1961 News and Interesting History Tidbits



East Germany Border Closes To West Germany
German communists closed the border between East and West Germany stopping refugees from leaving and Going to West Germany , they also started laying barbed wire as the first step to building the Berlin Wall .








Trial of the UK Portland Spy Ring Begins
Three men and two women go on trial at the Old Bailey charged with plotting to pass official secrets to the Russians breaking the Official Secrets Act. The trial of the accused known as the Portland Spy Ring ( because they all worked in and around the Portland area with some of the accused working as civil servants at the Underwater Weapons Establishment in Dorset ) lasted about two weeks. One of the things they were selling the Russians included the plans HMS Dreadnought, Britain's first nuclear submarine. The five accused were Gordon Lonsdale, Henry Houghton, Peter Kroger, Helen Kroger, and Ethel Gee .

They were all found guilty and sentenced to terms up to 20 years .








Soviet Union Yuri Gagarin becomes the First Man in Space
The Soviet Union successfully launched the first man into space . Yuri Gagarin , a 27-year-old air force major. He orbited the Earth in 1hr 40 minutes. The next target is to put a man on the moon which the US achieves before the end of the decade








World Wide Fund for Nature Started
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is created for the conservation, research and restoration of the natural environment in Switzerland. It is the world's largest independent conservation organisation with over 5 million supporters worldwide supporting research and protection for endangered species, pollution and climate change.






The Antarctic Treaty System
The Antarctic Treaty System comes into force to regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, "all land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude parallel". Antarctica is the Earth's only continent without a native human population.

Antarctic Treaty System mission statement
"The main objective of the "Antarctic Treaty System" ATS is to ensure in the interests of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord."









Kennedy Inauguration No T-Birds Available
Kennedy Inauguration was January 20, 1961, immediately after Chief Justice Earl Warren had sworn Kennedy in.

What many do not realise is the cars used for the parade Ford's Popular Thunderbird
were so popular that Ford could not supply the 25 Ford T-Birds that Kennedy wanted for the parade as they had none available.

It was solved when Ford decided to make some of their customers wait until after the parade before they would receive the T-Birds they were waiting for.










Bay of Pigs
A group of 1,500 Cuban exiles supported by the US government invade the Bay of Pigs on the southern coast of Cuba in an attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. The invasion failed miserably and by 21st April all had been killed or captured.



One year earlier the CIA had recommended to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Administration to recruit, support, equip and train Cuban exiles for action against the new government of Fidel Castro. Following the change to the new U.S. President John F. Kennedy in February who was also advised the operation would be a success, the operation was continued.



Cuba was tipped off by senior KGB agents and intelligence forces arrested more than 100,000 Cubans who they suspected would be allies of the expected invading force, ensuring that the invading forces would be cut off from support.



President Fidel Castro of Cuba makes a statement on TV and Radio nationwide, over the "Bay Of Pigs" invasion that he holds the United States directly responsible for this gangsterism against Cuba.



Castro bans elections in Cuba saying "The revolution has no time for elections." and telling the thousands who attended the May Day Celebrations Cuba is now a socialist country.



Castro tells Roman Catholic priests they will be expelled and all Roman Catholic and private schools will be nationalised.








Xingu National Park Brazil
The Xingu National Park was created on April 14, 1961, by the Brazilian President Jânio Quadros.

The Park was created to protect the rain forest environment and the indigenous tribes who live in the area, many of whom do not have contact with the outside world. the climate ranges between a rainy season, from November to April, and long periods of severe droughts. The area teems with tropical wildlife and covers over 8,500 sq miles.








Amnesty International Started
Amnesty International an international non-governmental organization set up in 1961 in the UK to draw attention to human rights abuses around the world









Disposable Diapers Introduced
Procter & Gamble introduce " Pampers " Disposable Diapers ( UK Called Nappies ) paper based to replace the traditional diaper made from cloth .









Texas Sales Tax Introduced
The House Members in Texas approved a bill for a general retail sales tax of 2% on all sales in Texas but all foods , medicines and Farm Machinery will be exempt.








Peace Corps Created
President John F. Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps as a new agency within the Department of State








Charles De Gaule
In France the backing for Charles De Gaule continues to grow and he is now backed by the Army, Air Force and the people of France.








First Direct US Military Involvement Vietnam
A U.S. aircraft carrier carrying Army helicopters arrived in Saigon the first direct American military support for South Vietnam's battle against Communist guerrillas.








Republic of Cameroon
French Cameroun Gains Independence from France in 1960
British Cameroons Gains Independence from Britain in 1961
They combine to create the country the Republic of Cameroon in 1961








Fidel Castro
On a national radio broadcast in Cuba Fidel Castro declares that he was a Marxist-Leninist and that Cuba was to adopt Communism








Birth Control Pill
The birth control pill an oral contraception will now be available in Great Britain on the National Health Service.








Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Eichmann ( a high-ranking Nazi and SS Obersturmbannfuhrer during World War II) was indicted today on 15 criminal charges in Jerusalem, Israel. He was convicted in December of 1961 and hanged in Jerusalem on June 1, 1962.








Medicare Program
President Kennedy asked Congress to approve a health insurance program ( The Medicare Program ) for 14.2 million Americans 65 or older, financed by an increase in Social Security taxes.








JFK advises citizens to build bomb shelters
President John F. Kennedy advises American families to build bomb shelters to protect them from atomic fallout in the event of a nuclear war. Many Americans did prepare for nuclear war by buying up canned goods and building backyard bomb shelters. Also at the time many home builders offered a bomb shelter as part of new home packages.







Arms Build Up During Cold War To Protect Against The Commies
President John F. Kennedy got approval from Congress to spend $958 million to purchase missiles, planes, and war ships to bolster the American military.



This arms build up was felt to be needed because of the communist threat to West Berlin and other areas. Kennedy got powers from Congress to call 250,000 reservists into active duty and to extend their tour of duty for one year.








California Fires 1961
Two more California fires broke out. This was in addition to the ones that had destroyed the homes of many celebrities on the day before. Stars affected by these blazing flames included Burt Lancaster, Joe E. Brown, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Ex-Vice President Richard M. Nixon also suffered the plight of fire damage to his home.








Man on The Moon
President Kennedy asks Congress for $531 million to help the US put a man on the moon before the end of the decade.








Railways Segregation To End In US
Segregation on railways in the south will end as 3 of the major railroads have stated they will end segregation on all trains immediately








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