This Day In History : May 12

1965 Russian Federation

Luna 5, a Soviet spacecraft crashes on the Moon

On May 12, 1965, the Soviet Union’s Luna 5 spacecraft crash-landed on the Moon after its retrorockets failed to fire.

Also on This Day in History May 12

Discover what happened on May 12 with HISTORY's summaries of major events, anniversaries,
famous births and notable deaths.

Births on This Day, May 12
  • 1820 Florence Nightingale

    Italian-English nurse during the Crimean War, known as the "Lady with the Lamp" because she made rounds at night

  • 1918 Mary Kay Ash

    American businesswoman who founded Mary Kay Cosmetics

  • 1937 George Carlin

    American comedian, actor, and author

  • 1907 Katharine Hepburn

    American actress

  • 1956 Homer Simpson

    American fictional patriarchal character, and donut aficionado from the long running animated television show "The Simpsons"

Deaths on This Day, May 12
  • 1864 James Ewell Brown

    American General during the Civil War

  • 1935 Józef Piłsudski (1867-1935)

    Father of the Second Polish Republic who served as its Chief of State (1918-22), Marshall of Poland and later its de facto leader (1926-35)

  • 2022 Robert McFarlane

    American Marine Corps veteran and civil servant (National Security Adviser, 1983-85), involved in the Space Defense Initiative, and Iran-Contra Affair

  • 2015 Ruth Mompati

    South African politician and Secretary of Nelson Mandela

  • 1994 Xenophon Balaskas

    South African cricket all-rounder


Napoleon Conquers Venice

On May 12, 1797, the Republic of Venice was dissolved and dismembered by the French general Napoleon Bonaparte and the Habsburg Monarchy.

Mussolini Ends Women's Suffrage

Benito Mussolini announces moves to end women's suffrage in a speech to the Senate in Italy

The Soviet Union lifts its blockage of Berlin

On May 12, 1949, an early crisis of the Cold War comes to an end when the Soviet Union lifts its 11-month blockade against West Berlin.

Russian Mikhail Botvinnik wins world chess championship for 3rd time

On May 12, 1961, Russian chess grandmaster Mikhail Botvinnik secured his third world championship title by defeating Michael Tal in the return match.
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