Saturday, February 7, 2015

FEBRUARY 7 = "The Beatles", Baltimore -1904 & Mengele Dies

On today's date of February 7 in:
1964 =

The British Rock and Roll group "The Beatles" landed at Kennedy Airport in New York City at 1:20 p.m. and instantly recaptured the city for the first time since the Brits pulled out in 1783.  Ringo Starr was concerned that the Yanks wouldn't like them so much: "They've got everything over there, will they want us too?" Well he needn't have been worried.  The Ed Sullivan Show which had 728 seats available had requests for over 50,000 such seats. On the cold and clear day when the Fab Four arrived in NYC, some 5,000 fans were waiting for them at Kennedy, waving home-made placards saying "We love you Beatles!!" An official for the airport remarked: "We've never seen anything like this before, ever. Never.  Not even for Kings and Queens." 

The group had just released "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" six days before, so the reception they got as they stepped of their Yankee Clipper Flight 101 from London was predictably wild, According to Barry Miles: "The scene at the Plaza, New York's grandest hotel (left) was chaotic, with hundreds of fans being held at bay by police barricades and twenty mounted police.  They kept up a constant mantra- like chant: 'We love you Beatles, oh yes we dooo! We love you Beatles and we'll be true!!' interspersed with shouts of 'We want the Beatles!'" This was followed by their performance on "the Ed Sullivan Show" two days later before an estimated TV audience of over 73 million viewers.  And THAT was so crazy that it has to be seen to be believed (just click on the preceding sentence).

In 1904 =

In Baltimore, Maryland, a small fire in the business district was blown by the wind into a massive blaze which swallowed up a large chunk of that city before it finally died the next day. The fire which may have started with a discarded cigarette in the vast dry-goods warehouse of John E. Hurst & Co. Building was quickly blown by high winds into a conflagration which wound through the narrow streets of Baltimore. The flames fed mostly on old wooden structures which went up quickly.

As would happen in the blaze that overtook San Francisco in 1908, the Fire Department lost the services of their Chief when he was knocked unconscious by a falling wall early in the fire. As a result most of the fire fighting was ill-directed and counter-productive.  It was only when the winds died down on the eighth that it finally drew to a close.  The fire had lasted 31 hours, and had eaten up an 80-block chunk of the downtown in Baltimore; over 140 acres of the business district.  Almost 2500 buildings had been damaged, with about 1500 of that number being total losses. Between 85 and 100 million dollars in damage was done, but unbelievably, no homes were lost, and there was only one fatality.

In 1979 =

"I am convinced that he was longing to return to Germany,  That was clear towards the end; on the last day he made it clear.  I don't know whether he knew death was coming, but he was on a large rock by the sea, and said 'Over there is my country... I would like to spend the last days of my life in my native town of Gunzburg...' "

These were apparently the final thoughts of one Josef Mengele (left) on the last day of his life, Feb. 7, 1979 as told to his friend Wolfram Bossert. Mengele was the sinister doctor who earned the title "the Angel of Death" for his inhumane experiments on inmates at Auschwitz Concentration Camp during World War II.  Mengele would supervise the selection of who would live and who would die by walking among them as they arrived. Wearing distinctive white doctor's gloves, and yelling "Left!" or " Right" he would direct them either to murderously hard labor , or immediate extermination. Further, he was in charge of a program of hideous "medical experiments" on the captive inmates. Mengele would inject them with all sorts of deadly chemicals such as chloroform or petrol to study the effect that this would have on them. Particularly gruesome were his "experiments" on genetic twins, including sex  change operations, attempts at changing eye colors, removal of bones and organs, incestuous impregnations, and injections with various germs.

Mengele survived World War II and managed to escape Germany with
the help of fellow ex-Nazis and wound up in Brazil.  He never had a peaceful moment though, as he was always looking over his shoulder for Israeli agents looking to capture him as had happened to Adolf Eichmann.  Sadly for the cause of justice, Mengele cheated the hangman by having a stroke while swimming in the ocean at the town of Bertioga, Brazil on today's date in 1979.  But as he was living under the alias of Dr. Wolfgang Gerhard, his death was not discovered and confirmed with dental records until 1985.

Sources =

"The Beatles Diary" by Barry Miles, Omnibus Press, New York, 2001

"Darkest Hours" by Jay Robert Nash, Wallaby Books, New York, 1977

"Mengele - the Complete Story" by Gerald Posner and John Ware, Mc Graw Hill Book Company, New York, 1986.

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