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“Przekrój” Magazine brings English-speaking readers some of the best journalism from across Central and Eastern Europe, in the fields of wellbeing, art, literature, science, ecology, philosophy, psychology, and more. Take a break from the speed and intensity of the daily news and join us!

Our eternally pessimistic correspondent gives his historical highlights for the month of September.
2023-09-07 00:00:00

September in History
Diary of an Eternal Pessimist

September in History
September in History

September in history according to an eternal pessimist.

Read in 7 minutes

1st September 1752

The Liberty Bell was brought to Philadelphia. The bell, supposed to become the symbol of the United States’ independence, cracked when rung very early on after its installation, and it had to be repaired. Perhaps it was a bad omen?

2nd September 1980

The Warsaw Old Town was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Pity it’s just a replica…

3rd September 1945

The last German military unit surrendered on the north-eastern territory of the Svalbard Archipelago. And yet in some circles, swastikas seem to remain as popular today as ever.

4th September 1963

Poland beat Norway 9:0 in a football game. It’s one of the highest-scoring victories in the history of the Polish football team. Nowadays, Polish representation can only dream of such results, even though we’re supposed to be home to some world-class players.

5th September 1869

King Ludwig II of Bavaria began the construction of his fairytale castle Neuschwanstein. He didn’t live to see the finished project, and to add insult to injury, Disney later nicked his design.

6th September 1622

During a hurricane on the Florida coast, a Spanish treasure galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha sank. It was a nightmare for the sailors, as almost all of them died. To the king, it was an outrage, as the ship’s cargo included gold, silver, and precious jewels that were being transported from the New World to the monarch’s treasury. For the treasure hunters, however, it’s a dream come true. And it took them only some 350 years to reach it.

7th September 1911

The French police arrested poet Guillaume Apollinaire on the charge of stealing Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Apollinaire was suspected because of his radical approach to art. The painting was eventually retrieved, but the distaste remained.

8th September 1888

The first football league in the world took off in the British Isles. The English-Welsh Football League had a great start and saw the English clubs become among the very best in the world. As for the Welsh ones… well, they do have a great history, for sure.

9th September 1542

Aged just nine months, Mary Stuart was crowned the Queen of Scots. It was a beautiful start to an impressive career that ended with Mary’s beheading.

10th September 1831

Frederic Chopin arrived in Paris. And to think he could have gone back to his turmoiled fatherland to die in a Polish uprising – like a proper national hero, instead of spending all his time coughing on a piano.

11th September 1609

Henry Hudson, an English sailor serving in the Dutch fleet, discovered the island known as Manhattan today. He didn’t find anything particularly interesting there, and so he sailed up north, towards his favourite part of the world: the Arctic.

12th September 1940

A group of French teenagers accidentally discovered the paintings in the Lascaux cave. The images were waiting for thousands of years to be discovered, and once they got found, so many tourists flocked to see them that the French had to build a replica of the cave to accommodate everyone interested.

13th September 122 CE

The Romans started building Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England. The project would take them seven years to complete. And as soon as they finally got done with it, they had to start working on another fortification, even further up north, known as the Antonine Wall. It simply could not go on like this forever.

14th September 1814

During their battles with the English, the American poet Francis Scott Key reached for his quill instead of grabbing a gun. He wrote a poem titled The Star-Spangled Banner. Little did he know that 117 years later, his words would become the national anthem of the United States of America. Sometimes, words can travel a longer distance than bullets ever will.

15th September 1820

Nearly three years after Tadeusz Kościuszko’s death, the people of Kraków began raising a mound in his honour. And look, at least this story is clear and easy to fact-check. The histories of other burial mounds in the area, such as the ancient tombs of Krakus and Wanda, are supported by nothing but legends.

16th September 1231

In the German town of Kelheim, the Duke of Bavaria Ludwig I set out on his morning walk. While crossing a bridge, he was attacked by a man with a dagger. The duke died, and his murderer was soon hanged. Legend says that the duke was killed by an assassin from the Middle East. This was the first of many facts and myths about Muslim terrorists in Europe…

17th September 1598

Dutch sailors arrived at Mauritius and started colonizing the island. Oh, come on. They would have been way more successful if they’d just invested in their postal stamp collection instead.

18th September 1987

Jerzy Kukuczka reached the summit of Shishapangma, becoming the second man in history to complete the Crown of the Himalaya. Some will remember him as an extraordinary explorer, but for others, sadly, he will forever remain the second one…

19th September 1959

The Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was very excited with the prospect of getting to see Disneyland. It never happened though, as the American police decided such a visit would be way too dangerous for Khrushchev.

20th September 1260

The leader of the pagan tribe Natanga, Herkus Monte, convinced the neighbouring tribes to rise together against the Teutonic Knights. He was a great fighter – maybe even too great. He would lead the Great Prussian Uprising and defeat the Teutonic Knights, but it also led to numerous sacrifices and quarrels among his people. As a result, he was betrayed and given up to the Knights.

21st September 454 CE

The Roman leader Aetius arrived for his audience with Emperor Valentinian III. He expected praise, but instead got stabbed in the head. The fumbling Emperor was afraid that this great warrior would throw him off his throne. By killing Aetius, however, he deprived the empire of its best defender! The end of Rome was nigh...

22nd September 1938

Negotiations regarding Czechoslovakia were underway between the Western powers and Hitler. During his meeting with British Prime Minister Chamberlain, the Führer grew increasingly furious. The head of the British government (still a powerful empire at the time) thought his appeasing style of negotiations would help keep peace in the world, but he ended up surrendering to the tyrant instead. A week later, the disgraceful Munich Agreement would be signed.

23rd September 1980

Bob Marley finished his Pittsburgh concert with the song Get Up Stand Up. Sadly, this performance would become his own epitaph and his last live gig. Two days earlier, the artist found out that his cancer had spread so severely over his organs that there was no hope left. He only stayed with us until May 1981.

24th September 1976

Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of media mogul William Randolph Hearst, was convicted for bank robbery. She did it together with a group of leftist terrorists who had previously abducted her and had her ‘brainwashed’. Patty was convicted to seven years in prison, but the president of the US granted her parole after just 22 months. Could the name Hearst have had something to do with it?

25th September 1830

The revolution in Belgium began. It would be successful for the Belgians, but not so much for occupied Poland. Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, also known as the “gendarme of Europe” decided to send an army from Congress Poland to quench the unrest in Belgium. This move made Poles hasten the rebellion they were planning on their own turf. Sadly, unlike the Belgian revolution, ours did not end successfully.

26th September 1982

The first episode of the television series Knight Rider was aired. The show, starring the spunky David Hasselhoff and his trusty talking car, was an 80s’ nightmare, still coming back to haunt us from time to time.

27th September 1937

Hunters on the Indonesian island Bali took a proud photo with a tiger they had shot. Little did they know that there would be no more moments as triumphant as this one. They had killed the last Bali tiger and the whole species became extinct.

28th September 1785

Napoleon Bonaparte passed his artillery examination at the military academy. He was 42nd out of 51 candidates. How fearsome! No wonder he would spend the rest of his life trying to prove he was the best after all.

29th September 1916 

American tycoon John D. Rockefeller became the first billionaire in history. Today, there are over 2000 of them, but there are still many poor people in the world. And the numbers of both will continue to rise.

30th September 1659

The first mention in a newspaper of the overwhelming popularity of tennis in America – more precisely, in the North American Dutch colony known as New Netherland. No reason to get overexcited, though. Popularity was a dangerous thing! The very same note in the newspaper said that colony members were not allowed to play tennis during the times of service in the church. Game, set, amen.


Translated by Aga Zano

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