This Day in History - August 13
Today is the 226th day of 2012. There are 140 days left in the year.
1961: East Germany seals off border between East and West Berlin, closing Brandenburg Gate to halt people fleeing the country.
1814: Britain agrees to hand back all Dutch colonial possessions including Indonesia.
1945: World Zionist Congress demands admission of one million Jews to Palestine.
1970 - Iraq and Syria reaffirms their opposition to Egyptian efforts to seek a peaceful solution of the Middle East crisis.
1976 - South Africa pledges support for U.S. effort to bring about negotiated settlement in Rhodesia, saying failure would invite Communist intervention.
1978 - Explosion in Palestinian building in Beirut kills about 200 people, including members of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
1983 - The Indian government starts to erect a barbed-wire fence along the entire 2,500-mile (4,000-kilometer) border with Bangladesh to prevent the entry of illegal aliens. Resentment of Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh flared into weeks of violence in which 3,000 were killed.
1990 - President Mikhail S. Gorbachev issues a decree absolving of wrongdoing the millions of victims of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin who had not been formally rehabilitated.
1993 - A six-story hotel in Thailand crashes down, killing at least 24 people, injuring about 350, and trapping dozens in the debris.
1994 - Bosnian Serb leaders rebuff a top U.N. official's plea to accept an international peace plan that would give them 49 percent of Bosnia.
1995 - Decapitated body of a Norwegian man, one of the five tourists kidnapped by a Kashmiri separatist group, is found in a village in India.
1997 - Heavy fighting rages in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, between forces of the president and those of a former military ruler.
1998 - Rebels fighting Congolese President Laurent Kabila capture a power transformer in western Congo, sending the capital, Kinshasa, into darkness.
1999 - A gunman in Bogota shoots and kills Jaime Garzon, Colombia's most popular political satirist and an irreverent peace activist; right-wing paramilitaries are blamed.
2001 - Macedonia's rival political leaders sign a landmark peace accord aimed at ending six months of bloody conflicts and clearing the way for NATO troops to disarm ethnic Albanian rebels.
2002 - Iranian President Mohammed Khatami criticizes the U.S. campaign against terrorism, saying Washington "misused" worldwide outrage over the Sept. 11 attacks in order to "use the fight against terrorism to impose its power on other countries."
2003 - Libya and families of victims of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland sign an agreement to pay as much as $2.7 billion in reparations. The agreement also called for Libya to acknowledge responsibility for the bombing.
2005 - Suspected guerrillas in Colombia kill four police officers with grenades and gunfire in an ambush on a rural highway.
2006 - On his 80th birthday, Fidel Castro cautions Cubans that he faces a long recovery from surgery. His younger brother, Raul, makes a first public appearance as Cuba's interim president.
2007 - Two South Korean women kidnapped by Taliban militants in mid-July are handed over to the international Red Cross.
2008 -- Mexico announces it will build a US$1.27 billion tunnel that will be almost 39 miles (62 kilometers) long and 7 yards (meters) in diameter, to help solve the centuries-old drainage problem of the nation's capital.
Andes Angstroem, Swedish physicist (1814-1874); Albert Sorel, French historian (1824-1906); John Logie Baird, British inventor of television (1888-1946); Alfred Hitchcock, British film director (1899-1980); Makarios III, first president of Cyprus (1913-1977); Fidel Castro, Cuban leader (1926-); Kathleen Battle, US soprano (1948-); Paul Greengrass, film director (1955-).