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history

The Dutch Queen Juliana signs the document transferring sovereignty to the United States of Indonesia in The Hague,December 27, 1949.
Information Ministry / Republic of Indoneisa (Public Domain)

World War II left the Dutch Empire in flux.

Queen Wilhelmina fled to London, and Japanese occupation of Southeast Asia cut the Netherlands off from the Dutch East Indies, an expansive colony stretching from the tip of mainland Asia to the northern edge of Australia.

Rebecca Cruise and Brian Hardzinski discuss Taiwan’s election of its first female president, and the outgoing leader’s visit to a small group of islands in the South China Sea. Both issues are causing problems with mainland China.

Then, a conversation with New York University historian Edward Berenson about the evolution of French jazz music during World War I and World War II, Josephine Baker, and the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty.

Craftsmen in Paris work on the construction of the Statue of Liberty.
National Park Service

In 1777, a 19-year-old French aristocrat arrived on the eastern shores of an infant nation and forever changed the course of United States history. Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette received a commission as a major general in the Continental Army, and played a key military role in battles at Brandywine, in Rhode Island, and at the eventual British surrender at Yorktown. His participation in the American Revolution entrenched France’s status as the oldest U.S. ally.

Cast of "The Blacksmith's Daughter," a production of the Jewish Literary and Dramatic Club, 1927.
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Understandably, modern Jewish history revolves around the Holocaust – the systematic execution of 6 million Jews by the Nazi regime during World War II that also led to the resettlement of millions more trying to escape persecution.

Here & Now is marking the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act by listening to some of the voices of the time, especially President Lyndon Johnson, who made civil rights a priority of his administration, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

After nine African-Americans were gunned down in their Charleston church last month, the South Carolina legislature voted to take down the Confederate flag that had flown at the statehouse for decades.

Journalist Christopher Dickey, whose own family demonstrates the complicated history of the Civil War, has written a new book (excerpt below) that looks at slavery through the eyes of a British agent who served in South Carolina before and during the war.

This week, NPR reported that the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to live up to a promise to contact 4,000 veterans who were exposed to mustard gas in secret military experiments. In 1993, the VA promised it would reach out to each of those veterans to let them know that they were eligible for disability benefits. Instead, over the past 20 years, the VA reached out to only 610.

As politicians across the South are stepping in to call for the removal of the Confederate battle flag and other symbols of the Confederacy, big businesses are also joining the fray. Wal-Mart, eBay, Amazon and others have promised to pull merchandise tied to the flag, in some cases adding strong arguments against the products.

Today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, which brought down Napoleon Bonaparte for good.

But even with 200 years perspective, historians disagree about Napoleon’s legacy. Some see him as a tyrant determined to build an empire at all costs. Others give him credit for introducing ideals such as public education and meritocracy that form the basis of modern society.

For some time, researchers suspected that the São José-Paquete de Africa, a Portuguese slave ship, was lost in 1794 off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. But only now, after years of painstaking work, have they finally confirmed it.

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