This year will see a number of important historical anniversaries. Here are just a few:
50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive
On 23rd September 1968, the Tet Offensive began. Named after the Vietnamese festival celebrating lunar new year, the Tet Offensive was a coordinated series of attacks by North Vietnam on the South and US forces.
It was hoped that the offensive would encourage the people of South Vietnam to rebel and join the North’s cause, while at the same time encouraging the US to pull out of the conflict.
While it was unsuccessful in its first aim, it did manage to shock the American public and turn the tide of popular opinion, eventually leading to the withdrawal of American troops, albeit a slow, protracted one.
If you want your students to learn more about the Tet Offensive, a school trip to Vietnam is well worthwhile. In particular, Hue, the former imperial capital that sits on the border of North and South Vietnam still bears the scars of the huge battle and subsequent occupation by the Viet Cong during the Tet Offensive.
Peace for our time
30th September will be the 80th anniversary of Chamberlain’s famous speech, ‘Peace for our time’.
The speech centred around the Munich Agreement and the Anglo-German Declaration, part of the then Prime Minister’s policy of appeasement.
Chamberlain believed that the agreement he had reached with Hitler meant their two countries would not go to war with each other again.
However, he was proved wrong less than a year later when Hitler invaded Poland and the Second World War broke out.
80th anniversary of Kristallnacht
On 9th November 1938 a pogrom against Jews was carried out throughout Nazi Germany, by both SA paramilitary forces and German civilians.
The name Kristallnacht comes from the shards of broken glass that were strewn across streets throughout the country after the windows of Jewish-owned businesses, homes and synagogues were set upon.
Kristallnacht is now considered now to be one of the first events of the Holocaust and the Final Solution.
Centennial of the Armistice to end WW1
Of course, perhaps the most significant anniversary this academic year will be the centennial of the armistice which ended WW1, on 11th November.
Bells will ring across the world at 12.30 on 11th November to reflect the outpouring of relief at the end of the war. This reflects how bells rung out across Britain in 1918, as news of the armistice spread – they had largely remained silent during the war.
10,000 people will march past the Cenotaph in London in ‘A Nation’s Thank You – The People’s Procession’.
In Ypres there will be a special Last Post ceremony held at the Menin Gate at 11.00, and a music concert will be held at the cathedral too.
95th anniversary of the death of Vladimir Lenin
On 21st January 1924, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin, passed away. One of the most influential figures of the 20th century, Lenin had led Russia through revolution and its reincarnation as a one-party Communist state.
Despite Lenin’s criticism of him, Joseph Stalin assumed leadership of the country after his death.
It is still possible to visit Lenin’s Mausoleum on a school trip to Moscow. Such a visit will help students to understand the extent to which the personality cult surrounding Lenin was used after his death to further the Communist cause, both in Russia and further afield.
75th anniversary of D-Day
On 6th June 1944, Operation Overlord began as the Allies invaded Normandy. The largest seaborne invasion in history was the beginning of the liberation Nazi-occupied north-western Europe.
On the 75th anniversary in 2019, a memorial will be unveiled carrying the names of those who lost their lives in the D-Day landings and the Normandy campaign. President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Theresa May will attend the unveiling.
90th anniversary of the birth of Anne Frank
On 12th June 1929, Annelies Marie Frank was born in Frankfurt. 13 years later she would be given an autograph book which she decided to use as a diary.
In her diary, she would chronicle the effects of the escalation of the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis, including her time in hiding in the Secret Annex.
Her last entry in the diary was on 1st August 1944. The group in hiding were arrested on 4th August 1944 and taken to Westerbork transit camp. From there, they were deported to Auschwitz.
In early 1945, both Anne and her elder sister Margot died from typhus in Bergen-Belsen.
June 2019 will see what would have been Anne’s 90th birthday. A school trip to Amsterdam to see where she and her family went into hiding will be particularly poignant and will help your students to understand the sheer devastating scale of the Holocaust, and just how much was lost.
Centenary of the Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28th June 1919, five years to the day that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo – the event that triggered WW1.
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties that brought WW1 to an end and officially ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers.
Famously, the Treaty of Versailles included a War Guilt clause that forced Germany to admit responsibility for causing the war, to pay reparations, make substantial territorial concessions and disarm.
The treaty was signed in the palace’s famous Hall of Mirrors, which you can still visit on a school trip to Paris!
And here’s what to look out for next year!
•1st – 80th anniversary of Germany invading Poland
•3rd – 80th anniversary of Britain and France declaring war on Germany
•9th – 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall
•28th – 100th anniversary of Lady Astor becoming an MP and the first woman to sit in the House of Commons
•17th – 100th anniversary of King George V proclaiming Armistice Day (which later became Remembrance Day)
•75th anniversary of the death of Anne Frank (the actual date of her death is unknown, but is thought to be March 1945, the 12th is the date attributed)
•22nd – 150th anniversary of the birth of Russian revolutionary and leader Vladimir Lenin
•28th – 75th anniversary of the execution of Benito Mussolini
•30th – Anniversary of Hitler’s death
•8th – 75th anniversary of VE Day
•12th – 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale
•27th – 80th anniversary of the Dunkirk Evacuation
•10th – 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain