February 17, 1957
GROMYKO BECOMES SOVIET FOREIGN MINISTER
The Soviet government today announced that Andrei Gromyko is now Foreign Minister for the USSR.
Mr. Gromyko started in the foreign service in 1939 & after WWII became an expert in Cold War diplomacy.*
*Gromyko would be invited to the White House in October 1962 before the US announced it had evidence of a Soviet build up of nuclear missile sites in Cuba. President Kennedy had the photographs showing the missiles in his desk but did not let on to Gromyko who continued to say that the USSR was not putting missiles in Cuba.
Gromyko 3rd from left meeting with JFK in 1962
February 17, 1979
CHINESE INVADE VIETNAM
In response to Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia, Chinese troops attacked Vietnam today.
Tensions have been building between the two communist nations since the Vietnam War ended in 1975. Vietnam had previously sent their troops into Laos & the Chinese government has been troubled about Vietnam’s ties with the USSR.
February 17, 1972
VW BEETLE IS NOW #1 SELLER OF ALL TIME
The Volkswagen Beetle became the #l automobile ever to be produced today as the 15,007,034th German mini car rolled off the assembly line. The Beetle moved ahead of Henry Ford’s Model T which previously held the record.
The VW Beetle was the brainchild of Adolf Hitler & Ferdinand Porsche. It was touted as “the people’s car” but did not go into mass production until after WWII.
The 1st VW plant was located in Wolfsburg, Germany.*
The VW was produced from 1938 to 2003.
February 17, 1947
VOA BROADCASTS TO SOVIET UNION
The Voice of America began shortwave broadcasts to the USSR today. The American broadcasts are in the Russian language.
The VOA hopes to “give listeners in the USSR a picture of life in America.”*
*The sound quality of the broadcast was poor due to bad weather & technical problems.
February 17, 1909
Apache chief Geronimo, known for fighting against both the United States & Mexico, died today.
The chief, born in 1829, was famous for his daring exploits as well as his ability to escape capture for many years.
February 17, 1904
MADAME BUTTERFLY PREMIERS IN ITALY
The opera Madame Butterfly premiered today at the Scala Theater in Milan, Italy.
Written by Giacomo Puccini over a 2 year span, the opera is based on the play by David Belarco which was based on a story by John Luther King.*
*Madame Butterfly wins international success & is performed for the 1st time at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 1907.
February 17, 1864
H.L. HUNLEY SINKS USS HOUSATONIC
The 1st submarine to engage & sink a warship in all recorded history occurred today when the Confederate Navy’s H.L. Hunley succeeded in sinking the USS Housatonic off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.
The Housatonic was on blockade duty when the Hunley’s spar placed a torpedo inside her hull. There were 8 crewmen aboard the submarine.
The Hunley, named after its builder Horace L. Hunley, disappeared shortly after sinking the Houstonic.*
*The H.L. Hunley has been recovered & can be seen today in Charleston.