1862 Julius Rosenwald was born.
1881 Cecil B. DeMille was born.
7 948 Mrs. Kasenkina jumped from a window to escape deportation.
1961 The Berlin wall was built. (See November 20th entry.)
Dictatorships are sometimes like long-winded speakers. They prefer a captive audience. On this day, in 1961, Communist East Germany literally created a captive audience. Overnight, the Communist government put up a wall sealing off East Berlin from West Berlin. The purpose was obviously to keep East Germans from leaving. But some brave people leapt to their freedom over the heavily fortified barricade. Like the Walls of Jericho, in 1989, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. The city once again became whole, and its people were free to choose where they lived.
The struggle for personal freedom has many times meant jumping over walls to escape oppression. Not all attempts were successful. Mrs. Olga Kasenkina had been sent to America to teach Soviet diplomats’ children in New York City. Then she was ordered to return home. As she was being deported on this day in 1948, she broke away from consulate officials and leapt through a window at the Soviet embassy. Rather than spending her life in Stalinist Russia, she chose freedom at all costs. This happened long before a rash of defectors became an international embarrassment for Soviet Russia and other socialist nations.
Julius Rosenwald was born on this day in 1862, in Springfield, Illinois. His name may not mean much to you, but his mail-order business helped build a growing nation. Rosenwald’s Sears, Roebuck, and Company brought the luxuries of civilization to remote settlements when America’s west was young. He amassed a fortune as he built his company into a huge retail institution. With his goals achieved, Rosenwald started sharing his success with the nation. He became a great philanthropist in his later years.
Cecil B. DeMille was born on this day in 1881, in Ashfield, Massachusetts. Real life has always been hard put to equal the sheer spectacle of a DeMille production such as the Ben Hur or The Ten Commandments. Maybe life would be a lot more interesting if it could be staged by a Cecil B. DeMille, but who has that kind of budget?