What Happened on August 13?

  • Construction began on the Berlin Wall, dividing East and West Germany. (1961) Berlin, Germany, was divided to isolate the Soviet-controlled East side of the city and to halt the mass exodus of citizens. After World War II, about 3 million people fled East Germany and headed for West Germany where there were better opportunities. By this time in 1961, more than 1,000 people were leaving East Germany daily. The wall came down on November 9, 1989.

  • Jamie Gavin became the world's youngest heart and lung transplant patient. (1985) The three-year-old boy from Dublin suffered from congenital heart disease. He was given the heart and lungs of a three-year-old girl who had died after falling out of a third-story window. Jamie survived until July 1992.

  • A solar eclipse inspired a murderous rampage in which 70 slaves killed 56 white people. (1831) Nat Turner, a slave in Virginia, saw the eclipse as a sign from God. He led a slave rebellion eight days later which led to the deaths of 56 white people. He was later executed for his crimes, along with 56 other slaves who took part in the rebellion.

  • The Memphis yellow-fever epidemic claimed its first victim. (1878) Restaurant owner Kate Bionda from Memphis was the first victim; she contracted the illness from a man who escaped from quarantine. 25,000 people fled the city within the first week after her death. Of the residents left, about 200 died per day, including half of the city's doctors. The epidemic finally ended with a frost in October after killing more than 20,000 people.

  • Michael Phelps became the winningest Olympic athlete in history. (2008) Phelps won his 11th career Olympic gold medal in the men's 200m butterfly, setting a record for the most gold medals won by an individual.

  • Women were first allowed to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. (1918) Opha Mae Johnson was the first of 305 women to enlist in the US Marine Corps on this day.

  • Hurricane Charley hit Punta Gorda Florida with 150-mile-per-hour (240 kilometer-per-hour) winds. (2004) Charley, a Category 4 hurricane, was the strongest to hit land in the US since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The storm killed 10 people and caused $15.4 billion US Dollars in damage — the second costliest storm in US history at that time.

  • The astronauts from the Apollo 11 mission were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (1969) After being released from three weeks of quarantine, the astronauts headed to a dinner in Los Angeles where US President Richard Nixon presented the awards.

  • Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) was founded. (1918) The company, which started out building BMW engines for aircraft, is best known today for luxury vehicles and motorcycles.

  • English movie director Alfred Hitchcock was born. (1899) Hitchcock is perhaps best known for his suspense films Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho.

Discussion Comments

August 13 is also the birth date of my favorite Indian actress -- Sridevi. She was born on August 13, 1963. She was and still is a huge star in India, both in the South and the North. She was the number one actress in the Bollywood industry in the 1980s. She made a comeback to cinema last year and is as popular as ever! I just love her!

I live in Memphis and looking at the city now, it's hard to imagine that at one point, this city was completely abandoned and empty because of yellow fever.

Alfred Hitchcock is best known for the films mentioned here, but he actually made more than fifty films. A lot of them were short films and he also has a few TV serials. But his horror/suspense films made the most impact.

My favorite Alfred Hitchcock film is Psycho. It's a psychological thriller that has attained cult status. The famous scene from the movie is when the leading actress is murdered in the shower. There are many films that copied scenes from Psycho.

Alfred Hitchcock attempted things in cinema that no one else had the courage to do in those years. Isn't it amazing that we can watch his movies after fifty years and still enjoy it as much?

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