History News February 2023

History Uncovered Episode 59:
History Happy Hour, February 2023

Published October 2, 2023

Whether it's the prison letter of Mary, Queen of Scots or a 500-year-old pendant celebrating the marriage of Henry VIII, these are the most interesting history news stories of February 2023.

It’s the end of February 2023 and we’ve handpicked a few of our favorite history stories from this month. We’ll discuss some of the most popular news stories we covered on the site as well as several historic anniversaries for the month. In celebration of Black History Month, we’ll also discuss some incredible stories from Black history.

One of the most fascinating stories of the month had to do with Solomon Perel, who, as a young boy living in Nazi Germany, was forced to make an impossible choice. Cornered by soldiers who demanded to know if he was Jewish, Perel lied and said he wasn’t.

Thus began his unbelievable double life. Perel became “Josef Perjell” and joined the Hitler Youth.

“I was schizophrenic,” Perel later recalled. “During the day, I was a German youth who wanted to win the war, I sang songs against Jews and yelled ‘Heil Hitler’ — and at night, in bed, I cried out of longing for my family.”

Solomon Perel

Solomon Perel/U.S. Holocaust Memorial MuseumSolomon Perel in 1943, during his time with the Hitler Youth.

We’ll also discuss the letters of Mary, Queen of Scots, which she wrote in prison and which were only recently decoded. The 57 letters contained information about her political opponents, her health during imprisonment, and the ongoing negotiations for her potential release from house arrest and return to the Scottish throne. And we’ll touch on the discovery of an incredible, 500-year-old pendant in an English field celebrating the marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife, Katherine of Aragon.

In the second half of the episode, we’ll discuss some stories from Black history that we’ve covered on the site, including the true story of Solomon Northup, a free Black man kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. Northup later wrote of his experience in his stunning memoir, which was made into the Oscar-winning film 12 Years A Slave in 2013.

“I have no comments to make upon the subject of Slavery,” Solomon Northup wrote at the end of his memoir. “Those who read this book may form their own opinions of the ‘peculiar institution…’ This is no fiction, no exaggeration. If I have failed in anything, it has been in presenting to the reader too prominently the bright side of the picture.”

We’ll also discuss the bravery and sacrifice of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, one of the first Black regiments to fight in the Civil War.

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