Friday, September 20, 2019

French Revolution (Summary)

The French Revolution was the most violent political and social upheaval that took place in Europe in the 18th Century, and one of the most important in history, exerting a lot of influence in future political events. This sudden and violent disruption of the old political order changed the foundations of French society and government. The French Revolution was the triumph of the bourgeoisie over the Nobility and Clergy. It really began when the Third Estate decided unilaterally to break away from the Estates General that had been convened by the king Louis XVI, defying the established political order. The second act of open rebellion against the King was the Tennis Court Oath, which took place on June 20, 1789, and in which the Third Estate members agreed not to separate until they had given France a Constitution. But the chain of violent events started with the Storming of the Bastille, on July 14, 1789.

The French Revolution did not only overthrow the absolute monarchy, but also put an end to the system of aristocratic, economic, and tax-exemption privileges which enjoyed both the Nobility and the Clergy, as the First Republic was established in September 1792 by the National Convention, led at the beginning by Georges Danton and later by Maximilien Robespierre. The Revolution ended in 1799, when Napoleon overthrew the Directory and established the Consulate.

Summary of the French Revolution

The economic situation in the winter of 1789 was catastrophic; unemployment and bad crops were aggravated by exceptionally extreme cold weather conditions, which caused the price of bread to rise three times. All these sapped the morale of the people, who were already overburdened by an unfair system of tax collection; taxes were only paid by the Third Estate (bourgeoisie, craftmen, and farmers).

The debt and the bad economic situation forced the King Louis XVI to call the Estates General, which had not met since 1614. It was composed of the First Estate, with 300 deputies representing the Clergy; the Second Estate, which also had 300 deputies that represented the Nobility; and the Third Estate, which had 600 deputies representing the bourgeoisie, the craftmen, and the peasants. After discussing reforms without results, the deputies of the Third Estate separated from the others on June 17, 1789, proclaiming the National Assembly. The King first opposed to it but circumstances forced him to accept it. And on July 9, 1789, with the agreement of Louis XVI, the deputies of the National Assembly formed the Constituent Assembly. For the time being, the monarchy continued to exist but not as an absolute monarchy, for the King's divine powers had been trimmed by the mundane lawyers and writers of the bourgeoisie, who in turn had been influenced by the Enlightenment philosophers, the American Constitution, and British parliamentary system.

Nevertheless, the King Louis XVI vowed to avenge this humiliation; on July 11, 1789, he called his troops back to Paris and dismissed his minister of finance Jacques Necker, who had adviced him to be moderate and who had published the account of the government's debts, making it available to the public. Then the Parisians lost all patience and the crowd gathered in the Place Royale and marched toward the prison-fortress of the Bastille, which was attacked and stormed by the armed crowd on July 14, 1789. The prisoners were freed and the governor, de Launay, was decapitated. Louis XVI, moved by the violence, took Necker back and accepted the tricolored cockade. In August, the Constituent Assembly passed the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizens. In October, 1789, the Parisian women, armed with knives, forks, and scythes, marched to the palace of Versailles, demanding for bread, as the royal couple, Louis and Marie Antoinette, were forced to move to Paris.

The next few years were dominated by tensions between various left-wing deputies, such as the Jacobins, and a conservative monarchy intent on thwarting major reforms. In june, 1791, Louis and Marie Antoinette attempted unsuccessfully to flee Paris for Varennes. In October 1791, the Legislative Assembly replaced the National Constituent Assembly, which governed France until September 1792, when, in the face of the advance of the allied armies of Austria, Holland, Prussia, and Sardinia, to crush the French Revolution, it was replaced by the National Convention, which proclaimed the Republic in September 1792. The King was brought to trial in December of 1792, and executed by guillotine on January 21, 1793. In January of 1793 the revolutionary government declared war on Britain.

After the execution of the King, the Committee of Public Safety was created in April 1793, along with the Revolutionary Tribunal. The left-wing Jacobins, led by Maximilien Robespierre, established a dictatorship, and, with the excuse of saving the Revolution from royalists and reactionaries, he and Saint-Just inaugurated the Reign of Terror, which was an extremely violent period that began in September 1793 and lasted until the fall of Robespierre on July 27, 1794. During the Reign of Terror, the ruling faction ruthlessly exterminated all potential enemies, of whatever sex, age, or condition. The National Convention was replaced in October of 1795 with the Directory, which was replaced in turn, in 1799, by the Consulate. Napoleon Bonaparte became Emperor in May of 1804.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Orígen y formación de las provincias argentinas

La mayoría de las provincias argentinas tienen sus orígenes, como Estados autónomos, en la figura del caudillo federal de la primera mitad del siglo XIX. Antes de la aprobación de la Constitución Nacional en 1853 y la creación de las instituciones nacionales, éstos ejercían un fuerte regionalismo y defensa de sus territorios y eran partidarios de un sistema federal. El caudillo a su vez surge a partir del rico y próspero hacendado que ejercía la hegemonía en la región donde se encontraba su hacienda, controlando las actividades económicas, sociales y morales. Antes de la organización nacional, éstos tenían de hecho la suma del poder público; es decir, su autoridad no tenía límite y su voluntad era ley en el territorio bajo su jurisdicción.

En cambio las provincias patagónicas surgirían mucho después de la organización nacional, a partir de los llamados territorios nacionales administrados por el gobierno nacional. Con la necesidad de una administración local para una administración y control más efectivos de los mismos, éstos territorios serían provincializados por leyes especiales aprobadas por el Senado de la nación. De esta forma emergerían las provincias de Río Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz y Tierra del Fuego.

Formación de las provincias del Noroeste argentino

Cuando se creó el Virreinato del Río de la Plata en 1776, los territorios del actual Noroeste argentino quedaron comprendidos en una gran región administrativa llamada jurídicamente "Intendencia de Salta del Tucumán", la cual estaba administrada por la figura de un gobernador español, cuyo asiento se encontraba en la ciudad de Salta. Con el primer gobierno patrio y la emancipación nacional de España, el sucesor del último gobernador español (Nicolás Severo de Isasmendi y Echalar) fue un rico hacendado y terrateniente salteño: Martín Miguel de Güemes, quien no solamente lucharía contra las fuerzas realistas en una guerra de guerrilla, sino que también intentaría por todos los medios ejercer su poder hegemónico en todo el territorio del Noroeste argentino que había sido la Intendencia de Salta del Tucumán.

Sin embargo, en la ciudad de San Miguel de Tucumán emergería la figura de otro rico hacendado, devenido caudillo: Don Bernabé Aráoz, quien sería nombrado en 1814 gobernador de Salta del Tucumán por el Director Supremo Gervasio Antonio de Posadas por ser la figura más influyente de la región y, sobre todo por haber contribuido a la victoria de los patriotas en la batalla de Tucumán en 1812.

Martín Miguel de Güemes, quien era el gobernador de facto de Salta, se opondría a tal nombramiento. Para sacar a Tucumán de la influencia hegemónica del caudillo salteño, Bernabé Aráoz dejó de enviar armas y munición a las fuerzas de Güemes que luchaban en el norte contra las avanzadas realistas y empezó a ejercer el poder en todo el territorio ubicado al sur de Salta y que comprendía las actuales provincias de Tucumán, Santiago y Catamarca, las cuales pasaron a ser designadas Intendencia de San Miguel de Tucumán. En 1820, cuando el país se encontraba en el caos de las luchas civiles entre unitarios y federales, Bernabé Aráoz creó la República del Tucumán, que no duraría mucho tiempo, ya que éste sería derrotado por su opositor: el caudillo unitario Javier López en 1823.

Mientras tanto, en 1821, emergería otro caudillo regional en Santiago del Estero: el Coronel Felipe Ibarra, quien se levantaría en armas contra Bernabé Aráoz, separando a esta provincia de Tucumán luego de la batalla del Ricón de Marlopa. Ibarra pudo derrotar a Aráoz gracias a la ayuda del general Abraham Gonzalez, que comandaba un ejército reforzados por unidades catamarqueñas y salteñas. Por su parte, ese mismo año Catamarca también declararía su autonomía de la mano de su caudillo Eusebio Gregorio Ruzo Acuña.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

250. Infanterie (Blue Division)


The Spanish Blue Division, or 250. Infanterie-Division in German, was an infantry unit of Spanish volunteers who fought in WW2, on the Eastern Front, against the Soviet forces. Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco had agreed to create this unit of volunteers to serve in the German Army on the condition they would only fight against Soviet Communism on the Eastern Front, and not against the Western Allies or any other Western European nations. Thus, he was able to keep Spain neutral while simultaneously repaying Hitler for his support during the Spanish Civil War. It was the Spanish foreign minister Ramon Serrano Suñer who proposed Franco to raise a volunteer corps. At the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, Franco sent an official offer to Berlin to let Spain secretly take part the military campaign in the East. Hitler approved Spanish volunteers on June 24, 1941.

Thousands of young men volunteered to wear the German Army uniform and fight against communism. At the beginning, the Spanish government had planned to send only 4,000 men, but it soon understood that there were more than enough volunteers that a whole division could be formed: 18,104 men in all, 2,612 officers and 15,492 soldiers. Fifty percent of officers and non-commissioned officers were professional soldiers, many of them veterans of the Spanish Civil War. Many others were members of the Spanish Fascist party. Others felt pressure to join because of past ties with the socialist republican government and simply wanted to redeem themselves and help their relatives in Franco's prisons.

General Agustin Muñoz Grandes was appointed commander of this Spanish division. Since the soldiers could not use official Spanish army uniforms, they adopted a symbolic uniform comprising the red berets of the Carlists, khaki trousers used in the Spanish Legion, and the blue shirts of the Falangists - hence the nickname Blue Division. This uniform was used only while on leave in Spain. In the field, the Spanish soldiers wore the German Army field gray uniform with a shield on the upper right sleeve bearing the word "España" and the Spanish national colors.

Once in Germany and having been gone through a harsh military training, the Spanish Blue Division was originally assigned to Army Group Center, the force advancing towards Moscow. On August 28, it was scheduled to travel through Grodno (Belarus), Lida (Belarus), Vilnius (Lithuania), Molodechno (Belarus), Minsk (Belarus), Orsha (Belarus) onto Smolensk and from there to the Moscow front. While marching towards the Smolensk front on September 26, the Spanish volunteers were reassigned to Army Group North, which was closing in on Leningrad, and became part of German 16th Army.

The 250. Infanterie-division was in charge of a 50 km section of the front north and south of Novgorod, along the banks of the Volkhov river and Lake Ilmen. According to the museum curator in the church Spasa Preobrazheniya on Ilyin Street, the division used the high cupola as a machine-gun nest. As a result, much of the building was seriously damaged, including many of the medieval icons by Feofan the Greek.

In August, 1942, the Blue Division was transferred North to the Southeastern flank of the Leningrad siege, just South of the Neva near Pushkin, Kolpino and Krasny Bor in the Izhora River area. The Blue Division remained on the Leningrad front where they suffered heavy casualties both due to cold and to enemy action at Myasnoi Bor following an encounter with the Soviet 305th Rifle Division during early February. Franco dispatched more reinforcements, which in time included conscripts in addition to volunteers. Through rotation, as many as 45,000 Spanish soldiers served on the Eastern Front. They were awarded both Spanish and German military awards, and were the only division to be awarded a medal of their own, commissioned by Hitler.

After the collapse of German front following the Battle of Stalingrad, the situation changed and more German troops were deployed southwards. By this time general Emilio Esteban Infantes had taken command. Eventually, the Allies and conservative Spanish Anglophiles began to pressure Franco to withdraw the troops from the Eastern Front quasi-alliance with Germany. Franco began negotiations in the spring of 1943 and gave an order of withdrawal on October 10.

But many Spanish soldiers refused to return. Some believe that Franco gave his unofficial blessing as long as their number was below 1,500. But in any event, the Spanish Government on November 3, 1943, ordered all troops to return to Spain. In the end the total of 'non returners' was closer to 3,500 (mostly Falangists). Many Spaniards also joined other German units, mainly the Waffen-SS, and fresh volunteers slipped across the Spanish border near Lourdes, occupied France. The new pro-German units were collectively called the Blue Legion (Legion Azul).

The Spaniards initially remained part of the 121st Infantry Division, but even this meagre force was ordered to return home in March 1944 and was transported back to Spain on March 21. The rest of the volunteers were absorbed into German units. Platoons of Spaniards served in the 3rd Gebirgs Division and the 357th Infantry Division. One unit was sent to Latvia. Two companies joined the Brandenburger Regiment and German 121st Division in Yugoslavia to fight against Tito\'s partisans.

The 101st company Spanische-Freiwilligen Kompanie der SS 101 of 140 men, made up of four rifle platoons and one staff platoon, was attached to 28th SS Volunteer Grenadier Division Wallonien and fought in Pomerania and Brandenburg province. Later, as part of 11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland and under command of Haupsturmführer der SS Miguel Ezquerra, it fought the last days of the war against Soviet troops in Berlin.

The number of casualties of the Blue Division and its sequels accounted for 4,954 dead, and 8,700 wounded. In addition, 372 members of the Blue Division, the Blue Legion or volunteers of the Spanische-Freiwilligen Kompanie der SS 101 were taken as prisoners by the Soviet forces. Of these, 286 were kept in captivity until 1954 when they returned to Spain in the ship Semiramis supplied by the International Red Cross April 2, 1954.

When one considers the Spanish Blue Division and its fighting qualities it is quite remarkable that a country that was a so-called neutral provided a considerable number of troops. An assessment of the Spanish Volunteers would cast them in a favorable light. The Spaniards put up a ferocious fight on the Russian front, and their fierce fighting abilities would place them among the most successful foreign legions who fought for the Third Reich. They proved themselves in battle continuously in one of the most brutal theaters of war in history, the Eastern Front.

Proyectos de formas de gobierno en Congreso de Tucumán

Una vez declarada la independencia nacional, surgió nuevamente el problema de la forma de gobierno para la nueva Constitución Nacional en el seno del Congreso de Tucumán. Como modelo de gobierno, había dos tendencias o grupos políticos: los que proponían una monarquía parlamentaria, y los que querían un sistema republicano, pero a su vez estaban los que proponían un sistema unitario y aquellos que se inclinaban por un sistema federal.

Manuel Belgrano se inclinaba por una monarquía parlamentaria, con un descendiente del Inca como soberano, pero con la figura de un primer ministro que represente el ejecutivo y un parlamento para las tareas legislativas. Esta forma de gobierno, que tenía como modelo a seguir al Reino Unido, era apoyada por Manuel de Acevedo, entre otros. Aunque este grupo era partidario de una forma unitaria, pretendían que la capital sea Cuzco, Perú, y no Buenos Aires.

Los republicanos, que en ese entonces eran minoría, se oponían a una monarquía como forma de gobierno, y querían en su reemplazo una república, es decir, la división del poder en tres ramas con un sistema de control mútuo: Ejecutivo, Legislativo y Judicial, donde la ley gobierna y no una persona. Tomaban como ejemplo la jóven República de los Estados Unidos de Norte América y la Primera República Francesa que surgió de la Revolución que destronó aguillotinó a Luis XVI de mano de los jacobinos. Cave aclarar que los republicanos estaban divididos a su vez en unitarios, defensores de un gobierno centralizado y que designe a dedos a los gobernadores de provincias, y los federales, que eran partidarios de las autonomías provinciales.

La lucha por la forma de gobierno se acentuaría a partir del año 1820, con la derrota del último Director Supremo José Rondeau en la batalla de Cepeda en manos de los caudillos (federales) y la consecuente caída del Directorio. A partir de ese año comenzaría una larga lucha civil entre unitarios y federales, que culminaría en 1852 en la batalla de Caseros, lo que posibilitaría la aprobación de la Constitución Nacional, con un sistem Representativo, Republicano y Federal.

El problema de la forma de gobierno en las Provincias del Rio de la Plata surge como consecuencia de la falta de experiencia de autogobierno. A diferencia con las trece colonias anglosajonas de América del Norte, donde cada una de ellas tenían experiencia en autogobernarse con leyes locales propias aprobadas por un parlamento local, donde los colonos podían votar a sus representantes, en todos los virreinatos de la América Hispana se regían por las Leyes de Indias y otras reglamentaciones aprobadas y firmadas por los monarcas españoles a través de reales cédulas en Madrid. Es decir, todo el sistema jurídico fue impuesto por un monarca absoluto de una nación donde no había división de poder en absoluto, ni siquiera un parlamento que limite las atribuciones reales.


Lea: Pactos Federales

Monday, September 16, 2019

Reign of Terror (Summary)

The Reign of Terror was the period of the French Revolution in which a huge number of people were executed by guillotine, from September 5, 1793, to July 27, 1794. Approximately 25,000 people were arrested and beheaded accused of treason and other charges. The Reign of Terror was led by Maximilien Robespierre, who was in charge of the Committee of Public Safety, and Louis Antoine de Saint-Just. The rationale behind the massive executions of French citizens was to protect the Revolution from traitorous reactionaries and royalists who plotted together with foreign forces against the new Republic. During this period, revolutionary France was beset with both real and imagined conspiracies by internal and foreign enemies.

The guillotine became the symbol of a string of executions: Louis XVI had already been guillotined before the start of the terror; Marie-Antoinette, the Girondists Philippe Egalité, Madame Roland, the scientist Antoine Lavoisier, and many others lost their lives under its blade. The Revolutionary Tribunal summarily condemned thousands of people to death by the guillotine, while mobs beat other victims to death. Sometimes people died for their political opinions or actions, but many for little reason beyond mere suspicion.

Chronological Summary of the Reign of Terror

The National Convention created the Committee of Public Safety which would hold de facto executive power in France. On June 10, 1793, after the Girondins had been arrested, the Jacobins gained control of the Committee of Public Safety, establishing a revolutionary dictatorship. On July 27, 1793, the Jacobin Maximilien Robespierre, who was known as "the Incorruptible" for his ascetic dedication to his ideals, became member of the Committee as it moved to take radical measures against the Revolution's domestic and foreign enemies.

On September 17, 1793, the Committee of Public Safety passed the Law of Suspects, which authorized the charging of counter-revolutionaries with vaguely defined crimes against liberty. On September 29, 1793, their members passed the Law of Maximum, which set price limits, detering price gouging, and allowing for the continued flow of food supply to the people of France. Initially aimed at the ultra-revolutionary Hébertist faction, journalist Camille Desmoulins began publishing Le Vieux Cordelier on December, 1793. Desmoulins quickly turned his pen against the Committee of Public Safety and the Committee of General Security, comparing their reign to that of the Roman tyrants.

On 30 March, 1794, Danton, Desmoulins and others of the indulgent party were suddenly arrested. Danton was at once condemned, and led, in company with fourteen others, including Camille Desmoulins, to the guillotine. The fanatic Jacques Hébert, who had introduced the worship of a goddess of Reason, was also arrested and executed in March, 1794, along with other so-called ultrarevolutionaries. To counter Hebertist influence, Robespierre proclaimed (June, 1794) the cult of the Supreme Being.

Although France's military successes lessened the need for strong domestic measures, Robespierre called for new purges. Fearing that the Terror would be turned against them, members of the Convention arrested Robespierre and Saint-Just on July 27, 1794, and had him guillotined the following day; a majority of Commune members were also executed.

Legislative Assembly (French Revolution)

Formed in October 1791, the Legislative Assembly was the body of people vested with the power to make laws during the French Revolution. It consisted of 745 members, generally young citizens from the French middle class. Since none had sat in the National Assembly, they largely lacked national political experience. The Legislative Assembly first met on October 1, 1791, and dissolved in September 1792, to be replaced by the National Convention. Legislative Assembly did not last a year and was generally deemed a failure, leaving behind an empty treasury, an undisciplined army and navy, and enormous domestic turmoil.

The right wing within the Assembly was composed of 165 moderate monarchists, who inclined in favor of a parliamentary monarchy; the Left, which was dominant during this period, comprised 330 Jacobins, which included the Girondins. The Left as a whole was openly anti-clerical anti-monarchical, openly favoring a republic. This political tendency were supported by the less privileged classes in Paris and throughout France.

The remainder of the French Legislative Assembly, about 250 deputies, generally belonged to no definite party. In the early days of the Legislative Assembly, the king vetoed many of their radical measures, such as legislation against run-away or self-exiled royalists, passed November 9, 1791. This led to the suspension of the Louis XVI by the Jacobins, voting that a convention should be summoned to give France a new constitution.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Schwerer Gustav (artillery piece)

The Schwerer Gustav was a German 800mm gun used by the Wehrmacht during World War II on the Eastern Front. It was designed and developed by the German firm Krupp, which produced only two 800mm-caliber siege guns, the second one being called Dora. Mounted on railways tracks, the Schwerer Gustav weighed 1,350 metric tons, had a 32.5-m-(106ft 8in)-long barrel, and had a maximum range of 47 km (30mi). It took more than two weeks and a work force of 1,200 men to assemble any of these two 800mm guns.

In February 1942, the Schwerer Gustav gun entered service with the Wehrmacht 672th Heavy Artillery Unit, having its baptism of fire in June 1942 during the Siege of Sevastopol, a port on Crimea on the Black Sea coast, firing a total of thirty nine 7,500-kg shells. By July 4, 1942, Gustav and other German heavy artillery pieces, such as the 600mm mortars (Thor and Odin), had destroyed all the Soviet concrete forts, leaving the city of Sevastopol in ruins.

After this German victory on the Crimea, the Schwerer Gustav would be stripped down to its constituent parts and transported by railways to the north, to a place 30 km away from Leningrad, where it would be assembled to begin the siege of that Soviet city. By mid September 1942, Gustav was ready to fire again, but the attack was called off. After the winter of 1942-1943, the gun was disassembled and transported back to Germany.

Specifications

Type: heavy siege gun
Country of origin: Germany
Manufacturer: Krupp
Caliber: 800mm (80 cm)
Barrel length: 32.5m
Weight: 1,350 tonnes
Shell: 7,500-kg anti-bunker, armor-piercing shell
Rate of fire: two rounds per hour
Muzzle velocity: 820 m/s
Maximum range: 47 km




Thor Mortar and Schwerer Gustav Gun in Action (Video)