Behind History For December 16
1903 – Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel in Bombay first opens its doors to guests.
1907 – The American Great White Fleet begins its circumnavigation of the world.
1912 – First Balkan War: The Royal Hellenic Navy defeats the Ottoman Navy at the Battle of Elli.
1914 – World War I: Admiral Franz von Hipper commands a raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby.
1918 – Vincas Mickevičius-Kapsukas declares the formation of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic; it is dissolved in 1919.
1920 – The Haiyuan earthquake of 8.5Mw , rocks the Gansu province in China, killing an estimated 200,000.
1922 – President of Poland Gabriel Narutowicz is assassinated by Eligiusz Niewiadomski at the Zachęta Gallery in Warsaw.
1930 – Bank robber Herman Lamm and members of his crew are killed by a 200-strong posse, following a botched bank robbery, in Clinton, Indiana.
1937 – Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe attempt to escape from the American federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay; neither is ever seen again.
1938 – Adolf Hitler institutes the Cross of Honour of the German Mother.
1941 – World War II: Japanese forces occupy Miri, Sarawak.
1942 – The Holocaust: Schutzstaffel chief Heinrich Himmler orders that Roma candidates for extermination be deported to Auschwitz.
1944 – World War II: The Battle of the Bulge begins with the surprise offensive of three German armies through the Ardennes forest.
1947 – William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain build the first practical point-contact transistor.
1950 – Korean War: U.S. President Harry S. Truman declares a state of emergency, after Chinese troops enter the fight in support of communist North Korea.
1960 – A United Airlines Douglas DC-8 and a TWA Lockheed Super Constellation collide over Staten Island, New York and crash, killing all 128 people aboard both aircraft and six more on the ground.
1965 – Vietnam War: General William Westmoreland sends U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara a request for 243,000 more men by the end of 1966.
1968 – Second Vatican Council: Official revocation of the Edict of Expulsion of Jews from Spain.
1971 – Bangladesh Liberation War and Indo-Pakistani War of 1971: The ceasefire of the Pakistan Army brings an end to both conflicts. This is commemorated annually as Victory Day in Bangladesh, and as Vijay Diwas in India.
1971 – The United Kingdom recognizes Bahrain’s independence, which is commemorated annually as Bahrain’s National Day.
1978 – Cleveland, Ohio becomes the first major American city to default on its financial obligations since the Great Depression.
1979 – Libya joins four other OPEC nations in raising crude oil prices, which has an immediate, dramatic effect on the United States.
1985 – Paul Castellano and Thomas Bilotti are shot dead on the orders of John Gotti, who assumes leadership of New York’s Gambino crime family.
1989 – Romanian Revolution: Protests break out in Timișoara, Romania, in response to an attempt by the government to evict dissident Hungarian pastor László Tőkés.
1989 – U.S. Appeals Court Judge Robert Smith Vance is assassinated by a mail bomb sent by Walter Leroy Moody, Jr.
1991 – Kazakhstan declares independence from the Soviet Union.
2013 – A bus falls from an elevated highway in the Philippines capital Manila killing at least 18 people with 20 injured.
2014 – Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan militants attacked an Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing 145 people, mostly schoolchildren.