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Published:April 30th, 2008 15:22 EST
World Chronicle: April 30

World Chronicle: April 30

By Krzys Wasilewski

It happened today in Vienna, Germany...

The Austrian government is considering changing the law after it turned out that a man who kept his daughter locked in a cellar for more than 20 years and repeatedly raped her and fathered her seven kids faces up to only 15 years in prison. On Wednesday, other women called the police claiming that the same man had broken into their houses and raped them more than two decades ago. Joseph Fritzl, 73, also faces charges of killing another woman. People from his hometown cannot believe that the man, whom they describe as a “typical neighbor,” could have led the second life. Only a year ago a similar case was uncovered in the capital, Vienna, where another man kidnapped a little girl and then kept her hostage for more than 10 years. Austria, together with other western European countries, has one of the most liberal laws in the world, with convicts receiving more privileges than some of ordinary citizens.

It happened 63 years ago in Berlin, Germany...

Locked in his bunker in the center of Berlin, Adolf Hitler shot himself and his wife, Eva Braun, swallowed a poisonous pill on the last day of April 1945. Very little is known about the last moments of Hitler's life as the Fuhrer forbade anyone to enter his private chambers. Although mentally unstable, he must have realized that the Russians– the “barbarians” he feared and despised the most– were in the suburbs of Berlin, with American and British forces quickly approaching from the west. Shortly after Hitler committed suicide, the first Soviet troops broke into the bunker. When they found the bodies of Hitler and Braun, they took them outside, covered them with gasoline and set them on fire. A medical examination was conducted two days later and confirmed that the burned corpses were indeed those of Germany's first couple.

It happened 108 years ago in Honolulu, Hawaii...

Hawaii became a US territory on this day in 1900. The acquisition of the islands marked a new period in American history– for the first time the republic reached for distant territories to secure the country's interests in Asia. At the time of the annexation, Hawaii was inhabited by some 154,000 people, but the strategic location of the islands made it a valuable addition to the spreading empire. President McKinley, who assumed office in 1896, feared that if the United States hesitated for too long, some European powers, such as Germany or Great Britain, would snatch the archipelago. It would be 60 years until Hawaii obtained statehood.

It happened 205 years ago in Washington, DC...

It was on this day in 1803 that the United States purchased Louisiana, the territory twice as big as the fledgling republic. For a little more than 23 million dollars, President Thomas Jefferson acquired from France land of 828,000 square miles, stretching from the border with Mexico to the frontier with Canada. When senators learned about Jefferson's negotiations with the French, they accused him of breaching the constitution; they feared that such an independent policy could lead to an autocratic rule. Only after it was realized what great possibilities the new land created, did the president win popular applause. Napoleon Bonaparte, who orchestrated the sell, said, “This accession of territory affirms forever the power of the United States, and I have given England a maritime rival who sooner or later will humble her pride.” Within years, 15 modern states were curved out of the great territory of the French Louisiana, together with two Canadian provinces.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please write to: krzys.wasilewski@yahoo.com