23 January – Today in German History


  • Death of Otto III, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in Viterbo, Italy (born in Germany in 980). As a child, Otto was crowned King of the Germans in Aachen in 983 following the death of his father, Otto II. In 996 he led his army to Rome to assist Pope John XV who was facing an insurrection by the forces of Crescentius. By the time Otto arrived the Pope had died but Otto was able to use his influence to secure the election of his cousin, Bruno von Kärnten, who took the name Gregory V and became the first German pope. In 996 Gregory V crowned Otto III as the Holy Roman Emperor. After Otto had left Crecentius challenged the papacy again, installing an anti-pope. Once again Otto led his troops to Rome and in 998 executed Crecentius and secured Gregory V in the office of the pope. At this time he determined to remain in Rome with the intention of ruling Europe as a theocracy with himself as the ruler and the pope only somewhat below him in power in the Christian Europe he planned.


  • On January 23, 1920, the Dutch government refuses demands by the Allies for the extradition of Wilhelm II, the former Kaiser of Germany, who has been living in exile in the Netherlands since November 1918. By early November 1918, things were looking dismal for the Central Powers on all fronts of the Great War. The kaiser was at German army headquarters in the Belgian resort town of Spa when news reached him, in quick succession, of labor unrest in Berlin, a mutiny within the Imperial Navy and what looked like the beginnings of a full-fledged revolution in Germany. From every direction, it seemed, came calls for peace, reform and the removal of the kaiser. Wilhelm II was told that the German General Staff would make a unified, orderly march home to Germany when the war ended, but it would not defend him against his internal opponents. Faced with this lack of support, the kaiser agreed to abdicate his throne on November 9, 1918. Shortly after that, Wilhelm, the last of the powerful Hohenzollern monarchs, traveled from Spa to Holland, never to return to German soil. In January 1920, Wilhelm headed the list of so-called war criminals put together by the Allies and made public after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The Netherlands, under the young, strong-willed Queen Wilhelmina, refused to extradite him for prosecution and Wilhelm remained in Holland, where he settled in the municipality of Doorn. Personal tragedy struck when his son, Joachim, committed suicide later in 1920. Augusta, his wife and the mother of his seven children died barely a year later. In 1922, Wilhelm remarried and published his memoirs, proclaiming his innocence in the promotion of the Great War. Unlike Wilhelmina and the rest of the Dutch royal family, Wilhelm turned down Winston Churchill’s offer of asylum in Britain in 1940, as Hitler’s armies pushed through Holland, choosing instead to live under German occupation. He died the following year.


  • Charles A. Lindbergh, a United States national hero since his nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic, testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Lend-Lease policy-and suggests that the United States negotiate a neutrality pact with Hitler.


  • The British captured Tripoli from the Germans.

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