Monday, December 28, 2020

Today -100: December 28, 1920: Of fine deaths, malicious injuries, deportations, broken atoms, and blums

Italian forces push back d’Annunzio’s legionaries to within a mile of the center of Fiume and capture the railroad station and the Public Gardens. The town is under bombardment. The ships that defected to Fiume from the Italian Navy are being sunk. The poet-aviator has 4 bridges blown up and roads mined.. He clearly intends to bring Fiume down in rubble on the invaders’ heads, so it’s all very dramatic. One Paris newspaper says, “A poet is having men killed in order to have a fine death for himself.” Repeating his wartime feat, d’Annunzio drops leaflets from his plane on Italian troops asking they desert.

The British Parliament passes a law making local Irish councils responsible for paying compensation for IRA “malicious injuries” as a priority over all other budgetary items. The IRA responds by demanding that rate collectors either resign or hand over their collections.

Preliminary talks flounder immediately when the British demand that all IRA weapons be handed over as a condition of any truce.

Rep. Julius Kahn (R for Racist-CA) says Japan can be satisfied by California passing a law banning all foreigners, not just Asiatics, from owning land. In exchange, Japan would ban all its citizens from emigrating to the US. I think I detect a big ol’ racist loophole, which the NYT does not point out: Asians are barred from ever becoming citizens of the US, but other immigrants (Kahn, for example, came from Germany) can.

Mariane Duszak arrived from Poland with her 3 children aged 5 to 7 to join her husband, but she fails her literacy test and they’ll be deported, after the kids get out of the hospital for measles, because of that immigration law passed over Wilson’s veto.

German engineer Willi von Unruh has invented a device that can break up the atom. He’s demonstrated it in his house, and been offered £1 million if it can be removed and tested, but he refused. Anyway, he’s in jail now, and it’s beginning to look like his wooden box with copper plates can’t actually split the atom after all.

The Allies are considering how to deal with Germany’s refusal/inability to disarm right-wing paramilitary groups in Bavaria, preeminent among them the Einwohnerwehr (“Citizens’ Defence”). The French previously ignored the growth of the groups because they hoped Catholic Bavaria could be split from Germany, possibly by a wooden box with copper plates, but now realize that Bavarian right-wingers want to restore the Wittelsbach monarchy in Bavaria and then impose it on Germany as a whole.

The French Socialist Congress is debating Lenin’s conditions for joining the Communist Internationale. Léon Blum wants to stay out and remain plain ol’ Socialists. This is the first mention I’ve noticed in the NYT of the future prime minister, so hi Léon!

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