Welcome to the next episode of What Happened. This time we will look more into the history of Europe, namely at Jack the Ripper, the death of Princess Diana and the beginning of the Second World War. But let’s start pretty sequentially, that is, with the year 1888. In this year, the first victim of Jack the Ripper was murdered.
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The nickname Jack the Ripper was given to a London serial killer who, in the second half of 1888, murdered several women who made a living from prostitution. However, we will probably never know the real name, as the killer was never caught. His victims were always women and their number is not clear – it is probably between 5 and 11. He committed murders in public places, mostly in back alleys. He first cut the victim’s throat and then mutilated her. Some of the women had their entrails cut out, leading investigators to believe the killer had knowledge of anatomy. According to the latest research, everything points to the fact that Jack the Ripper was a butcher.
Why did he only focus on prostitutes? Allegedly because the Ripper was infected with a venereal disease from one of the prostitutes, which made him hate him. His first victim was 43-year-old Mary Ann Nichols on August 31, 1888. The murders of four more women – Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly – followed. There is also speculation about the number of victims because some researchers believe that there were more killers and they killed independently of each other. The suspects were more than 10 men and among them was even Prince Albert Victor, who was the son of the then heir to the throne, later King Edward VII.
Let’s move forward a bit in time and look at September 1, 1939. Although Czechoslovakia was already occupied before that date, this day is considered the start of World War II after Germany invaded Poland. The reaction did not take long, and on September 3, 1939, France and Great Britain, including the Commonwealth of Nations, declared war on Germany. Poland was also attacked by the Soviet Union on September 17, which ended with Poland being redistributed between Germany and the Soviet Union. The partition was preceded by a treaty of 24 August 1939, the so-called “Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact”, which stated, among other things, that the two states would not attack each other or ally with their enemies.
Germany later focused on the west and on June 14 German troops occupied Paris and France capitulated on June 22, 1940 – the country was thus occupied. In 1940, the Air Battle of Britain began. On June 22, 1941, Germany broke the mutual agreement and invaded the Soviet Union, and that was the beginning of the end of the war. In the same year, Nazi Germany declared war on the United States at the same time as Italy, which only confirmed the global conflict, since the US was already at war with Japan at that time. May 8, 1945 is considered the end of the war in Europe, when Germany unconditionally surrendered.
During this war, there was a great loss of life not only because of the warfare itself, but also because of the genocide, when, in addition to Poles, Roma and other groups of people, 6 million Jews died in concentration camps that were built all over Europe. Many people also perished in Soviet gulags and labor camps where people from occupied countries were imprisoned. The estimated number of victims is 60 million, of which more than half were civilians.
And finally, we remember the date August 31, 1997. On this day, Princess Diana died in a car accident. Diana, Princess of Wales was born on July 31, 1961 to the aristocratic Spencer family. On July 29, 1981, Diana married Prince Charles, the heir to the throne. She gave birth to William Arthur Philip Louse (Prince William) on 21 June 1981 and to Henry Charles Albert David (Prince Harry) on 15 September 1984.
Princess Diana died in Paris as she tried to escape the journalists who were chasing her. The driver of the car was allegedly drunk and drove at a high speed, which he could not control and crashed into the wall on the right side of the tunnel they were passing through. The car bounced off the wall and crashed head-on into the thirteenth pillar supporting the tunnel. Both the driver and Diana’s boyfriend at the time, Dodi Al-Fayed, were pronounced dead at the scene. Diana managed to be transferred to the hospital, but the doctors discovered that her injuries were so serious that, despite the surgery, they had to declare the princess dead.
The funeral took place on 6 September 1997 in Westminster Abbey and three million people attended the funeral. Two and a half billion viewers in a total of 187 countries watched the final farewell on television. Diana is buried at Althorp, on an island in the middle of a lake.