Posts Tagged ‘history’

Nazi Germany in the autumn of 1938 was not strong enough to fight a European war let alone win it on military strength. But Hitler maneuvered France and Great Britain into giving in at a cost neither France nor England would have anticipated. On October 5, on the House of Commons Churchill struck an ominous warning, “We have sustained a total unmitigated defeat.” The House rocked by thunderous applause given to the Prime Minister Chamberlain for having brought the country from the brink of war could well dismiss him. His was a voice in the wilderness excluded from the Conservative government. Little did they know that ‘the agreement was the beginning of a war that would consume the whole world one way or other and strip the island to bare bones when it was over. It proved to be the case and all the colonies, crown jewels of Great Britain too dear to be held, one by one was let go.

The principal Allies in their own way suffered from bad blood. France under the Third Republic was a divided house with the Press adding to the internecine war of ideologies. Great Britain on the other hand was ruled by a conservative government without any real sympathies for Europe or understanding. They were for Appeasement.


Great Britain and France were bound by a treaty to come to the help of each other in case of a conflict against Germany. Behind France’s back Great Britain and Germany entered into a Naval Treaty in 1935.

France and Russia were in turn bound to come to the aid of Czechoslovakia. There was no access to France except through Poland and Roumania. Both small nations refused entry on the fear that Stalin would not go back once given permission. It had in a way limited France from rendering any help to the Czechs though a treat existed between them. Edouard Daladier, the French Premier was virulently attacked in the Press and by the elements on the Right for siding with Russia than with Germany. Such was the aversion against Russia that Germany could well exploit it. France left Russia in the lurch while signing the Munich pact. As Field-Marshal Keitel later told the Nuremburg tribunal,”The object of Munich was to get Russia out of Europe.” It was achieved at the cost of France. According to their longstanding pact Russia had proved a dependable ally during the WWI. On October 4 the Journal de Moscou echoed the nation’s feelings,”Who will believe again the word of France? Who will remain her ally? Why would the French government, which has just annulled of her own accord her pact with Czechoslovakia , respect the Franco-Soviet Pact?”

Yes the Czechs were not given a hearing while France and Great Britain sat down with Hitler and Mussolini to determine her fate.It would prove a costly blunder and morally repugnant.

In order to avert a wider conflict a short term gain could be too costly when there is a moral opprobrium attached to it. The French Premier knew what a disgrace it was and it rankled him. When he landed back in Paris he saw a tumultuous welcome along his route back to the capital he turned to an aide and said, ”The imbeciles-if they only knew what they were acclaiming!”

In Berlin the German generals could breathe a sigh of relief. They were not sure if they could have penetrated the Czech fortifications. In the west their Siegfried Line was mere skeleton,12 divisions most of them half-trained reserves. As General Jodl expressed doubts if they could have stood up to 100 well-trained divisions of the French Army. Even Hitler was astounded after inspection of the Czech fortifications to comment,”The plan prepared by the Czech was formidable. I now understand why my generals urged restraint.” ( In fact there was an assassination plan hatched by some top ranking generals on the life of Hitler but was shelved since Chamberlain capitulated to the demands of the führer that prevented a war.)

For France her slide into inescapable disaster was now irreversible. In deferring from a punitive action in 1936 when Germany reoccupied the Rhineland she let the German guns come within reach of Strasbourg. In sacrificing the Czechs at Munich in order to buy time gave Germany far greater military advantage than her short-term gains. No more she could encircle Germany or pin down the enemy from the rear. The loss of 35 divisions of the Czechs was grievous. It also gave the Skoda works to the Germans who doubled the output of armaments and planes and when the war came Germany was ready. .

In diplomatic circles France was distrusted by her remaining allies. Warsaw, Belgrade, Bucharest would work out their own alliances and worse still Russia realized how futile was to depend upon Great Britain and France. It would pave the way for Stalin to seek an alliance with Germany in her own fashion.

The Pact proved what it is to have the honor of France tied to an ally that was for Appeasement. Chamberlain was treating France as a client state and deceit of Great Britain would prove the epithet of ‘perfidious Albion’ as apt. Earlier Great Britain and the US had stood as guarantor (Treaty of Guarantee of July 1919) and forced Clemenceau to relent on his hardline on Ruhr. Great Britain’s parliament later approved the treaty on condition that the US also ratify it. In effect it was merely an eyewash for the US Senate never ratified it. (Their deceit would have fateful consequences. Germany, even if under Hitler , would never have risked invading France again if her Allies had proved steadfast and honourable.) The US senate’s rejection of the Treaty would change the German perception. Later when the WWII broke out it would prove to be infinitely more costly in American lives and materials than it would have been, had a President’s word been honoured in the first place by the Senate. Complacency of policy of Isolation had blinded the nation who had no choice but to be part of the wider arena of international politics.France felt shafted by both allies which truly was the case, as Britain and the US found restoration of the German market in post WWI would boost their own sluggish economies.
The most important lesson France needed to learn was “no great nation could , and with impunity, allow its destiny to be decided largely by another with different interests and outlook,…” In the 1960s we may see how far this lesson had impacted in de Gaulle’s foreign policy. Also policy of Israel hinge on this principle (ack. William L. Shirer-The Collapse of the The Third Republic/pub. Pan books)



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Ukraine—with its rich black soil that would help it become a major grain producer—was continually carved up by competing powers. As a result their nationalism has two sides. Janus-like one looks towards the past and the other to the east.
Let us trace its history in a few sentences. In the ninth century, Ukraine, known as Kievan Rus, was becoming the early seat of Slavic power and the newly adopted Orthodox religion. But Mongol invasions in the 13th century curtailed Kiev’s rise, with power eventually shifting north into Russia to present-day St. Petersburg and Moscow. In the 16th century major swaths of the country were under the control of Poland and Lithuania, with Cossack fighters patrolling Ukraine’s frontier with Poland.
In the 17th century, war between the Tsardom of Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth resulted in more internal divisions. Lands to the east of the Dnieper River fell under Russian imperial control much earlier than Ukrainian lands to the west of the Dnieper. The east became known as “Left Bank” Ukraine and a center of industry and coal. Lands to the west of the Dnieper, or “Right Bank,” were to be ruled by Poland. A small part in the west, called Galicia, was allotted to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the last 19th century. The Austro-Hungarian empire ended at the end of World War I, but that small part of western Ukraine remained outside the Russian empire and was incorporated into the U.S.S.R. only as a result of the Second World War.
After the communist revolution of 1917, Ukraine was one of the many countries to suffer a brutal civil war before becoming a Soviet Republic in 1920. In the early 1930s, to force peasants into joining collective farms, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin orchestrated a famine that resulted in the starvation and death of millions of Ukrainians. Afterward he imported large numbers of Russians and other Soviet citizens—many with no ability to speak Ukrainian and with few ties to the region—to help repopulate the east. The fault lines dividing thus between east and the west we might say that the crisis in Ukraine was waiting to happen.
Tailspin: Nationalism in a sense is an impossibility considering its domino effect. By the same standards ethnic minorities on their cultural identity, belief shall demand their own spheres of control. We have seen it in Balkans demand for Khalistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Inversion principle determines such breakdown no matter how you set up nations.

(ack: National Geographic Magazine)

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 The year 1848 can be considered as the beginning of the modern Europe.
In an obscure German paper Karl Marx published
the Communist Manifesto. It was a challenge to the entrenched order
that was at best benevolent but despotic and exploitative.

It all began with violent
changes across the channel. In England was the Chartism and in Franc
Louis Philippe had been removed from the French throne in February 1848,
and revolutions
were soon to convulse other European capitals.

In early 1848
none of the greater states of Europe
functioned as democracies. Britain, where
about one-in-five adult males (in England) had voting rights,
and France, where voting rights
were allowed to very wealthy men, amounting to about
of all adult males, were the least undemocratic.

The other greater states
of Éurope – the “Austrian” Habsburg Empire, Prussia and Russia
operated as absolute monarchies
where such Assemblies of Notables, Congregations or Diets,
as were
authorised to convene were understood
to have administrative or consultative roles
rather than political or legislative powers.


The European Revolutions
of 1848 represent a widespead emergenc
of situations,
across much of Europe, where populist
human aspirations variously sought constitutional,
liberal, nationalist or socialistic changes
in society often at the cost of
traditionally influential dynastic
or religious authorities.

In February 1948,
the British historian Lewis Namier (1888–1960) delivered
a lecture commemorating the centennial
of the European Revolutions of 1848.

In this lecture Namier presented facts
about the historical developments and themes evident in 1848
and reached the conclusion that:-

1848 remains a seed-plot of history. It crystallized ideas
and projected the pattern of things to come;
it determined the course of the following century.”

Heartened by the French example
a national revolt under the legendary Lajos Kossuth
demanding a parliamentary government for Hungary
and constitutional government for the rest of Habsburg Empire.
As a result number of revolts sent Metternich out of power
and ripples as far as Italy. The movement for Hungarian Independence
lost by two reasons.
Austria and Prussia despite their long running feud
closed their ranks
to protect the divine rights of their rule,
Secondly the Czechs ,Romanians and Serbs
within the empire resisted thus proving the ethnic minorities
were the Achilles heel in the body of Nationalism.
Cluster principle shows how impossible
Nationalism is at heart. How can one divide mankind into labels?
If Nationalism goes about
to create a nation instantly there shall be
cluster of divisions by the same argument
that shall be on ethnic, sectarian lines.
Here we see a paradox that works even this day.
Hungarian nationalism of Kossuth was generously liberal;
in combating the national feelings of the Slavs and other minorities
in their midst the Hungarians were as illiberal
as nationalists elsewhere.

the Enlightenment and the French Revolution
had declared the rights of man.
“Men are born and remain free and equal in rights.”
But it was another principle that spurred the Nationalism.
“The principle of all sovereignty resides
essentially in the nation. No body or
individual can exercise authority, if it does not
take its origin from the nation.”
This is what Hitler as
der Fuehrer demanded
from the Germans and got.The exaltation of nationalism had set
a conflagration in order to create great catastrophes.
Shall Putin treat Ukraine as Hitler did in his time?(ack: age of the sage.org)




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Today Crimea is seeking referendum in a move to break away from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

Western powers have denounced the hastily organized referendum as illegal.

Some 59 percent of Crimea’s 2 million inhabitants are ethnic Russians, the minority question which has bedeviled since the early 19 th century resonates even this very day. Nationalism of Hungary Italy against monarchies have not yet sorted the friction between majority rights and minority rule. How the nation-builders got their act wrong we can see at the Paris peace conference after World War I.

That war felled the Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires, bequeathing to the Allied victors a hotch-potch of ethnic and cultural identities clamoring for statehood. The peace pitted Wilson’s “imperative principle” of self-government for formerly subject peoples was to stop the customary tendency of European statesmen sitting over fine dining and a smoke in the billiard room redrawing maps as though it were toting up gambling losses.

The U.S. President’s principle somehow didn’t extend to Ukraine. His opposition to a sovereign Ukrainian state was backed by the British and French, supporters of anti-Bolshevik forces in the civil war tin the wake of 1917 revolution.While the Paris peacemakers bestowed statehood on the likes of Czechoslovakia and Hungary Ukraine was left to be fought over by Poland and Russia. Poland seized swathes of Ukraine’s territory and the rest was swallowed up in the newly formed Soviet Union,1922.

(British Prime Minister David Lloyd George said he had glimpsed a Ukrainian only once in his life “and I am not sure that I want to see any more,” Margaret MacMillan wrote in her 2001 book, “Peacemakers.”)

To be fair to the high-minded President Wilson he was hoping the resurgent Russian empire would reverse the Bolshevik takeover. Something we have seen similarly in the Middle East. Wave democracy for all your worth the region shall be all the better for it.

Wilson’s tactics in 1919, and the West’s ambivalence toward Ukraine after it finally broke free of Soviet control in 1991, show the limited options available to the U.S. and its allies in response.

Note: One supplicant inspired by what Wilson called “the sacredness of the right of self-determination” was Nguyen Tat Thanh. The man later known as Ho Chi Minh petitioned the conference to grant Indochina independence from France. Wilson never replied, according to “The Wilsonian Moment,” a 2007 book by Erez Manela, a Harvard University history professor.
A surgeon’s mistake is covered by a tombstone. What if a statesman makes a blunder? Mass graves as one sees in Vietnam and elsewhere make any personal tombstone redundant. ( ack:James G. Neuger /bloomber.net)


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Prussians after routing the French Army at Sedan headed towards the city of Paris. They were methodical and French towns were notified in advance of their route and requirements at each place. The list included one-and-a-half pound bread per soldier,one pound meat and one-quarter pound coffee, to five cigars and either a pint of wine and a pint of beer for soldier. Towns that didn’t  come up with the required supplies were burned to the ground.

News reached the Parisians and the city was in panic. To the pervasive beating of drums that relentlessly went on citoyens drilled in the streets days and nights men and boys alike, even at nights under the gas jets. Some 40,000 oxen and 250,000sheep were brought in from all directions to pasture in the Bois de Boulogne. Foods were packed into warehouses to prepare the city for siege. Rumor mill went on and every foreigner was suspect. Most foreigners had left Paris by August.

After the surrender of the Emperor the Government of National Defense had taken over the promise,’Not an inch of our soil will we cede, not a stone of our fortress.’ The US wanted Bismarck to lift the siege and also sent Civil War Generals, Sheridan and Burnside and Leonard Jerome(Churchill’s maternal grandfather).

The three envoys found the city starving. Warehouses were emptied long ago and so were the horses in the Bois de Boulogne. Some two months before Christmas menu at a Paris restaurant had listed:soup from horse meat,mince of cat,shoulder of dog with tomato sauce,roast donkey and potatoes, mice on toast.

According to one ‘sewer rats were considered far more delicate than young chickens. One gourmet found rat tasted like a mixture of pork and partridge.

Dogs sold for four francs a pound when it was available, compared to horse at 40centimes a kilogram. Cats were a delicacy and the price was 20 fr. per pound. According to Chronique de Siege the Parisians had eaten 25,523 cats not counting alley cats. Wen the zoo was closed elephant trunks went around eight dollars a pound. Camel kidneys were much cheaper. Bread seems to have been made from panama hats picked up from gutter and a piece of bread was the selling rate for a prostitute.

The only plentiful food was mustard and champagne. The prolonged siege made crush of starving men and women throwing at the Prussian soldiers for food. It angered Bismarck who wanted the troops to fire on the citizens.  When someone pointed out that the Prussian soldiers may not do that the Iron Chancellor was sure that the soldiers ought to be punished for disobedience. He seemed to have remarked ,’I  attach no great importance to human life, because I believe in another world.’ Concluded.
(ack:i)Napoleon II-and his carnival empire/John Murray-1988/John Bierman.ii)Jennie/The life of Lady Randolph Churchill/Signet,1970/Ralph G. Martin)

Tailspin: The terrible misery that visited Germany during the Hyperinflation and Paris under siege are two sides of the same coin. Integration principle works slowly but sets man’s inhumanity to one another on the same yardstick.


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Francisco Pizarro’s bold plan paid off and the handful of Spaniards had conquered the Inca king and his phalanxes of Indians. Every Spaniard pressed into action had killed an average of 15 natives during those two terrible hours. They bearded Spaniard conquistadors had come for 3 Gs ,-gold glory and God. At the end of the skirmish the Spaniards were sure God led them. Yes Indeed!
What followed was gold and silver that was waiting to be grabbed. On the day after the massacre Hernando de Soto confiscated 800 pounds of gold,more than 3500 pounds of silver and 14 emeralds. The greed with which they stole the royal table service was an eyeopener to the king. The hapless king did not think his life was in peril. So he parleyed with Pizarro to win freedom. He promised,’a room full of gold also the entire hut filled twice over with silver.” Pizarro promised him no harm. Little did he know that these 160 strangers were the advance party of a colonial invasion.
The King was imprisoned for eight months. His ransom was fulfilled by mid 1533.

All the gold and silver melted and ingots were divided into five where the one fifth went to the king of Spain.
Meanwhile Pizarro’s partner, Diego de Alamgro reached Cajamarca with reinforcements from Panama. The Spaniards consulted and they dared not set the king free. They decided to execute the king. It was done as the night fell on Saturday, July 26,1533. There was a mock conversion administered by friar Valverde and the king tied to a stake on the square was garroted to death. It was condemned by the Spanish authorities in Panama and also by the king. King Charles wrote to Pizarro,” we have been displeased by the death of Atahualpa, since he was a monarch and particularly as it was done in the name of justice.”
The conquest of Peru started with a checkmate- the capture and death of the Inca king. The fighting came later. There were four battles with Atahualpa’s armies during their 8oo-mile march along the great Inca road from Cajamarca to Cuzco.
The inca armies fought against impossible odds and the Spanish superior firepower,- and cavalry was a decisive factor. Finally on November 15,1533 Pizarro’s men seized their ultimate prize, Cuzco the heart of Inca capital. Pizarro, now in his late 5os set about governing and plundering th land he had conquered. The natives were forced to work relentlessly for their new masters. As Barthelome de Vega wrote,” Men are loaded with it (tributes), and so are the women, the pregnant women with their heads (bent down) on their swollen bellies and those who have given birth their babies on top of their loads.” Rape and looting went on everywhere and the Indian population declined catastrophically.
The victory was a poison chalice for Pizarro in terms of the falling out of their partnership. Diego de Almagro resented at being cut out of the share of the royal ransom and his ire knew no bounds for all the glory Pizarro garnered. The king had invested Pizarro with the governorship of Peru and he was left out. In order to placate him Almagro was given the governorship of land south of Peru. When he and his men rode out to his seat he found no treasure. He was unaware that the Spaniards would strike at Potosi the richest silver mines. Deeply bitter and wracked by envy Almagro laid claim for Cusco. The Spaniards were soon at each other’s throats. The war ended with Almagro’s defeat by Pizarro’s brother, Hernando in 1538. Almagro and 120 of his men were summarily executed for which Hernando will be shut in a prison on his return home.
A handful of Almagro’s men in Lima vowed revenge and they deputed a young son of Almagro. On the morning of Sunday, July 26,1541 the dead man’s followers breached the palace of Pizarro and brutally murdered him.
The conquest of Peru left two important legacies. One is that one third of all Peruvians today are mestizo- of mixed Indian and Spanish blood. The other is the rooting out of traditional Inca beliefs by Catholic Church has cloned itself as the single religious solace of most Andean Indians.
(Ack:Pizarro, conqueror of the Inca/ John Hemming-National Geographic Magazine-Feb. 1992)

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Molotov told de Gaulle that he once stood behind Stalin who believed himself alone. With his two hands he covered large parts of the globe that stood in his study. The entire Europe lay covered by his one palm and he was heard muttering,”It’s small, Europe.”

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Had the USA done differently these would have happened:
The Cold War would have ended by itself.
Soviets would not have been able to hold on under the weight of its personality cult and mis-rule; Gorbachev did call for more openeness because he had no other alternative. A catastrophic event like Chernobyl showed the USSR had to update its technology and let in expertise from outside; Its ageing submarines around the Baltic and the North Sea for example and deeply ingrained black market profiteering was a symptom of the weak authority or lack of will in cleaning up administration. Dwindling population already decimated by WWII and under repression were not strong to force changes..
2. Osama bin Laden would have been the founder
of a chain of companies: or directing his own construction company from one of the Saudi office blocks spending his time with with his team setting new goals for branching out into different parts of UAE. Name of the company: Al Quaida Construction Co.,
3. Saddam Hussein would have moved from being one of those street- smart hoodlum into the the service of some ageing Sheik. Or he would have continued in Egypt, sucking upto rich tourists coming in to visit the pyramids.
4. As for Iraq the British interests were already on the wane. America would have had greater role to play in the Middlle East. So many deaths on the sides of Iraq,Iran and of US Marines would have been spared.
This is terrible, I mean to rewrite history. (from my post of April 1,2007 in Journalspace )

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Muslim convert from New York was sentenced on Friday to 11-1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to threatening the writers of the satirical “South Park” television show for their depiction of the Prophet Mohammad and to other criminal charges.
Jesse Curtis Morton, 33, who is also known as Younus Abdullah Muhammed, was put on three years of probation after he completes his prison term. The sentence was handed down in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Morton, who ran a website that encouraged Muslims to engage in violence against enemies of Islam, pleaded guilty in February to making threatening communications, using the Internet to put others in fear and using his position as leader of the Revolution Muslim organization’s Internet sites to conspire to commit murder.
“Jesse Morton sought to inspire Muslims to engage in terrorism by providing doctrinal justification for violence against civilians in the name of Islam,” U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said.
“His crimes not only put people’s lives forever in danger, but they also chilled free expression out of fear of retaliation by violent terrorists,” MacBride said in a statement.

I hold no truck with those who incite passion and terror, and those who beat the memory of the dead prophet. The Muslim convert changed his father’s faith for another. Ok, fine for one to get rid of unwanted baggage. Instead of feeling relieved that he came into a man’s estate, he saddled himself with another. What is the worth of religion in the way practiced these days by Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Yemen, Pakistan,Kabul and in Nigeria? Hatred and pure nonsense whereas the prophet stood for something nobler. If Islam is a religion of peace what he did was wrong and senseless. He followed some idiots who take the name of Prophet and took the wrong road to urge violence. Only look at the needless slaughter of children and women! Just because terrorists want to create terror among ordinary folks or media attention they don’t mind killing their brethren as well. On that account itself they have repudiated their prophet’s words. So the fellow who threatened South Park writers merely was a tool to further the cause of terrorists.
Why should comedians harp on Mohammed? He is dead and there is no merit in poking fun at one who for great many is a revered figure. I am unashamedly a follower of Christ and yet I can admire him for the noble purpose he made his life’s work. Go make fun of the living, for a change. If you ridicule the hollow sounding political nit- wits who are ‘ready to fix the economy or immigration problem’ by some magic formula the jabs may have some effect. Prophet Mohammed, let him rest. He whether the west likes it not was a great prophet. If you study his life without prejudice and objectively you shall find he wanted to purify both Christian and Jewish religion of his time. He stood for something noble just as George Washington stood for something in terms of politics. Just as with all religion Prophet Mohammed was ill- served by his followers who were all jockeying for control, call it self interest. Now what benefit you can get by ridiculing him? It is just like beating a dog or a donkey after the beast has served you all its life. Even if you were to do this now you will be taken by the hand of law for cruelty to animals.
The new converts may not know for a believer despises such converts for their inability to be true to their belief.
From history you can see how these blind believers who dared not think themselves brought upon them the backwardness they merited. Now they can only bury in the Word and blindly fool around like puppets for some mad Ayatollahs and clerics. They lost Jerusalem just because of their inability to co-exist with their neighbors or go with the trends that made the homeless Jews to find a homeland in the 20th Century.

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During the bitter struggle for Stalingrad in the Second World War the Germans had the initial advantage but the element of surprise was worn thin by the indomitable courage of the Russians who were fighting for the Motherland. The Russians would not give up and were reduced to fight for every street. In this close combat snipers were an essential part. Vasily Zaitsev was a hero who killed some 300 Germans. He was awarded by the Party for his crucial role.
If one reads German invasion of Soviet Russia the siege of Stailngrad is reduced to a few pages and the role of Vasily may be told in a line at the most. Suppose we were to look at the whole WWII the role of Vasily, most certainly will be left out. In simplification some shift in focus is necessary.
It is like reducing the earth to the size of a golf ball. There shall be no Grand Canyon or the Himalayas. It will be smoother than the golf ball. We are all players in terms of history. Only that we don’t get written about. Our waking lives we may not have place for anything else but of ourselves. Yet we have become non-persons in the human narraive of time and place.

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