This Week in History: February 28th to March 5th

February 29, 2020

March 1st:

On this day in 1941, an earthquake occurred in Larissa around 6 AM leaving 40 people dead and thousands homeless. During the period 1941-1980 Thessalia (Eastern Central Greece) experienced a series of strong earthquakes, which caused damage to a large number of localities and to all its major towns. According to the New York Times article published the day after the March first quake, more than 19,000 were said to be homeless. The prefect at Larissa, in an appeal for help, telegraphed authorities in Athens that nearly two-thirds of the city’s population was driven to the streets. The government sent several special relief trains to the city while troop detachments dug into the wreckage to rescue the imprisoned. Royal Air Force bombers carried heavy loads of medical and other supplies from Athens to the earthquake area. British rescuers were also engaged in the help efforts as well. Final reports stated that 10% of the city’s buildings had been completely destroyed and 60% were seriously damaged.

March 3rd:

On this day in 1968, five foreign embassies, including the Greek embassy, as well as a U.S. Army officers club were subjected to bomb attacks in London, The Hague, and Turin during an unprecedented rash of violations of diplomatic sanctity in the brief time frame of a few hours. In The Hague, bombs exploded in the Greek, Portuguese, and Spanish embassies and Police raced to the U.S. embassy after an anonymous telephone caller warned it would be bombed as well. No casualties were reported among the staff of the three embassies, but six firemen and four policemen were taken to the hospital with injuries after the first two explosions. Police said the blasts at the Greek and Spanish embassies caused considerable damage. The Hague Police believed the bombing of the embassies were acts of protest against the governments of the countries involved.

Coincidentally, also on this day in 1945 (during World War II), the Royal Air Force mistakenly targeted and bombed the Bezuidenhout neighborhood in the Dutch city of The Hague. At the time, the neighborhood was more densely populated than usual with evacuees from The Hague and Wassenaar. Tens of thousands were left homeless and had to be quartered in the Eastern and Central Netherlands. The British bomber crews had intended to bomb the Haagse Bos (Forest of the Hague) district where the Germans had installed V-2 launching facilities that had been used to attack English cities. However, the pilots were issued with the wrong coordinates so the navigational instruments of the bombers had been set incorrectly, and combined with fog and clouds which obscured their vision, the bombs were instead dropped on the residential neighborhood.

March 4th:

On this day in 2008, Elena Nathanael, the Greek film actress, passed away at the age of 61. Born in Athens, Nathanael was the daughter of a wealthy textile designer and manufacturer. Her impressively good looks got her noticed in the 1960s by producers and directors of the then-flourishing Greek cinema. After studying drama at the Pelos Katselis Drama School, Nathanael got her first screen part in the 1963 movie. She often played a beautiful but spoiled Athenian rich girl. In 1968, she received a best actress award at the Salonica film festival in the movie Rendez-vous with a Stranger. In the early seventies she established her screen persona (that of a free-spirited, beautiful young woman) and became something of a fashion icon but with the abrupt decline of the Greek commercial cinema in 1973 her career came to a halt. After a seven-year absence she made a comeback of sorts with a number of straight-to-video movies, usually light comedies. Her trademark became her jet black, lustrous and waist-length hair. In the later years of her life, she lived in Evia with her partner, former Olympiacos football player Tasos Mitropoulos, where she was actively involved with wine production. She died after a lengthy battle with lung cancer and was survived by her daughter, Inka.



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