1944 – Anne Frank and her family are arrested by the Nazis

Anne Frank is perhaps best known for the posthumous publication of her diaries. In them, she recounts how, along with her parents and older sister, she hid in a back room of her father’s office block for two years from 1942, after the Nazi invasion of Holland. During this time, they were joined by four other Jews, also in hiding from the Nazis. Conditions were cramped and food was scarce, leading to occasional outbursts of ill-temper. On the whole, though, the eight people showed remarkable fortitude and self-control, at least as depicted in Anne’s diary.

Only six people outside of it knew of the hiding place: four of Otto Frank’s employees, the spouse of one employee and the father of another. It is believed that none of these six were responsible for the tip off that led to a raid by Nazi forces on August 2, 1944. Whoever was responsible, the results were tragic: all eight were arrested along with two of the conspirators who had helped them, and all but Otto would die in the camps, mere weeks before the Allied forces liberated them.

Anne’s diary was saved from the Nazis, and later published around the world under the title “Diary of a Young Girl.”. It is widely regarded as a moving tale of the human spirit, and also a stark caution regarding fascism. While Holocaust deniers have decried it as a forgery, its authenticity has been repeatedly proven – indeed, one of the Nazi officers who participated in the arrest has verified many of the details in it.

Referenced in:

Anne – Discus
Dear Anne – Ryan Adams
So Fresh, So Clean – Oukast
Oh Comely – Neutral Milk Hotel

1944 – The D-Day landings at Normandy

Code-named Operation Neptune, the D-Day landings took place along a 50 mile stretch of Normandy beach. 156,000 Allied troops – primarily Americans and British, but also Commonwealth and Free European forces – landed across five beaches code-named Gold, Juno, Omaha, Sword and Utah. It was the largest amphibious operation in history, and took the Nazi forces in Normandy almost entirely by surprise, beginning the rollback of German forces in Europe.

It was also only a part of Operation Overlord, which featured co-ordinated airborne assaults, two separate deception operations aimed to distract from it, and a range of additional actions by the French Resistance. The operation was largely successful, opening a Western front in Europe, and sealing the end of the Nazi occupation of France.

Referenced in:

The Longest Day — Iron Maiden
Say Goodbye to it All — Chris de Burgh
To Be Or Not Be (The Hitler Rap) — Mel Brooks

1944 – Peter Allen is born Peter George Woolnough

Born in Tenterfield, in country New South Wales, Peter George Woolnough was performing from an early age. In the 1960’s, he and a friend named Chris Bell formed an ensemble called ‘The Allen Brothers’, and became a reasonably popular cabaret act both live and on television.

Peter Allen, as he now called himself, got his start when he joined a tour with Judy Garland in the late Sixties. In 1971, he began recording as a solo artist, and over the next two decades, had a number of hits, notably “I Go To Rio”, “Arthur’s Theme (The Best That You Can Do)” (which he cowrote and shared in the Oscar for) and “I Still Call AUstralia Home”. A musical retelling of his life story, “The Boy From Oz”, starring Hugh Jackman, was a Broadway hit in 2003 and 2004, with Jackman winning a Tony for his performance.

Referenced in:
Tenterfield Saddler — Peter Allen

1944 — Glenn Miller disappears

Glenn Miller was one of the most famous band leaders of the Big Band era. His Glenn Miller Orchestra was one of the best known and most popular bands of its time, and Miller was the lead singer, trombonist and principal songwriter for it. Among his songs are such standards as “In the Mood”, “Moonlight Serenade”, “Pennsylvania 6-5000” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo”.

A staunch patriot, Miller attempted to join the US Navy in 1942, but was rejected for being too old (he was 38 at the time). The Air Force proved more welcoming, and although he saw no active duty, Miller was highly active in the Army Air Force Band, quickly becoming its bandleader and performing a weekly radio broadcast as both DJ and leader of the house band.

In 1944, the Army Air Force Band, now a 50 piece ensemble, went to England, where they performed more than 800 engagements over the course of the second half of 1944. Miller also recorded songs in German that were broadcast to Nazi-held regions as propaganda. On the night he disappeared, Miller was flying to the recently-liberated Paris to play for Allied troops there. His plane was lost with all hands as it crossed the English Channel. No trace of the plane or its passengers was ever found. The Glenn Miller Orchestra carries on his Miller’s name to this day.

Referenced in:

Green Onions — The Blues Brothers