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What's the context? series

What’s the context? 25 June 1950: outbreak of the Korean War

Ernest Bevin an elderly Prime Minister posing for a picture in front of a book case

The outbreak of the Korean War on 25 June 1950 caught Western governments by surprise, despite warning signs. Western strategists had assumed that North Korea was a Soviet puppet, and that no one wanted a war.

What’s the Context? Sentencing of atomic spy Klaus Fuchs, 1 March 1950

Klaus Fuchs portrait

The conviction of atomic scientist Klaus Fuchs on 1 March 1950 for spying for the Soviet Union put a strain on Anglo-American nuclear co-operation, in the context of a broader divergence of views on foreign policy priorities.

What’s the context? The release of Nelson Mandela, 11 February 1990

Mandela

Nelson Mandela’s release on 11 February 1990, after 27 years in jail, symbolised the end of apartheid in South Africa. It was a tribute to one man’s endurance. It was also the result of decades of political, economic and social change that had brought apartheid to the brink of destruction.

What’s the context? Polish cryptologists reveal they have cracked the Enigma code, 26 July 1939

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The three Polish codebreakers Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski

On 26 July 1939, in a forest near Warsaw, Polish code breakers told their British colleagues how they had cracked the German Enigma code. As war against Nazi Germany approached, the meeting symbolised the importance of political, as well as intelligence co-operation in the struggle ahead.

What’s the context? 4 April 1949: signature of the North Atlantic Treaty

Map of the world with NATO member countries highlighted, which are the 29 countries of NATO

NATO remains the cornerstone of Western security. But as it celebrates its 70th birthday, it is worth remembering the part played in the negotiations by other regions such as Latin America, Africa and the Asia-Pacific.

Soviet forces invade Czechoslovakia, 20 to 21 August 1968

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FOTO:FORTEPAN / Konok Tamás id

This is not the action of strong ‘expansionist’ leaders, but of frightened men reacting indecisively to a situation which they judged to be crucially dangerous, but with which they did not know how to deal.[i] On the night of Tuesday, …

What’s the context? George Brown resigns as Foreign Secretary, 15 March 1968

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Portrait of George Brown looking down

Recalling those days one is not only impressed, but almost oppressed, with the sense of how many issues we were faced with and had to handle at the same time.[i] When George Brown stormed out of Downing St in the …

What’s the context? The resignation of Anthony Eden, 20 February 1938

On Sunday, 20 February 1938, after two days of fraught Cabinet discussion, Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden told Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain that he must resign rather than agree to enter into early talks with the Italian government led by Mussolini. …

What’s the Context? 20 December 1917: formation of the Cheka, the first Soviet security and intelligence agency

‘The Soviets would not last two days without the activities of the Cheka, but with the Cheka, the Soviet State was safe’: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Defending the Revolution Before the October Revolution in 1917 that put the Bolsheviks in power …