What happened on this day in history: Jack the Ripper kills his final victim in London's East End, the Berlin Wall falls after nearly 30 years, and more.
1888: Jack The Ripper Kills His Final Victim
Jack the Ripper kills his fifth and final known victim, Mary Jane Kelly. Unlike the Ripper’s first four victims, Kelly was murdered inside the room she rented in London’s East End, allowing the killer to spend two hours mutilating her body. The skin was removed from her abdomen and thighs, her organs were removed and scattered across the room, her breasts were cut off, and her face was hacked beyond recognition.
1914: Hedy Lamarr Is Born
Austrian-American actress Hedy Lamarr is born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Austria. Lamarr became interested in acting from an early age, and she enrolled in acting school at the age of 16 and was given the lead role in the controversial Czech film Ecstasy just three years later.
She gained notoriety for the role due to the brief scenes of nudity and sex. In 1938, Lamarr moved to Hollywood and began acting for MGM, and she achieved her greatest success as Delilah in the 1950 Oscar-winning film Samson and Delilah.
1938: The Start Of Kristallnacht
Nazis burn synagogues, vandalize homes and businesses, and kill more than 100 Jewish people in what’s known as Kristallnacht, or the “Night of Broken Glass.”
Two days prior, a Jewish teenager named Herschel Grynszpan learned that his family had been exiled to Poland and in retaliation, shot a German diplomat in Paris. Subsequently, the Nazi Party used the opportunity to whip its followers into an anti-Semitic frenzy. Thousands of buildings were vandalized or burned, and Nazi officials ordered German police and firemen to intervene only if non-Jewish property was affected.
1971: John List Murders His Family
John List kills his wife, mother, and three children in their Westfield, New Jersey home, then flees, evading capture for nearly 18 years. List had planned the murders so carefully that nobody knew the family was dead until a month later. By then, John List was long gone and had assumed a new identity. It wasn’t until 1989 that he was arrested and sentenced to five consecutive terms of life in prison.
1989: Fall Of The Berlin Wall
The East German Communist Party announces that citizens can freely cross the Berlin Wall into West Germany, ending 28 years of separation. The wall was built in 1961 and at least 600 people died over the years attempting to cross into West Germany. As soon as the announcement was made, crowds swarmed the wall, climbing across it and quickly destroying it with hammers and picks.