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Historia, 1892 painting by Nikolaos Gyzis

History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning "inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past as it is described in written documents. Events occurring before written record are considered prehistory. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians.

History can also refer to the academic discipline which uses a narrative to examine and analyse a sequence of past events, and objectively determine the patterns of cause and effect that determine them. Historians sometimes debate the nature of history and its usefulness by discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present.

Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur), are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends, because they do not show the "disinterested investigation" required of the discipline of history. Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian is considered within the Western tradition to be the "father of history", and, along with his contemporary Thucydides, helped form the foundations for the modern study of human history. Their works continue to be read today, and the gap between the culture-focused Herodotus and the military-focused Thucydides remains a point of contention or approach in modern historical writing. In East Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals was known to be compiled from as early as 722 BC although only 2nd-century BC texts survived.

Ancient influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematical elements of historical investigation. Often history is taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.

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The German Empire of 1871–1918
The formal unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871 at the Versailles Palace's Hall of Mirrors in France. Princes of the German states gathered there to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as Emperor Wilhelm of the German Empire after the French capitulation in the Franco-Prussian War. Unofficially, the transition of most of the German-speaking populations into a federated organization of states occurred over nearly a century of experimentation. Unification exposed several glaring religious, linguistic, social, and cultural differences between and among the inhabitants of the new nation, suggesting that 1871 only represents one moment in a continuum of the larger unification processes.

The model of diplomatic spheres of influence resulting from the Congress of Vienna in 1814–15 after the Napoleonic Wars endorsed Austrian dominance in Central Europe. However, the negotiators at Vienna took no account of Prussia's growing strength within and among the German states, failing to foresee that Prussia would challenge Austria for leadership within the German states. This German dualism presented two solutions to the problem of unification: Kleindeutsche Lösung, the small Germany solution (Germany without Austria), or Großdeutsche Lösung, greater Germany solution (Germany with Austria). Reaction to Danish and French nationalism provided foci for expressions of German unity. Military successes—especially Prussian ones—in three regional wars generated enthusiasm and pride that politicians could harness to promote unification. This experience echoed the memory of mutual accomplishment in the Napoleonic Wars, particularly in the War of Liberation of 1813–14. By establishing a Germany without Austria, the political and administrative unification in 1871 at least temporarily solved the problem of dualism.

Selected biography

Joel Brand
Joel Brand (April 25, 1906 – July 13, 1964) was a Hungarian sailor and odd-job man who became known for his role during the Holocaust in trying to save the Hungarian-Jewish community from deportation to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Described by historian Yehuda Bauer as a brave adventurer who felt at home in underground conspiracies and card-playing circles, Brand teamed up with fellow Zionists in Budapest to form the Aid and Rescue Committee, a group that helped Jewish refugees in Nazi-occupied Europe escape to the relative safety of Hungary, before the Germans invaded that country too in March 1944. Shortly after the invasion, Brand was asked by SS officer Adolf Eichmann to help broker a deal between the SS and the United States or Britain. Eichmann said he would release up to one million Hungarian Jews, if the Western Allies would supply Germany with 10,000 trucks and large quantities of soap, tea, and coffee.

The negotiations, described by The Times as one of the most loathsome stories of the war, became known as the "blood for goods" proposal. Nothing came of it and historians can only guess whether Eichmann's offer was genuine. There are theories that it was a trick intended to persuade the Jewish community to board the trains to Auschwitz thinking they were being resettled, or that it was a cover for high-ranking SS officials to negotiate a peace deal with the U.S. and Britain that excluded the Soviet Union and perhaps even Adolf Hitler himself.

Did you know...

Stalinizm - proces Kurii Krakowskiej (1953).jpg

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1863 Meeting of Settlers and Maoris at Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.jpg

An 1863 meeting between Maoris and settlers in Hawke's Bay Province, New Zealand. This was during the Invasion of the Waikato, and, although the Maoris and settlers in this region had always got along fairly well, the situation grew somewhat tense, and so this meeting was held to allow them to talk things over, and resulted in a reaffirmation of friendship and peace between the groups.

On this day

July 20: Independence Day in Colombia (1810)

Special Olympics athletes in 2013
Special Olympics athletes in 2013

Ibn Muqla (d. 940) · Miron Cristea (b. 1868)  · Chris Cornell (b. 1964)

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Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.

— Thomas Edison, scientist and inventor

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All Gizah Pyramids.jpg
Egyptology

"There is but little room for doubt that Egypt led the way in the creation of the earliest known group of civilizations which arose on both sides of the land bridge between Africa and Eurasia in the fourth millennium B.C."
James H. Breasted

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