The History Portal

Historia by Nikolaos Gyzis

Historia by Nikolaos Gyzis


History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning 'inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation') is the study of the past. Events occurring before the invention of writing systems are considered prehistory. "History" 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 focus on history are called historians. The historian's role is to place the past in context, using sources from moments and events, and filling in the gaps to the best of their ability. Written documents are not the only sources historians use to develop their understanding of the past. They also use material objects, oral accounts, ecological markers, art, and artifacts as historical sources.

History also includes the academic discipline which uses narrative to describe, examine, question, and analyze a sequence of past events, investigate the patterns of cause and effect that are related to them. Historians seek to understand and represent the past through narratives. They often debate which narrative best explains an event, as well as the significance of different causes and effects. Historians also 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. History differs from myth in that it is supported by evidence. However, 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 thematic elements of historical investigation. History is often taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.

Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian is often considered (within the Western tradition) to be the "father of history," or, by some, the "father of lies." Along with his contemporary Thucydides, he 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 have survived.

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The history of Poland from 1945 to 1989 spans the period of communist rule imposed over Poland after the end of World War II. These years, while featuring general industrialization, urbanization and many improvements in the standard of living,[a1] were marred by early Stalinist repressions, social unrest, political strife and severe economic difficulties.

Near the end of World War II, the advancing Soviet Red Army, along with the Polish Armed Forces in the East, pushed out the Nazi German forces from occupied Poland. In February 1945, the Yalta Conference sanctioned the formation of a provisional government of Poland from a compromise coalition, until postwar elections. Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, manipulated the implementation of that ruling. A practically communist-controlled Provisional Government of National Unity was formed in Warsaw by ignoring the Polish government-in-exile based in London since 1940. Read more...

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Stroop Report - Warsaw Ghetto Uprising 06b.jpg

Jews captured by SS and SD troops during the suppression of the Warsaw ghetto uprising are forced to leave their shelter and march to the Umschlagplatz, for deportation, at gunpoint. Taken by Jürgen Stroop, this photograph is one of the most famous of World War II; the boy's identity is unknown, but he may be Tsvi C. Nussbaum, who survived the war.

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Pilecki in a colorized pre-1939 photo

Witold Pilecki (13 May 1901 – 25 May 1948; Polish pronunciation: [ˈvitɔlt piˈlɛt͡skʲi]; codenames Roman Jezierski, Tomasz Serafiński, Druh, Witold) was a Polish cavalry officer, intelligence agent, and resistance leader. He served as a cavalry officer in the Polish Army in the Polish–Soviet War and World War II. Pilecki was also a co-founder of the Secret Polish Army resistance group and later a member of the Home Army (Armia Krajowa). He was the author of Witold's Report, the first comprehensive intelligence report on the atrocities committed at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Pilecki was a Catholic and a Polish patriot who viewed his struggle as a moral and patriotic duty.

During World War II, Pilecki volunteered for a Polish resistance operation that involved being imprisoned in the Auschwitz concentration camp in order to gather intelligence. At Auschwitz, he organized a resistance movement within the camp which eventually numbered in the hundreds, and secretly sent messages to the Western Allies detailing Nazi atrocities at the camp. He escaped in April 1943 after nearly 2½ years of imprisonment. Pilecki later fought in the Warsaw Uprising from August to October 1944. He remained loyal to the London-based Polish government-in-exile after the communist takeover of Poland. In 1947, he was arrested by the secret police on charges of working for "foreign imperialism" (referring to his work for the government-in-exile). Pilecki was executed after a show trial in 1948. The story of Pilecki's mission in Auschwitz was told in Fighting Auschwitz (1975) by emigre Polish historian Józef Garliński, himself a former Auschwitz inmate. Information about his exploits and fate was suppressed by Poland's communist regime until democracy returned to Poland in 1989. Pilecki's story did not become widely known until after the 1990s. Read more...

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July 7

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I hate this fast growing tendency to chain men to machines in big factories and deprive them of all joy in their efforts — the plan will lead to cheap men and cheap products.

— Richard Wagner, 19th century German composer

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