Monthly Archives: December 2013

December 11th – UNICEF is created

Flag of UNICEF

Flag of UNICEF

On this day (December 11) in 1946, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF for short, was created. UNICEF’s original mandate was to provide food and healthcare to children in countries that had been destroyed in the violence of the Second World War. Today, UNICEF has staff and workers in over 190 countries and territories across the globe, and provides humanitarian assistance to children and their mothers in developing countries.

Many North American children may be familiar with “Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF”. The idea of this program started in Philadelphia in 1950, where children would collect loose change in small orange boxes on Halloween night, rather than soliciting for candy amongst neighbours. Upon UNICEF receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965, American president Lyndon B. Johnson stated: “Your UNICEF Trick or Treat Day has helped turn a holiday too often marred by youthful vandalism into a program of basic training in world citizenship.” While the policy of collection of monies in small orange boxes has stopped out of safety and administrative concerns, “Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF” continues to this day. Children from the United States, Canada, Ireland, Mexico and Hong Kong participate in this program, which has raised over US $188 million worldwide.

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December 10th – The Nobel Prize is awarded for the first time

The medal awarded as part of the Nobel Prize. Nobel laureates also receive a diploma recognizing their achievement along with a monetary prize.

The medal awarded as part of the Nobel Prize. Nobel laureates also receive a diploma recognizing their achievement, along with a monetary prize.

On this day in 1901, the Nobel Prize was awarded for the first time in Stockholm, Sweden. Since its inception over 100 years ago, a total of 835 individuals and 21 organizations have been awarded with the Nobel Prize.

The Nobel Prize takes its name from Alfred Nobel, a prominent Swedish engineer and inventor. Besides the award that contains his name, Nobel is known as the inventor of dynamite, one of the greatest paradoxes in history. Upon his death in 1896, Nobel’s last will specified that his wealth be used to fund a series of prizes for those who contribute the “greatest benefit on mankind” in the fields of physics, chemistry, peace, physiology or medicine, and literature. Almost $190 million (current day monetary value) was used to establish these Nobel Prizes.

On December 10th, 1901, five years to the day after Alfred Nobel passed away, the first Nobel Prizes were handed out. Amongst the inaugural class of Nobel laureates were Wilhelm Röntgen (Physics) for his discovery of X-rays and Henry Dunant (Peace) for founding the International Red Cross. Here are some other fun facts:

  • The Nobel Prize for Economics was not one of the original five prizes, and was only awarded after 1969.
  • Only two individuals have multiple Nobel Prizes in different fields. These individuals are Marie Curie for Physics (1903, for her work in radiation phenomenon) and Chemistry (1911, for her discovery of the elements radium and polonium) and Linus Pauling for Chemistry (1954, for his work on the nature of the chemical bond, more specifically orbital hybridization) and Peace (1962, for his work in campaigning against nuclear weapons testing).

A total of 23* Canadians have won a Nobel Prize. The asterisk indicates that some of these individuals were not born in Canada nor were Canadian citizens, but performed much of the work the Nobel Prize recognized while in Canada. Here are five notable Canadian individuals who have won:

  1. Ernest Rutherford for Chemistry (1908). You may know him as the scientist behind Bohr-Rutherford diagrams from high school chemistry class. Rutherford’s work on the half-life of radioactive substances while at McGill University in Montreal was the basis of his Nobel Prize (Rutherford was, in fact, a Kiwi, having been born in New Zealand).
  2. Frederick Banting for Physiology/Medicine (1923). Banting was rewarded the Nobel Prize for his work in (co)discovering insulin while a the University of Toronto. Prior to his arrival at Toronto, Banting was a faculty member at the University of Western Ontario, teaching orthopedics and anthropology.
  3. Lester B. Pearson for Peace (1957). The future prime minister of Canada won his Nobel Prize for his role in defusing the Suez Crisis through his work at the United Nations.
  4. John Polanyi for Chemistry (1986). This Hungarian-born scientist won his Nobel Prize for work on chemical kinetics. Today, Polanyi still teaches chemistry at the University of Toronto.
  5. Alice Munro for Literature (2013). This year’s Nobel laureate in literature received her prize for her work on the short story. Munro is a fellow alumnus of the University of Western Ontario (Go Mustangs!), having studied English and journalism during her time here as an undergraduate student.

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December 9th – “A Charlie Brown Christmas” airs for the first time

The Peanuts gang all together for A Charlie Brown Christmas

The Peanuts gang all together for A Charlie Brown Christmas

On this day in 1965, the holiday classic A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired on television on CBS. Since 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas has aired during every Christmas season, 48 years running.

The production of A Charlie Brown Christmas was done with a limited budget, resulting in (apparently) a choppy animation style and poorly mixed sound. In one scene where Schroeder stops playing the piano, all the children continue dancing awkwardly for a couple of seconds. Bill Melendez, the producer of A Charlie Brown Christmas, wished to correct this issue, however this idea was vetoed by Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts. The voice overs for the characters were performed by children who had little experience with voice work. In fact, the child that voiced Sally was so young that she was cued “line by line” throughout recording!

Despite these faults with this TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas came to be a critical and commercial success. Almost 50% of televisions in the United States were tuned to the first broadcast of A Charlie Brown Christmas on December 9th, 1965. A Charlie Brown Christmas would go on to win an Emmy Award and a Peabody Award. The success of A Charlie Brown Christmas would spawn further holiday-themed Peanuts TV specials, including: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966), A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973), I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (2003), and many more.


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December 8th – John Lennon is killed by Mark Chapman

Hi guys,

I have not been able to blog as much recently as I have been busy with some exams. I have to play a bit of catch up to reach today’s date. The blog posts will be a bit shorter than usual to allow me to make up for time.

The Dakota, the apartment that John Lennon lived at, the location of his murder.

The Dakota, the apartment that John Lennon lived at, the location of his murder.

On this day in 1980, John Lennon was shot and killed outside of his apartment in New York City by crazed fan, Mark Chapman. Earlier in the day, Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, had been doing a photo shoot for Rolling Stone magazine, and later on in the day, proceeded to take a limo over to the recording studio to mix the song “Walking on Thin Ice”. While walking to the limo, Lennon and Ono were greeted by fans outside their apartment asking for autographs, including Mark Chapman. Unbeknownst to Lennon, hours later, Mark Chapman would be waiting for Lennon to return.

While walking back to his apartment from the recording studio at around 10:50 pm, Lennon was near the entrance to his apartment when he recognized the same fan from earlier in the day was still there. Shortly afterwards, Chapman shot Lennon five times, with the first bullet missing Lennon entirely, and the other four hitting Lennon’s left shoulder and the left side of his back. John Lennon was dead upon arrival to Roosevelt Hospital.

Mark Chapman gave no resistance to his arrest outside of Lennon’s apartment, appearing cognizant of what he had just done. Later on, Chapman admitted that he had became angered of Lennon’s “more popular than Jesus” remark and incensed over the song “Imagine”, as he believed Lennon’s wealth was hypocritical to the song’s lyric: ‘Imagine no possessions.” Against the advice of his lawyers who wanted to file an insanity plea, Chapman pleaded guilty to Lennon’s murder. Chapman received a life sentence, however was eligible for parole after serving two years. Since being eligible for parole since 2000, Chapman has been refused parole at hearings and remains imprisoned in a state correctional facility in upstate New York.

Here is the official video to John Lennon’s “Imagine”:

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December 7th – Japanese forces attack Pearl Harbor

The U.S.S. Arizona exploding from bombs dropped by Japanese aerial forces

The U.S.S. Arizona exploding from bombs dropped by Japanese aerial forces

On this day in 1941, naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan attacked the American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. December 7th, 1941 was, according to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a ‘date which will live in infamy’. The preemptive surprise attack at Pearl Harbor was undertaken by the Japanese forces with the hopes of neutralizing the American capacity to repel Japanese conquests in Southeast Asia. With 350 planes taking off from 6 aircraft carriers, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor sunk or damaged 4 battleships, 3 cruisers, 3 destroyers with approximately 2400 Americans killed and approximately 1300 injured. The attack on Pearl Harbor was simultaneous with Japanese attacks on the American held Philippines and British held Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaya.

Most people know the story behind the attack on Pearl Harbor (as popularized through the feature films Pearl Harbor and Tora, Tora, Tora!), so I will not elaborate any further. What many people do not know however is that the aerial attack on Pearl Harbor was not the first action on that day. Five Japanese submarines accompanied the Japanese task force being sent to attack Pearl Harbor. Upon coming within 20 kilometres of Pearl Harbor, the submarines launched midget submarines (smaller submarines meant to be piloted by a handful of sailors) to attack around 1:00 am. On 3:42 am, a Japanese midget submarine was sighted by the minesweeper Condor, and its location radioed in to the destroyer Ward. Shortly afterwards the Ward sank the Japanese midget submarine, marking the first shots fired by American forces in the Second World War. The sinking of this midget submarine occurred almost 4 hours before the first airplanes attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. While the aerial bombardment on Pearl Harbor is often cited as the start of American involvement and entry into the Second World War, it is interesting to note that the Americans had engaged in combat with the Japanese earlier on that day.

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December 6th – The Halifax Explosion

Headline from the Halifax Herald on the day after the Explosion

Headline from the Halifax Herald on the day after the Explosion

On this day in 1917, an explosion occurred off Halifax, Nova Scotia when the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship filled with munitions, collided with the Norwegian ship SS Imo. The explosion generated by the two ships’ collision was the largest man-made explosion prior to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945, equal to almost 3 kilotons of TNT exploding.

Halifax was an important port for the British Empire and contributed greatly to the Allied war effort during the First World War. From Halifax, Canadian soldiers and war supplies (including munitions) were shipped from Canada to the European battlefields. One ship in particular, the SS Mont-Blanc, happened to be laden with explosive cargo in Halifax Harbour on December 6th, 1917, enroute to Bordeaux, France. Another ship in the Harbour on that day, the SS Imo, was enroute to New York City to pick up food to be brought across the Atlantic for the Belgian people. Mixed messages (literally) between the two ships in the Harbour resulted in the Imo colliding with the Mont-Blanc, sparking an ignition of the explosive compounds onboard the Mont-Blanc.

The collision between the two ships did not immediately cause an explosion, however generated enough commotion to get the attention of Haligonians (denonym of those who are from Halifax). Many stood in the streets of Halifax looking upon the collision in the Harbour, or peered through the windows of their homes and businesses for a view. Once the Mont-Blanc exploded, fragments of the ship came raining down on the city. The gun from the Mont-Blanc was claimed to have been found 3 km away from the epicentre of the explosion. The blast was so powerful that the explosion in Halifax Harbour was heard from 300 kilometres away. The blast produced a massive cushion of air that blasted through the city, destroying/damaging city property. For those that were not dead from the initial explosion, eye injuries were common, as the air cushion shattered the glass from windows through which Haligonians viewed the two ships collide. In the end, approximately 2000 people were killed in the Halifax Explosion, and approximately 9000 left injured.

Emergency response to the explosion and its aftermath was hampered by a blizzard that was moving through Nova Scotia. Help however did come, from both near and far. Across Nova Scotia and from other provinces, firemen and medical staff hurried to Halifax to assist in the relief of the city. One notable international contribution to the city’s relief was from the Boston Red Cross and the Massachusetts Public Safety Committee. In commemoration of the assistance rendered by the city of Boston to Halifax, in 1918, Halifax sent a Christmas tree to Boston in gratitude. Starting in 1971 and continuing to this day, a Christmas tree is gifted by the Nova Scotian government to Boston every year, just as in 1918, during the holiday season. This tree is Boston’s official Christmas tree and is lit up in Boston Common outside the State Capitol.

Canada’s ‘Heritage Minute’ infomercials (for those who grew up during the 90s in Canada, you know what I am talking about) featured the story of Vince Coleman, a train dispatcher in Halifax on that fateful day. Coleman learned that the Mont-Blanc was carrying explosive cargo in its hold and aware it could explode at any minute after the ships collided. Vince Coleman stayed at his post to warn an incoming train from Saint John, New Brunswick via Morse code of the impending explosion in Halifax Harbour and to stop the train immediately. Many variations of the message transmitted to the train have been reported, but they all typically appear similar to the following:

“Hold up the train. Ammunition ship afire in harbor making for Pier 6 and will explode. Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye boys.”

Coleman’s message saved this inbound train from proceeding further to Halifax, as well as warning all other inbound trains to Halifax. Hundreds of lives were saved by Coleman’s warning to the trains. Sadly, Vince Coleman perished in Halifax. Here is a link to the Canadian ‘Heritage Minute’ for the Halifax Explosion:

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December 5th – President Polk confirms discovery of gold in California, begins the Californian gold rush

A typical '49er, panning for gold in California

A typical ’49er, panning for gold in California

On this day in 1848, Polk confirmed the discovery of gold in California through his State of the Union address. In doing so, Polk officially kicked off the Californian gold rush.

Through the Mexican-American War, the United States acquired California earlier on in 1848. In January of that year, James W. Marshall found flecks of gold lying in a river bed at Sutter’s Mill (about 60 kilometres northeast of Sacramento). While Marshall intended to keep this discovery a secret, rumours soon spread across America and overseas. Many initially believed that the rumours emanating from California were hoaxes and falsehoods. In his State of the Union address on December 5th, 1848 however, (then referred to as the ‘Annual Message to Congress’ and delivered in written form, not as a verbal speech before Congress as it is today), President Polk proclaimed:

“It was known that mines of the precious metals existed to a considerable extent in California at the time of its acquisition [1848]. Recent discoveries render it probable that these mines are more extensive and valuable than was anticipated. The accounts of the abundance of gold in that territory are of such an extraordinary character as would scarcely command belief were they not corroborated by the authentic reports of officers in the public service who have visited the mineral district and derived the facts which they detail from personal observation.”

Now that the American government had now officially confirmed the presence of tremendous amounts of gold in California, the rush started. From 1848 to 1855, 300000 gold speculators (known today as the ’49ers, after the year they begin arriving) would find themselves in California, originating from elsewhere in America and all over the world. Early on, huge nuggets of gold could be found on the ground. As more and more gold became collected however, people began panning for gold in the water, hoping for that one big lode that would make them rich. While some speculators became extremely rich from gold found in California, for the majority of the ’49ers, they left California with little more than what they came with.

The gold rush would have tremendous consequences for both California and America. From the massive population influx into California, San Francisco transformed a sleepy town on the Bay with a population of 200 in 1846 to a bustling boomtown of 36000 by 1852. The tremendous population growth and natural wealth in the area also resulted in California becoming the 31st state in the Union in 1850. It is not surprising then that California’s nickname remains ‘the Golden State’, alluding to the influence of the gold rush in shaping the history of the state. The gold rush caught the eye of Americans towards the western frontier, and consequently, contributed greatly to the westward movement of Americans, not only to California, but throughout the American West. It was Polk’s confirmation of gold in California that kickstarted the gold rush, and in doing so forever shaped Californian and American history.


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December 4th – The final session of the Council of Trent is held

Council of Trent (1588) by Pasquale Cati

Council of Trent (1588) by Pasquale Cati

On this day in 1563, the twenty-fifth and final session of the Council of Trent was held. An eighteen year process held in the northern Italian city of Trent (in italiano, Trento), this Council was a re-examination of the Catholic Church and what it stood for in light of the Protestant Reformation.

For decades, the Catholic Church had been facing internal turmoil over its state of affairs. In 1517, Martin Luther famously posted his 95 Theses on a church door in Wittenburg, Germany. Within these 95 Theses, Luther outlined problems he saw in the Catholic Church and its practices, in particular, the sale of indulgences. Through indulgences, people were able to pay monetarily to the Church in order to have sins forgiven. The money earned from indulgences were highly profitable for the Church, and in fact funded the reconstruction of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. In later speeches to congregations, Luther would go out and speak against the corruption of church offices (certain positions such as bishop and even Pope were up for sale), the veneration of relics (a body part of a saint or important religious artifact), and the importance of the Pope as head of the Church. Dissatisfied with the Catholic Church, Luther and his followers broke from the Church, and in doing so, started the Protestant Reformation.

Before continuing further, and I know fellow historians would agree, Martin Luther was not the sole originator of the Protestant Reformation. Many individuals came before Luther in denouncing/criticizing certain practices of the Church including, but not limited to, Ulrich Zwingli, Jan Hus and John Wycliffe. I only begin with Luther for ease of this blog post. I am sure that in future posts I will discuss the Protestant Reformation further and Martin Luther as well (interestingly, Martin Luther was voted as the #2 greatest German on the German television show Unsere Besten, similar to CBC’s The Greatest Canadian).

Fearful of the traction the Protestant Reformation gained throughout Europe, the Catholic Church decided to convene the Council of Trent in 1545. This Council has historically been seen as the affirmation of the Counter-Reformation, that is, the Catholic “rebuttal” to the Protestant Reformation that was going on. At Trent, cardinals sought to address the theological and dogmatic issues brought up by the Protestants in regards to the Catholic Church, and re-evaluate/re-assess what the Catholic Church stood for. The Council of Trent was broken up into three periods and twenty-five different sessions, formulating proclamations on Church policy. Amongst other formulations, at Trent the Catholic Church: condemned Protestantism, deplored the sale of indulgences and church offices, and supported the primacy of the Church and Pope as interpreter of Scripture. On December 4th, 1563, 450 years ago, the final session of the Council of Trent was held, and decrees concerning relics and indulgences were made.

While the Council of Trent solidified the Catholic position in the face of Protestant opposition, tensions in Europe concerning Catholicism vs. Protestantism would linger. Religious wars would pit Catholic nations versus Protestant nations for decades after the conclusion of the Council of Trent until the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) was signed, where cuius regio, eius religio was established. Translated from the Latin as “Whose realm, his religion”, this policy dictated that the ruler of the country would decide the religion that his subjects would follow.

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December 3rd – World’s worst industrial disaster occurs in Bhopal, India

Memorial in Bhopal commemorating the victims from the gas leak

Memorial in Bhopal commemorating the victims from the gas leak

On this day in 1984, a gas leak started at a pesticide plant, known today as the Bhopal Disaster. Located in the town of Bhopal in central India, the gas leak at this pesticide plant is considered the world’s worst industrial disaster, with almost 4000 deaths (16000 claimed) and almost 560000 injured.

Bhopal was home to a pesticide plant owned by the American company Union Carbide. As part of the pesticide manufacturing process, methyl isocyanate (MIC for short) was kept on site (42 tonnes worth, far beyond a controllable amount). While normal safety precautions would have helped ensure that the MIC was secure and protected from leakage, there were several problems with the plant. In an inspection of the plant prior to the disaster, thirty individual problems were found at Bhopal, including: filling the MIC in tanks far beyond recommended levels, the shut down of a refrigeration system that would prevent overheating, no night shift supervisors, and lack of gas scrubbers. This information was reported back to the company’s headquarters in America, however it was not communicated back to the plant managers in Bhopal. As well, technical manuals in the plant were written in English, completely incomprehensible to the staff at the plant. Despite these glaring concerns, nothing was done to rectify this impending disaster.

On the night of December 2nd and December 3rd, 1984, water entered the tank in which MIC was stored, resulting in an exothermic (giving off immense heat and energy) reaction that increased the pressure of the tank. This increase in pressure caused the release of 30 metric tons of MIC into the Bhopal’s atmosphere within one hour. Had the faulty safety mechanisms that were reported earlier been fixed, the release of MIC into Bhopal’s atmosphere could have probably been prevented. The effects of the gas on Bhopal’s citizens were immediate. Acute symptoms of MIC inhalation include tearing, a ‘burning throat’ sensation, coughing, vomiting, and irritation of the eyes. In the autopsies of victims who passed away from the gas exposure, fluid build up in the brain, failure of the kidneys and liver were documented. In total, approximately 500000 people were exposed to MIC from the plant. 200000 of the victims were below the age of 15, and 3000 were pregnant women. The stillbirth rate in Bhopal increased by 300%, and the newborn mortality rate increasing by 200%. In total, almost 16000 people died within the first two weeks of the exposure from MIC related injuries. Over 150000 people today are still dealing with the effects of this exposure almost 30 years ago, and the drinking water and soil of Bhopal remains toxic to this day.

Union Carbide has, to this day, denied negligence on its part concerning the disaster at Bhopal. Union Carbide has stated that the plant was subject to sabotage, claiming it was impossible for water to enter the tank under normal circumstances. Regardless, repair of the deficient safety procedures that were made aware to Union Carbide could have minimized the outcome of the situation, making this a mute point. Currently, there is a fight to try the CEO of Union Carbide at the time, Warren Anderson, in an Indian court to answer for the disaster, however America has refused to extradite Anderson to India.

Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain (2013) is a historical drama feature film on this disaster ( Starring Martin Sheen, Mischa Barton and Kal Penn, the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, and will be screened in North America in early 2014. Here is a trailer to the film:–w.

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December 2nd – Puyi, the last Emperor of China, ascends the throne

Poster for the biopic The Last Emperor (1987), a movie chronicling the life of Puyi

Poster for the biopic The Last Emperor (1987), a movie chronicling the life of Puyi, China’s final ruling monarch

On this day in 1908, China’s last Emperor, Puyi, ascended the throne. Only two years old when he became the Emperor of China, Puyi’s reign from 1908 to 1912 marked the end of imperial China, which lasted for over 2000 years.

Given the age of Puyi upon his ascension to the throne, Puyi’s father, Prince Chun, ruled over China as regent. A regent is one who “caretakes” for a government in place of an individual who is not capable of doing so at the time. This regency was to be short lived however. As an emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Puyi was Manchu in origin, not Han Chinese as the majority of his subjects were. This racial difference between the ruling Manchu class and the subject Han Chinese people was a source of tremendous tension in the Empire, as the Chinese resented being ruled by foreigners. As well, the Chinese Empire had been humiliated by the Western powers and Japan throughout the past century, particularly in the Boxer Rebellion of 1899-1901. The monetary reparations and territorial concessions made to these foreign powers highlighted the weakness of the Qing Dynasty and the failure of the Chinese Empire to adopt Westernizing reforms aggravated the situation.

In 1911, the Xinhai Revolution broke out in China, resulting in the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty, and in its place, the establishment of the Republic of China. Despite the formation of the Republic, for a little more than a decade, Puyi was granted the right to retain his imperial title, reside in the Forbidden City and receive a stipend from the government. This all ended in 1924, when, following a failed coup and restoration of the Emperor, Puyi was banished from the Forbidden City and became a regular citizen of China. No one was to ever live in the Forbidden City again, which had served as the imperial residence of Chinese emperors for almost 500 years.

Following the Japanese invasion of Manchuria (the northeastern part of modern China) in 1931, Puyi was installed as the emperor of a new Japanese puppet state, Manchukuo. During his time as a private citizen, Puyi harboured many pro-Japanese feelings, feeling resentment towards the Chinese republic for the end of the Qing Dynasty and prejudice towards the Manchu. While recognized as the ruler of Manchukuo, Puyi exercised little authority, with most decisions concerning Manchukuo and its military and economy made by the Japanese in Tokyo. Few states in the world recognized the independence of Puyi’s country, mostly Japan and her allies (e.g. Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy). While Puyi did certainly come back to the throne, he was but an emperor-in-name only.

In 1945 with the defeat of Japan in the Second World War, Puyi was caught by the Soviets trying to flee to Japan. He was then repatriated to the Communist Chinese government, where he was sent to a re-education camp to commit to the communist ideology. Puyi would live the remainder of his life in Beijing as a citizen of the People’s Republic. Miraculously, Puyi went largely unscathed by the Cultural Revolution that passed through China, which did denounce all aspects of the country’s imperial pass. Puyi passed away in 1967, shortly after the Cultural Revolution ended. After negotiations between his family and the government, was buried near the Western Qing Tombs – the site where previous Qing Emperors that came before him were buried.

Puyi’s life has become popularized in the 1987 biopic, The Last Emperor (, winner of nine Academy Awards that year (including Best Picture and Best Director). Almost three hours long, The Last Emperor chronicles Puyi’s life starting with his ascent to the imperial throne, his time under Japanese manipulation, and ending with his life in Communist China. Interestingly, this movie was the first Western feature film made in China with the Chinese government’s full cooperation since 1949 (when China turned Red). It was also the first feature film permitted by the Chinese government to film in the Forbidden Palace, which was made an UNESCO World Heritage Site on the same year that the The Last Emperor premiered.

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