On November 19th, Monaco celebrates its National Holiday with spectacular fireworks over the harbor the evening before and a mass in the Cathedral the next morning. An excellent opportunity to see the pomp and circumstance of the Principality, visitors can see the Knights of Malta, distinguished ambassadors, consuls and state officials decked out in medal-laden uniforms as they congregate in the Place St. Nicholas after the mass. Then it is off to the Prince’s Palace where onlookers can see the Princely family wave to the crowd from the windows of the palace.
The Monaco International Fireworks Festival attracts thousands to view some beautiful, original and noisy displays. The competition has been held since 1966 and invites pyrotechnic specialists from countries around the world to show their talent in Port Hercule. The competition, which starts in July, continues through the month of August, and the winner returns on 18 November to create the fireworks displays on the evening before Monaco's national holiday.
Until the Monegasque Revolution of 1910 forced the adoption of the 1911 constitution, the princes of Monaco were absolute rulers. The long over-due constitution, however, barely reduced the autocratic rule by the Grimaldis and Albert I soon suspended it. In July 1918, the Franco-Monegasque Treaty was signed providing for limited French protection over Monaco. The treaty, endorsed in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles, established that Monegasque international policy would be aligned with French political, military, and economic interests, and resolved the Monaco Succession Crisis.
In 1943, the Italian army invaded and occupied Monaco, setting up a Fascist administration. Shortly thereafter, following Mussolini's collapse in Italy, the Nazi German Wehrmacht occupied Monaco and began the deportation of the Jewish population. René Blum (Paris, 13 March 1878 – Auschwitz, 30 April 1943), the prominent French Jew who founded the Ballet de l'Opera in Monte Carlo, was arrested in his Paris home and held in the Drancy deportation camp outside Paris, whence he was then transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he was killed. Blum's colleague Raoul Gunsbourg, the director of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, was helped by the French Resistance to escape arrest and flee to Switzerland.