Five People Born on April 20

Today is April 20, 2010 and the 110th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar.  There are 255 days left in the year 2010. According the Mayan calendar, there are 976 days till the end of the current cycle.  On this date, in 1926, Warner Brothers and Western Electric add sound to film, thus ending the silent film era.  Here are five people born on this day.

Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)
No, this isn’t President Obama.  This is the real Hitler, whom the horror stories have grown around. Adolf Hitler was actually an Austrian, not a German who was the leader of the National Socialist (also called Nazi) Party (from 1920-1921) and chancellor (Kanzler) and Führer (which means leader) of Germany (1933–1945). He was chancellor from January 30, 1933, and, after President Paul von Hindenburg’s death, assumed the twin titles of Führer and chancellor (August 2, 1934).  Hitler rose to power following Germany’s defeat in World War One, in which he was a veteran.  He stayed in the army for some time after, but became involved in politics.  He was placed in charge of propaganda.  Resentment at the loss of the war and the severity of the peace terms added to the economic woes and brought widespread discontent. This was especially sharp in Bavaria, due to its traditional separatism and the region’s popular dislike of the republican government in Berlin. In March 1920 a coup d’état by a few army officers attempted in vain to establish a right-wing government.  Hitler’s ideas included inequality among races, nations, and individuals as part of an unchangeable natural order that exalted the “Aryan race” as the creative element of mankind. According to Hitler, the natural unit of mankind was the Volk (“the people”), of which the German people was the greatest. Moreover, he believed that the state existed to serve the Volk—a mission that to him the Weimar German Republic betrayed. All morality and truth were judged by this criterion: whether it was in accordance with the interest and preservation of the Volk. Parliamentary democratic government stood doubly condemned. It assumed the equality of individuals that for Hitler did not exist and supposed that what was in the interests of the Volk could be decided by parliamentary procedures. Instead, Hitler argued that the unity of the Volk would find its incarnation in the Führer, endowed with perfect authority. Below the Führer the party was drawn from the Volk and was in turn its safeguard.  Hitler led his country into which would become World War 2.  He did this by breaking Germany’s portion of the Treaty of Versailles, attacking Poland and France.  Russia, who originally was allied with Germany on the attack of Poland, soon found itself betrayed by Hitler and went to war.  England, who was not a part of Hitler’s war plan ended up getting involved and the war spread into Africa, Asia, and then to the United States.  In the meantime, Hitler started his extermination of undesirables to the Aryan race.  These included: homosexuals, gypsies, the deformed, the mentally challenged, and Jews.  Millions were killed in what he referred to as the “Final Solution”.  In the end, the Nazis were scattered throughout the world and hunted down.  Hitler met his end in a bunker in Germany where he committed suicide with his new wife, Eva Braun.  He was 56.

Muhammad (571-632)
This is the founder of the religion of Islam and is recognized as the prophet and messenger of God.  Mualims also believe that Muhammad was the last and greatest prophet, as taught by the Qur’an.  Born in Mecca, he was orphaned at an early age and brought up by his uncle.  He worked as a merchant and a shepherd before marrying at the age of 25.  He later left Mecca to go into the wilderness, during the month of Ramadan, to a cave to meditate and contemplate and it was here, at age 40, that he had his first revelation from God.  It is important to note, that the God of Muhammad, sometimes referred to as Allah, is the same God as the Christian and Jewish religions.  Muslims recognize the prophets – of whom they consider Jesus as a prophet – of these religions, as well.  At first, when he started preaching, Muhammad was persecuted by some of the tribes in his region, but as his teachings grew, so did his followers. He rose to be a military general, who ended up uniting the tribes around Mecca, but in 632, he fell ill and died.  By this time, most of the Arabian Peninsula had converted to Islam.  The revelations that he received from God, throughout his life, are written in the holy book, the Qur’an.  While Islam has been demonized by the Christian religion since the time of the Crusades, it has grown into one of the world’s leading religions.

Harold Lloyd (1893-1971)
This U.S. motion-picture comedian who was the highest paid star of the 1920s and one of the cinema’s most popular personalities. Lloyd settled in San Diego, Calif., where in 1913 he started playing minor parts in one-reel comedies. He mastered the art of the comic chase in the short time he was a member of Mack Sennett’s Keystone comedy troupe. In 1915 Lloyd joined the new acting company formed by Hal Roach, a former actor who had turned producer. During this period he experimented with a comic character, the bewhiskered Willie Work. The most consistently successful of his early films, however, were those of the Lonesome Luke series. Beginning with Just Nuts (1915), Luke quickly became a popular U.S. screen character.By 1918 the figure of the ordinary white-faced man in round glasses had replaced Luke as Lloyd’s screen trademark. He developed his humour from plot and situation and was the first comedian to use physical danger as a source of laughter. Lloyd performed his own stunts and was known as the screen’s most daring comedian. In Safety Last (1923), an outstanding success, he hung from the hands of a clock several stories above a city street; in Girl Shy (1924) he took a thrilling ride atop a runaway streetcar; in The Freshman (1925), one of the most successful of all silent pictures, he stood in for the football tackling dummy.  Lloyd’s peak of popularity was reached during the period of silent films, when emphasis was on visual rather than verbal humour, although he made many films after the coming of sound. His last was Mad Wednesday (1947). He was honoured with a special Academy Award in 1952 for his contribution to motion-picture comedy. In 1962 Lloyd released Harold Lloyd’s World of Comedy, a compilation of scenes from his old movies, and Harold Lloyd’s Funny Side of Life. The reception given to both demonstrated the timelessness of Lloyd’s silent comedy.
Napoleon III(1808-1873)
No, not THAT Napoleon, but his nephew.  This one kept his hand out of his coat flap.  However, he is just as known for his military career and was the leader of the second French Republic.  Due to some political turmoil during his reign, Napoleon III is the only leader of France to hold both the title of President and being the last monarch.  He is perhaps best-known for his renovation of the city of Paris, France’s participation in the Crimean War, the Franco-Mexican War (where we get Cinco de Mayo), the Taiping Rebellion, and the 1866 campaign of Korea.  It is because of Napoleon III that the French found themselves in Indochina, which would eventually lead America into the Vietnam War.  Napoleon III had a tendency to be on the wrong side in wars.  For instance, he supported the Confederates during the American Civil War and he didn’t side with the Prussians as they overtook most of Europe.  This would lead to his defeat and capture by the Prussians in the Battle of Sedan in 1870.  He was deposed of his monarchy two days later.  He went into exile in England, where he would die of a bladder stone three years later.

Ronald Speirs (1920-2007)
If you’ve ever seen Band of Brothers, the mini-series based upon the book of the same name by Stephen Ambrose, you know who Ronald Speirs is.  This guy is the epitome of the dark action hero.  Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, but a citizen of the United States, Speirs was just 21 years old when World War 2 broke out in the United States.  He joined the 101st Airborne and was originally a platoon leader with D Company.  He parachuted into Normandy on D-Day (June 6, 1944) and fought at the Brecourt Manor assault where he single-handedly took out the fourth howitzer.  This attack is still used as a training model for our special forces troops.  He was tough as nails and cold as ice.  It is thought that he offered German prisoners cigarettes after D-Day and then shot the group of 20 of them.  While this may or not be true, it is known that Speirs shot and killed one of his sergeants for not following orders during another attack.  Speirs went onto fight in the Battle of Bastogne (also called the Battle of the Bulge), where he was ordered to take over command of Easy Company during the assault on the city of Foy.  In this battle, Speirs needed to unite two groups of American soldiers.  Not regarding his own safety, he ran right through the German line, under heavy fire, gave the information to the cut-off GIs – then ran back through the German lines!  Of all the leaders of Easy Company, Speirs commanded them for the remainder of the war.  Colonel Richard Winters, his commanding officer, stated that he was the finest soldier that he ever knew.  It was also mentioned that Speirs worked hard on getting his reputation as a killer and would sometimes kill for simply the shock value.  It is thought that today, Speirs would have been court-martialed for some of his actions, but at the time, his worth as a combat commander was too important to lose.  After World War 2, Speirs remained in the army and fought again during Korea.  He learned to speak Russian and ended up being the Governor of the American Forces at Spandau Prison in Berlin where Nazi war criminals were housed.  He rarely attended Easy Company reunions and died at his home in Montana at the age of 86.