Welcome to This Day in Today,
My name is Tom Keefe, and I’m the Babbling Professor!
On this day, April 27, 1987, the Reagan Administration declared Austrian President Kurt Waldheim persona non-grata and barred his entry to the United States. The US Justice Department alleged Waldheim had aided in the deportation and execution of thousands of Jews and others in his capacity as a German Army officer during World War II.
Ironically, he had already served post-WWII as the 4th Secretary-General of the United Nations and dealt with numerous international humanitarian crises. In his 1985 autobiography, he lied about his service in the Germany army. As a result, of his leadership of the UN and his minimalization and lies of his German service, Waldheim was elected President of Austria in 1986. He was barred from the US in 1987, and he did not seek re-election in 1992.
Two days after Waldheim death in 2007, the Austrian press published a post-humous apology written by Waldheim for his “mistakes.” A later independent investigation found no evidence of any personal involvement by Waldheim in war crimes. Although the committee cited evidence that Waldheim must have known about war crimes occurring.
On this day, April 27, 1989, the April 27th Demonstrations occurred throughout the major cities in China. The demonstrations were massive student marches coinciding with the infamous Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989. The students were protesting in response to the April 26 Editorial published by the People’s Daily. The editorial asserted that the student movement was anti-party and contributed to a sense of chaos and destabilization. The content of the editorial incited the largest student protest of the movement thus far in Beijing: between 50–200,000 students marched through the streets of Beijing before finally breaking through police lines into Tiananmen Square.
On this day, April 27, 1994, the 1994 Elections occurred in South Africa. The elections were the first in which citizens of all races were allowed to vote under the principle of universal adult suffrage. The election was conducted under the direction of the Independent Electoral Commission and marked the culmination of the four-year process that ended apartheid. Millions and millions of black South Africans waited in lines over a three-day voting period. Altogether 19,726,579 votes were counted. As widely expected, the African National Congress (ANC), whose slate incorporated the labor confederation and the South African Communist Party, together the slate won a sweeping victory, taking 62 percent of the vote, just short of the two-thirds majority required to unilaterally amend the Interim Constitution. As required by that document, the ANC formed a Government of National Unity, the two other parties that had won more than 20 seats in the National Assembly, the Inkatha Freedom Party as well as white Afrikaner National Party. The new National Assembly’s first act was to elect Nelson Mandela as President.
The date, April 27th is now a public holiday in South Africa, Freedom Day.
The next year, with international sanctions now lifted, The Rugby World Cup became the first major sporting event to take place in South Africa following the end of apartheid. It was also the first World Cup in which South Africa was allowed to compete; And the South African Springbok team, under the leadership of team captain Francois Pienaar won… they won it all. During the remarkable post-match presentation ceremony Nelson Mandela, wearing a Springbok jersey bearing Francois Pienaar’s number, presented him with the Webb Ellis Cup. During his acceptance speech, Pienaar made it clear that the team had won the trophy not just for the 60,000 fans at Ellis Park, but also for all 43,000,000 South Africans.
That’s all for today’s segment of This Day in Today, and remember,
Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.
Thank you for listening!