What happened this month in history?

June 1st 1926

The birth of Norma Jeane Mortenson aka Marilyn Monroe.

The world would truly be a dull place without the extraordinary charisma and talent of American actress and model Marilyn Monroe, born on June 1st 1926, at the Los Angeles County Hospital. She starred in 29 films, and is best remembered for her dizzy blonde bombshell performances in films such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and How to Marry a Millionaire (1953). But as intoxicating as she was, Marilyn it seemed also had a talent for comedic relief, arguably best remembered in the film The Seven Year Itch (1955). The same film, also produced arguably one of the best scenes in cinema history, where she stood over a subway grate and her white dress blew up in the air. Interestingly, not known for her dramatic abilities, she put in one of her finest performance in the film Bus Stop (1956) that earned her a global globe nomination.

Hollywood profited greatly from her popularity, but in private Marilyn was a fragile woman. In her early years as a child, she was in and out of foster care after her mother Gladys was institutionalized. She was subsequently exploited and abused (raped as a small child) but at sixteen escaped the clutches of her abusive carers the only way she knew how by getting married. Forging her way in the world she was forced to skimp and felt uneasy for a number of years before being recognized as a budding model late in 1944 by photographer David Conover.

It was during this period in her life that her career in front of the camera truly got off the ground, after quiting work on the assembly line at Radioplane, a munitions factory.

Marilyn would soar to the dizzy heights of fame during the 1950’s, but in a troubled life away from the cameras, her inner demons would bare all too much for the flamboyant starlet, when she was pronounced dead in the early hours of August 5th 1962 from probable suicide.


June 6th 1944

D-Day and the battle for Normandy begins.

One of the most talked about days of the last century occurred on 6th June 1944. It is known as D-Day. It was the first day of Operation Overload, which saw the largest combined land-sea-air operation in history. Its objective was the liberation of western Europe from Nazi occupation.

The plans for Operation Overlord were talked about as far back as 1942. In the years between 1942 and June 1944, every detail of the operation was meticulously looked at, which included an elaborate deception plan to convince the Germans that the Allies planned to land an invasion force nowhere near Normandy. Deception plans were also followed up by months of intensive air bombing in 1944, which aimed to disrupt German lines. It was then on the early morning of 6th June 1944 over Normandy, that five desolate beaches – code-named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword – became the scene of heavy fighting and the beginning of the end of the Third Reich.

Led under the Allied supreme command of US General Dwight D. Eisenhower, around 3 million men (made up of French, British, Canadian and American forces) with 13,000 aircraft and 4000 ships disembarked on Normandy beaches. In addition to the landings, one British and two US airborne divisions parachuted in behind enemy lines to disrupt German efforts and their ability to counter-attack.

It is said that the D-Day landings for a short while, looked as if they might fail during the course of the morning. The heaviest fighting occurred on Omaha beach, but by the end of the day, the beach head was secured. However, strategic objections to advance inland as far as possible, came up short. Overall though, the first day of Operation Overlord was a qualified success.


June 12th 1931

Indictments put an end to Al Capone and his empire.

On the 12th June 1931, Eliot Ness and his “Untouchables” and the Justice Department, charged notorious gangland chief Al Capone issuing him with indictments for violations of US prohibition laws. Interestingly, a week earlier Treasury Department agents led by Frank Wilson had already acquired indictments against Al Capone for tax evasion. In a strategic move, the US District Attorney’s office decided to prosecute Capone for income tax evasion first and, if for some reason they failed to prosecute Capone, they would then pursue the prohibition charges brought by Ness. While Eliot Ness’s dogged investigation did not put Capone in prison, he did seriously cripple Capone’s underworld empire.

Capone had once dominated the gangland scene since the infamous St. Valentine’s Day massacre of 1929. He built his empire by profiting from gambling and prostitution, but bootlegging made him extremely wealthy.

Arrested and charged, Al Capone would be sentenced to serve eleven years in jail for tax evasion. He would later be released after serving around seven years, but his days as a gangland boss were over. By 1940, he was a broken man with the onset of late-stage syphilis destroying Capone state of mind. Capone would die in 1947 from a fatal heart attack.


June 19th 325 CE

The Council of Nicaea’s promulgation of the Nicene Creed.

According to Bishop Arius in the early part of the fourth century, Jesus as the Son of God, was not the same substance as God the Father. He preached that there was once a time before the Son of God, when only God the father existed. The controversy bought about a lot of internal conflict within the church, where warring factions threatened to tear the church apart. Emperor Constantine’s rightly decided to flex his imperial muscle and take control of the matter at hand and announced a great council, the first “Ecumenical Council’, where every bishop in the empire was invited to attend. Approximately three hundred and eighteen bishops gathered at Nicaea, near Constantinople. An overwhelming majority were Eastern Bishops with a reported handful from the west.

For a month, beginning on May 20th to June 19th, the Council discussed minor matters from baptism, to setting the dates of Easter, the Meletian schism to the burning issue of the relationship between the Son and the Father. One can only imagine how fiery and robust debate amongst the bishops would have been. Undoubtedly, there would have been a lot of hotheads with egos to match. There were even rumours of alleged punches thrown at Arius on the council floor.

Interestingly, the great emperor Constantine stressed throughout the importance of unity on all matters at hand and the need to compromise in reaching a decision, especially on the matter of the relationship between the Son and Father. Although debate was encouraged, in reality Constantine made sure that his idea of what the statement of faith should be was followed. He bullishly wound up all manner of debate by stating that his version of the creed (it is said, composed by a Cappadocian priest) and the use of the word ‘homoousios’, of like substance would describe Jesus relationship with God.

“We believe in One God, the father, Almighty, Maker of all that is, seen and unseen. And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the father, Only-begotten, that is from the substance of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father, by whom all things were made, both things in heaven and in earth; who for us and for our salvation came down and was incarnate, was made man, suffered and rose again on the third day, ascended into heaven and is coming to judge the living and dead; and in the Holy Spirit.”   –Creed of the Council of Nacaea, 325 AD.

The Nicene Creed (above) that Constantine had overseen during the month of proceedings in 325 was proclaimed on the last day of the council. More than just a statement of faith, it became the official definition of what it meant to be Christian, and defined what the ‘true’ church believed.


June 22nd 1898

Birth of Erich Maria Remarque

On June 22nd, 1898, Erich Maria Remarque was born in the city of Osnabruck, in the federal state of Lower- Saxony, in Germany. He is the famed author of the classic novel, All Quiet on the Western Front (1928).

He was drafted into the German army at the age of eighteen, where he witnessed first hand the horrors of the Great War. He, himself, was wounded during the war by several pieces of shrapnel. His injuries would confine him to a German hospital for the rest of the war.

After the war, he worked at a number of different jobs – a teacher, salesman and racing driver – all while working to finish a novel that had been on his mind, since his time when injured during the war. The novel in question was published in Germany as Im Westen Nichts Neues, which became an amazing success within a year. It sold a staggering 1.2 million copies and was later translated into English as All Quiet on the Western Front. It found similar success across the English-speaking world and was made into a Hollywood film.

The books anti-war themes, depictions of trench warfare and the internal turmoil of a generation of men, who suffered because of the Great War, appealed to readers from most demographics. However, like many books, it did not escape criticism and was accused of cashing in on public sentiment.

Remarque’s harshest critics though were his own countrymen, who felt that he unfairly criticized the German war effort. In the early 1930’s, Nazi propaganda literally tore to shreds his book. It was banned and publicly burned, forcing Remarque to eventually leave Germany for Switzerland.

For a short while he lived in the United States in the 1940’s , but eventually returned to Switzerland , where he spent the rest of his life. His list of works, many of them on the horror of war, have enjoyed varied success, but his best known novel and classic All Quiet on the Western Front remains the book that defines him.


June 28th 1389

Battle of Kosovo of 1389.

On June 28th (June 15th, old style calendar) was fought between the armies of the Serbian prince Lazar and Ottoman forces of Sultan Murad I. The battle was fiercely fought with massive numbers of casualties on both side, but ultimately in defeat for the Serbs. Ignoring the Turkish advance of archers, the Serbs set in motion a cavalry charge that smashed through the Turkish left flank. After initially being thrown by the bold move, the Turks slowly but surely regained the upper hand. Things went from bad to worse for the Serbs, when one of their princes fled the battle with twelve thousand of his men. In short the battle was lost for Serbia. The consequences saw the utter collapse of  Serbia and the complete encirclement of what remained of the Byzantine Empire. The Battle itself, in the years that followed became a symbol of Serbian patriotism and a desire for self-determination. The Serbian Orthodox church would later canonize Prince Lazar as a saint and honour all its Serbian martyrs, who gave their lives to defend their country and faith. In an interesting footnote to history, it would be some four hundred years later that Serbia arose again, against its overlord the Ottoman empire.  

This series aims to take a look at many of the important events or memorable moments that shape our history month after month. It will be on occasions updated to include additional material, giving you the reader a rough guide to what happened this month in history!

*This article was originally published on June 19th 2016.