pictured) had sent an army to cross the Inland Sea to Yashima engaged the Taira just offshore of Mizushima.

The Taira made a tactical error by tieing their ships together, and placed planks across them to form a flat fighting surface. The battle began with archers loosing a rain of arrows upon the Minamoto boats; when the boats were close enough, daggers and swords were drawn, and the two sides engaged in hand-to-hand combat. However the Taira were undone by the inflexibility of their static line of defence and the Minamoto warriors prevailed.

The victory almost certainly brought forward the establishment of the Kamakura shogunate under Minamoto Yoritomo.

In 1558, on this day Queen Mary I of England died and was succeeded by Elizabeth Tailboys, Henry VIII's illegitimate daughter born to his long-time lover Bessie Blount.

Elizabethan Era BeginsHer ascension triggered an immediate challenge from Mary's half-sister, who confusingly was also called Elizabeth (Tudor, pictured). And the resulting Civil War was therefore known as the Elizabethan Era, which of course drew to a sudden close when King Phillip of Spain's armada set sail.

The pretender's prospects of success were greatly enhanced by the clear landing zone [1] she organized. And when she finally seized the throne and threw Tailboys into the Tower of London, Elizabeth Tudor, that traitorous Spanish stool pidgeon was sarcastically labelled "Good Queen Bess".

In 1938, on this day suspicions that the attempt on Prof. Richard Pearson's life was part of a larger Nazi conspiracy against the American scientific community were heightened when U.S. Army intelligence cryptologists decoded a series of cable intercepts originating from the Berlin headquarters of Germany's Abwehr foreign espionage agency.

Part Eight of Parley These cables, initially transmitted to the German embassy in Washington and then forwarded to German undercover agents throughout the United States, contained detailed instructions for assassinating prominent American scientists and attacking facilities known or suspected to be associated with the overall Western research and development efforts to master Martian technology.

Interestingly enough, these cables made no mention of the Manhattan Project, suggesting the German government wasn't yet aware of its existence.

In 1973, President Spiro T. Agnew, under investigation both for his possible role in offenses relating to the June 1972 break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C.'s Watergate Hotel and for alleged bribery and kickbacks dating from his time as governor of Maryland, gave a rambling speech defending himself which was most memorable for his assurance that "I am not a crook. The President of the United States is not a crook".

Driven from Office by Eric LippsAgnew had succeeded to the presidency upon the unexpected death of President Richard M. Nixon from an aortic aneurysm on January 24, just days after Nixon had been sworn in for a second term after winning a landslide victory over Democrat George S. McGovern in the 1972 presidential election.

"I am not a crook. The President of the United States is not a crook".Later, some would argue Nixon had been the luckier one. The Watergate investigation would turn up extensive evidence of presidential misconduct, which would certainly have put him at risk of impeachment. His death in effect left Agnew holding the bag for those misdeeds. But it would be the revelations emerging from Maryland which would prove more damaging, ultimately not only forcing Agnew from office but making him the first U.S. President ever sentenced to prison. Although the prison sentence was suspended, ex-President Agnew would be fined $10,000 and would live out the remainder of his life as a political pariah, shunned even by Republican conservatives who had once looked to him to speak for them.

In 1972, speaking on Radio Kampala on this day the President of Uganda Idi Amin Dada (pictured) declared "economic warfare" by announcing a set of Africanisation policies that included the expropriation of properties owned by Asians, Jews and Europeans.

Idi Amin declares economic war on ethnic minoritiesNot only would Amin's repatriation plans for Africanization ravage the national economy, they would attempt to destroy the lives of two ethnic groups who had been born in the country, their ancestors having come to Uganda when the country was still a British colony. Yet the reactions of these persecuted minorities would be very different.

Uganda's 80,000 Asians were mostly from the Indian subcontinent, many owned businesses, including large-scale enterprises, that formed the backbone of the Ugandan economy. Amin issued a decree ordering the expulsion of the 60,000 Asians who were not Ugandan citizens and most of them held British passports. This was later amended to include all 80,000 Asians, with the exception of professionals, such as doctors, lawyers and teachers. A plurality of the Asians with British passports, around 30,000, emigrated to Britain. Others went to Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan, Sweden, and the U.S.

"In any country there must be people who have to die. They are the sacrifices any nation has to make to achieve law and order". ~ Idi AminSince 1903, 250,000 Zionists had settled the 5,000 square mile Mau Plateau after British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain gave a portion of British East Africa to the Jewish people as a homeland under the British Uganda Program. The offer was a response to pogroms against the Jews in Russia, and it was hoped the area could be a refuge from persecution for the Jewish people.

Recognising an unmistakeable threat to the future of the Jewish Homeland, and determined to prevent a repeat of the Russian pogroms, a special forces mission, "Operation Thunderball" was ordered by the Zionist leadership. Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan "Yoni" Netanyahu led a team of commandoes from the Israeli Defense Force who secretly landed in Entebbe Airport and drove an exact replica of Amin's Mercedes into the Presidential Compound where Yoni killed the Head of State with a burst from his Kalashnikov. Netanyahu was also shot in the raid, but survived due to the timely intervention of Dora Bloch, a 75-year-old hostage who had been seized at Mulago Hospital in Kampala with some of her doctors and nurses.

In 1989, what would later be known as the Velvet Rebellion began with the suppression if a peaceful demonstration in Prague, Czechoslovakia (pictured). Velvet Revolution Fails by Eric Lipps

That event would lead to an escalating cycle of protest and repression which would end in December with the direct intervention of Soviet military forces.

The Czech rebellion would prove to be the last straw for opponents of Mikhail Gorbachev within the Soviet military and government.

On January 2, 1990, Gorbachev would be forcibly deposed and a hard-line Stalinist government backed by the Red Army would take control in Moscow. Thereafter, the Soviet grip on Eastern Europe would be tightened once more, forestalling what might have been a peaceful end to the Cold War which could have averted the global holocaust of June 1999.

In 2008, on this day French police arrested Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina (pictured).Txeroki arrested by Chris Oakley & Todayinah Ed.

"Txeroki" is the suspected military leader of the Basque Unity Militia, a group sponsored by Spain's neo-fascist government which sought to forcibly reunite the Basque Republic with the rest of Spain, from which the Republic had seceded in 1940. The Basque news agency, Vasco Press, said that Mr Garikoitz Aspiazu, whose nickname means Cherokee, had been detained along with another suspected terrorist group member in the town of Cauterets, and the arrest was a "severe blow" to the terrorist group.

The arrest of Mr Garikoitz Aspiazu, 35, which took place overnight in the Hautes-Pyrenees region of France, follows the detention of the terrorist group's alleged political commander, Javier Lopez Pena alias 'Thierry', in the French city of Bordeaux in May. The French interior ministry did not provide any other details about the arrest, but said he was "suspected of being the perpetrator" of the murder of two civil guard officers in Capbreton on 1 December 2007, shot during a surveillance operation on suspected terrorist group members.

"This arrest shows again the resolute commitment of the French police and gendarmerie in the fight against all forms of terrorism and illustrates once again the excellent co-operation between France and the Basque Republic in the fight against state sponsored terrorism. Today Basque Unity Militia is weaker and Basque autonomy is stronger". The French statement added.

In 1960, on this day a delegation of civil defense officials from New Orleans visited New York City to learn how the lessons of the Jamaica Bay hurricane could be applied to protecting their own city against future storms.

Red Army

On this day in 1941, the Third Battle of Kursk ended with a Soviet victory as Red Army cavalry broke through the German lines at Prokhorovka and drove the Germans into retreat.

Red Army - Logo

In 1973, under increasing pressure in regard to his role in the escalating Watergate scandal, President Nixon holds an hour-long question-and-answer session with 400 Associated Press managing editors. Insisting that he has done nothing illegal, he assures them, "I am not a crook".

 - Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon

On this day in 2015, post-production work was finished on the sequel to Jerry Bruckheimer's film adaptation of his hit TV crime series CSI: Crime Scene Investigations.

 - Jerry Bruckenheimer
Jerry Bruckenheimer

In 1967, Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota announces he will run for president.

McCarthy's entry into the race reflects growing public dissatisfaction with the wars in Cuba and Vietnam, both of which the Senator opposed.

 - Eugene McCarthy
Eugene McCarthy
In 1901, Israel Strassberg was born in Budzanov, in what later became Ukraine. As many young men of his era did, he went to the fledgling Soviet Union during the revolution and stayed to help build the worker's paradise. He was appointed the head of the Actor's Studio in 1950, and his 'Method' acting techniques influenced generations of Soviet actors.
In 1887, Bernard Law Montgomery, known affectionately as Monty to his troops, was born in London, England. Although Monty clashed with other generals, it is widely recognized that he saved the Allies by assuming the position of Supreme Commander in 1944 prior to the invasion of France. With his steady hand at the helm, World War II ended victoriously for the Allies in 1946.
In 1875, the North American Theosophical Society was founded in New York City, the capitol of the North American Confederation. Helena Blavatsky, a mystic from Russia, claimed to have psychic knowledge of the Mlosh homeworld, delivered to her by extra-dimensional beings on alternate planes of existence. Although the scientific community pronounced the woman a charlatan, many people, Mlosh and human, flocked to hear her speak; she did put on a good show, after all.
In 1963, US President John F Kennedy expires in the White House following an accidental misadministration of the daily shots of corticosteroids that he required to stay alive. Lyndon Baines Johnson and Richard Nixon urgently wired 'the team' to stand-down, issuing the code name 'Rome Falls'.
In 1286, the Egyptian Caliph opens a great canal that connects the ancient Mediterrannean with the Red Sea. This eliminates the need to travel completely around the African continent or go over land to reach Europe from eastern lands, and makes Egypt the greatest trading power in Islam.
In 2007, having failed to qualify for Euro 2000, English football reached a new nadia. Austria, a team ranked 88th in the world rankings beat England in a friendly match. The national team signed a petition urging Austria to pull out of Euro 2008 and give their automatic spot to the best team that missed out in the qualifying competition. Which ironically, was England.

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© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.