We misunderstand the word "gauleiter"

But it’s not. The word really comes from the Third Reich.
However, the Gauleiter is the head of the NSDAP regional organization.

Something like the first secretary of the regional party committee in the USSR. For example, the Berlin Gauleiter was Joseph Goebbels.

Probably, the substitution of concepts occurred in the Soviet era. The head of the occupation administration in the Ukrainian lands Erich Koch was most often called the Gauleiter of Ukraine in the literature. He was not a Gauleiter, but in East Prussia. And in Ukraine he held the position of Reichskommissar (there were no “Gauleiters of Ukraine” in principle).

Cover photo: Reichsminister Wilhelm Frick, Reichsfuehrer Heinrich Himmler and Gauleiter Erich Koch (third from left) await Hitler’s visit. Memelland (modern Klaipeda region, Lithuania). March 1939 Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-E04039

The Last Padishah and the Last Caliph. How the Ottoman Empire faded into oblivion

On November 1, 1922, the history of the Ottoman Empire, which lasted six centuries, came to an end. The throne was left by the last, 36th sultan (padishah) Mehmed VI Vagideddin.
You won’t envy him at all — Mehmed became Sultan in 1918, at the end of the First World War, which the Turks lost. In the following years, nothing good happened in the country: a shameful peace, the invasion of foreign armies, the occupation. It was not the sultan who could cope with these problems, but the military Mustafa Kemal, the future Ataturk.
In 1922, there was a dual power in the Ottoman Empire: in Istanbul — the court and government of the Sultan, in Angora (Ankara) — the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNST) headed by Kemal. The latter have incomparably greater authority and receive international recognition as a legitimate Turkish government.
On November 1, the GNST voted to abolish the sultanate. Kemal, speaking at the Assembly that day, did not restrain his expressions regarding Mehmed — he called him a heartless creature and a vile executioner who tried to destroy the country on the orders of foreign states.
Mehmed did not resist and admitted that he was no longer a padishah. What an hour of wine from the homeland, having lost at the palace of Eldiz. But the rebuking in Istanbul became unsafe for him, and the ex-sultan asked the English to bring yoga from the country. On November 17, accompanied by British General Charles Harington, Mehmed left the palace and boarded a Royal Navy ship bound for Malta. The family did not know about this and remained in the palace. The last padishah settled in Italy, where he died in 1926.
From the 16th century, the Ottoman sultans also bore the religious title of caliph — the leader of all Muslims. On November 1, 1922, the caliphate was not abolished, but separated from the sultanate. Abdul-Mejid II, the cousin of Mehmed, who was considered his heir to the throne, was soon appointed caliph. It was a ceremonial position that did not affect anything. In 1924, already in the Republic of Turkey, the caliphate was also abolished. All representatives of the Ottoman dynasty (in particular the Mehmed family, who remained in Istanbul) had to leave the country.

What was the origin of Freddie Mercury?

Probably everyone who has seen Queen’s vocalist Freddie Mercury was interested in the question: where are his roots from? His band is British, but the swarthy singer does not look like a typical Englishman.

The musician’s real name is Farrukh Bulsara.

He was born in 1946 in Zanzibar. Then on this island off the African coast there was a sultanate of the same name under the British protectorate. Many immigrants from India traditionally lived there. In particular, Farrukh’s parents.

Actually, they were Parsis. They are descendants of Iranians who, after the Arab conquest of Persia in the 7th century, did not want to accept Islam and preserved their traditional faith – Zoroastrianism. They moved to the territory of the present state of Gujarat in western India.

Parsis. India, 1870. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Farrukh’s parents came from Gujarat. The surname Bulsara was formed from the name of the Indian city where their family lived – Bulsar (now Valsad).

The name Farrukh in Farsi means “happy”. In general, the Parsis have forgotten their ancestral language and speak one of the Indian languages – Gujarati. But their religious literature is written in ancient Iranian languages – Avestan and Pahlavi.

From Gujarat, the Parsis moved to different Indian states. Most of all – to Maharashtra with the center in Bombay (now Mumbai). Farrukh spent his childhood in Panchganj in Maharashtra, where his aunt and grandfather lived. He went to school there, became interested in rock and roll, formed his first teenage band and started calling himself Freddie.

Фаррух Бульсара в Індії
Freddie Mercury with a school band. India, early 1960s. Source: Mrs Bulsara

At the age of 16, Bulsara returned to Zanzibar. But not for long: the revolution began there, which was accompanied by bloody pogroms of immigrants from India. And the whole family moved to London in 1964. Where six years later Freddie would join the band Smile, which would later be renamed Queen.

When Freddie Mercury died in London in 1991, his funeral was held according to the Zoroastrian rite. Actually, he left this religion in adulthood, but his parents insisted on the ceremony.

Only the burial itself was impossible according to the Zoroastrian tradition. It involves the exposure of the body in a specially designated place (or the so-called “tower of silence”), where the soft tissues are eaten by birds or dogs (and the bones that remain are then put in an urn). According to British law, there are only two ways of burial – in the ground or cremation. And the musician’s parents were forced to agree to the second option.

Today there are very few Parsis left in the world – about one hundred thousand. Most of them live in Mumbai. In Iran, there are small communities of Zoroastrians who survived centuries of persecution.

Літній парс
Літній парс продає зороастрійську символіку, наші дні. Джерело: Scott Edmunds / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Despite the small number of Parsis, they occupy a prominent place in the culture, business and politics of India. Among them was, for example, Jamsheti Tata – the founder of Tata, the Indian car giant. But the most famous Parsi of all time is, of course, Freddie Mercury.

Seven burials of Columbus

Christopher Columbus is perhaps the “record holder” among prominent people for the number of reburials. Here is a list of places where the sailor’s remains are believed to have been.

1. Monastery in Valladolid, then the capital of Spain. It was here that Columbus died on May 20, 1506.

2. Monastery of Santa Maria de las Cuevas (literally Our Lady of the Caves) in Seville, Spain. The body was moved here in 1509 at the request of Columbus’ son Diego.

3. Cathedral of Seville. The pioneer was reburied here in 1513.

4. Santo Domingo, the island of Hispaniola (now the island of Haiti, the territory of the Dominican Republic). The remains of Christopher and Diego were brought here around 1536. Probably, this was the fulfillment of the will of the elder Columbus, who asked to be buried in the New World (which he himself considered to be India). Diego served as governor here for some time and founded the Alcazar de Colon estate.

5. Havana, Cuba. The bones of Columbus were allegedly sent here at the end of the 18th century, after the French took possession of Santo Domingo (and Cuba remained Spanish).

6. Cathedral of Seville. The remains returned to Spain after Cuba became independent in 1898. They are still there.

But the linear development of this story stopped in 1877. Then, during the renovation of the cathedral in Santo Domingo, they found a box with the bones of an arm and a leg. An inscription on it claimed that these were the remains of Columbus. Could there have been a mix-up or a deliberate substitution at one time that resulted in the wrong remains being found in Havana? It is possible.

These bones were in the Cathedral of Santo Domingo until 1992, when they were moved to the Columbus Lighthouse – a memorial built for the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America.

The bones from Seville were submitted for DNA analysis in the 2000s, comparing them with the remains of Columbus’ brother. Scientists came to the conclusion that these two people were born from the same mother – that is, this is a pioneer. At the same time, they say that the skeleton belonged to a thin man of 45 years old, you like Columbus, as far as is known, had a strong build and lived for more than 60 years.

In Santo Domingo, they continue to believe that they are the real bones of Columbus, but they do not agree to give them for analysis.

Cover photo: Columbus’ sarcophagus in Seville. Source: Vvlasenko / CC BY-SA 3.0