History Book


NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, April 1st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book.

Seventy years ago this week, a dozen nations came together to create NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Also on this day in 2004, Google unveils a new service that changes computing again.

EICHER: But first, 95 years ago today, the “People’s Court” in Germany sentences a Nazi leader to five years in prison for treason. Here’s Paul Butler with the story.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: After a 24-day trial, on April 1st, 1924, a jury of judges convicts Adolf Hitler for his role in an attempted government coup. At the time he was the leader of The National Socialist German Workers’ Party.

The courtroom scene was recreated for the 2003 Canadian television drama: Rise of Evil.

RISE OF EVIL: Herr Hitler. Court finds you guilty of treason. You are hereby sentenced to a fine of 200 gold marks and five years in Landsberg prison. You will, you will, be eligible for parole in nine months [APPLAUSE].

While serving in Landsberg Prison, Hitler dictated his autobiography: Mein Kampf —in English, “My Struggle”—to fellow prisoners:

RISE OF EVIL: I’m writing my memoir. “Four And A Half Years Against Stupidity, Lies, And Cowardice.” An effective title don’t you think? Yes, it’s very good. You might consider shortening it a bit…

After serving less than nine months of his five-year sentence, Hitler was released from Landsberg Prison on December 20th, 1924. He quickly reorganized the paramilitary Nazi organization in to a political party. And within a decade, he became the chancellor of Germany.

Next, April 4th, 1949. In response to the growing threat of the USSR, representatives from 12 western nations gather in a Washington D.C. auditorium to sign the North Atlantic Treaty—creating NATO. U.S. President Harry S. Truman:

TRUMAN: For us, war is not inevitable. We do not believe that there are blind tides of history which sweep men one way or the other…Men with courage and vision can still determine their own destiny.

A key term in the treaty is Article 5. It dictates that each participating nation will consider an attack against one member state as an attack against them all.

TRUMAN: If there is anything certain today. If there is anything inevitable in the future. It is the will of the people of the world for freedom and peace.

The North Atlantic Treaty played a crucial role in winning the Cold War, though some wonder if the once strategic alliance is still necessary in light of a stronger, more unified Europe. NATO currently consists of 29 member countries with four additional nations seeking entry.

And finally, April 1st, 2004, 15 years ago today. Google announces a free email service called Gmail. Many tech reporters and bloggers think the press release is an “April Fools” joke—because the service sounds too good to be true. It includes inbox search capability, free access to premium services other email providers charge for, and the kicker, a gigabyte of free data space.

Due to technological restraints, Gmail begins small. Initial users have a limited number of invitations they can share with friends and family, keeping growth incremental but steady.

How can Google afford to offer Gmail for free? Company computers scan the emails and customize advertising messages.

Within days of Gmail’s initial launch, consumer advocacy groups demand the service be suspended. They called the scanning practice a bad precedent for privacy rights.

Now 15 years later, as Google products become even more integrated into everyday life, privacy concerns are still common.

PICHAI: For any of the services we offer, we go out of our way to protect their privacy and we give them transparency, choice, and control.

Current Google CEO Sundar Pichai appeared before the House Judiciary Committee last December:

PICHAI: One of the things that is important to us as a company, we have a stated mission of providing users with information, and we think it is within our duty to explore possibilities to give users access to information.

Today, more than one and a half billion users rely on Gmail for personal and business communication.

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.

MUSIC: [Email by Pet Shop Boys]


(Photo/Erik S. Lesser, The Washington Post)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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