February 24, 2018




The National Socialist German Workers' Party  (NSDAP) known as the Nazi party, was founded on this day. Its precursor was the German Workers' Party (DAP), which existed from 1919 to 1920.  The NSDAP grew from several small political groups which were strongly nationalistic, and which formed in the last years of World War I.  In 1918, a league called the Free Workers' Committee for a good Peace was founded in Bremen Germany.  Anton Drexler, a fervent German nationalist created a branch of the league in Munich on March 7, 1918.  Drexler was a local locksmith who was a member of the militarist Fatherland Party during World War I,  and was bitterly opposed to the armistice of November 1918 and its aftermath. He followed the views of militant nationalists who opposed the Treaty of Versailles and disseminated antisemitic,  anti-monarchist and anti-Marxist views. He believed in the superiority of Germans, who claimed to be so-called Aryan master race.  He denounced international capitalism as a Jewish-dominated movement, and denounced capitalists for war profiteering in World War I. Drexler saw the political violence and instability in Germany the result of the Weimar Republic being out-of-touch with the masses, especially the lower classes. and emphasized the need for a form of economic socialism, in order to create a popular nationalist-oriented workers' movement that could challenge the rise of Communism and internationalist politics. He received attention and support from influential people who convinced him to form a political party.  In January 5, 1919, he founded the German Workers Party (DAP) and shortly thereafter Hitler (stationed in the Munich army) began its seventh member.  The party gained public attention very quickly and on February 24, 1920 had its largest gathering of 2,000 people, at which Hitler enunciated the twenty-five points of the German Workers' Party manifesto that he drew up with Drexler and Feder. Hitler presented a bolder strategy calling for the abrogation of the Treaty of Versailles, expanding German borders, exclusion of Jews from German citizenship, confiscation of war profits, among other objectives.  The manifesto was antisemetic, anti-capitalist, anti-Marxist, and anti-liberal.  The party name changed to  Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei ("National Socialist German Workers' ). The word socialist was added to appeal to a larger segment of the population, that is,  left-wing workers.


The British Labour Party issued a manifesto demanding that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain call a new general election to assess whether the public supported his appeasement policy.  The manifesto was read in the British House of Commons. Here is an excerpt: "The British Labour movement reaffirms its uncompromising opposition to any agreement with either Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany on the basis indicated by the Prime Minister in his statement to Parliament. This is not the time for concessions to the dictators. We need a clear declaration that Britain stands for the enforcement of treaties against lawless force and against aggressive interference in the internal affairs of independent States. Czechoslovakia in particular should be assured at once that Great Britain and the other League Powers will fulfill their obligations to maintain her integrity and independence." Chamberlain served as Prime Minister from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, which conceded Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany. Chamberlain was sure that the Agreement brought in a new era of peace, but then as now, was severely criticized for not preparing Britain for an inevitable war with Germany. On March 15, 1939, Hitler invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia, and on September 1, 1939 invaded Poland.  Three days later, Chamberlain declared war on Germany,  and the ensuing eight months consisted of minimal fighting, aptly termed the Phoney War.   Chamberlain died on November 9, 1940 at the age of 71. A few days before his death, Chamberlain wrote, " So far as my personal reputation is concerned, I am not in the least disturbed about it. The letters which I am still receiving in such vast quantities so unanimously dwell on the same point, namely without Munich the war would have been lost and the Empire destroyed in 1938 ... I do not feel the opposite view ... has a chance of survival. Even if nothing further were to be published giving the true inside story of the past two years I should not fear the historian's verdict."


The Lower Silesian Offensive ended in Soviet victory. Faced with heavy German reinforcement, Konev closed the offensive phase of operations, having secured a small bridgehead across the Neisse near Forst. This effectively defined the start lines in that sector for the Battle of Berlin, or Berlin Offensive, two months later.


Soviets Executed Polish General:  Emil August Fieldorf, code-named"Nil" was a Polish Brigadier General,  and Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Armia Krajowa (AK or "Home Army"), after the failure of the Warsaw Uprising. The Soviet NKVD executed Fieldorf on February 24, 1953. (Note: In 1948 the Soviet regime was arresting and persecuting former resistance fighters loyal to the Polish Government in Exile in London and offering them "amnesty".  General Fieldor refused to collaborate with the Communist security services, even under torture.  Fieldorf was accused by prosecutor Helena Wolińska-Brus of being a "fascist-Hitlerite criminal" and for having ordered an execution of Soviet partisans while serving in the Armia Krajowa, AK (Polish Home Army).  Following a kangaroo court trial, he was sentenced to death on April 16, 1952 by the presiding judge Maria Gurowska.  An appeal to a higher court failed, and the family's plea for a pardon was denied by then the communist leader Bolesław Bierut who refused to grant clemency. The sentence was carried out, by hanging, on February 24, 1953 at 3:00 pm in the infamous Mokotów Prison in Warsaw.  General Fieldorf's body was never returned to his family. His remains are buried in a location, still unknown to this day.

February 23, 2018




The Battle of Poznań ended in Soviet victory.  It was a massive assault by the Soviet Union's Red Army against the Nazi stronghold in the city of Poznan, in occupied Poland. The battle ensued for almost an entire month as the Soviets painstakingly reduced the German fortified positions, using intense urban combat, leading to a final attack on the city's citadel by the Red Army. The city of Poznań (called Posen in German) lay in the western part of Poland which had been annexed by Nazi Germany following their invasion of Poland in 1939, and was the chief city of Reichsgau Wartheland. The Nazi defenders made use of some of the surviving Festung Posen (strongholds) 19-th century fortifications built during Prussian rule. The Fort Winiary citadel stood on a hill to the north of the city centre. Around the city perimeter were 18 massively-built forts, spaced at intervals of about 2 kilometres in a ring with a radius of about 5 kilometres. General Chuikov described the forts as follows: "....underground structures each with several stories, the whole projecting above the surrounding terrain. Only a mound was visible above ground -- the layer of earth covering the rest. Each fort was ringed by a ditch ten metres wide and eight metres deep, with walls revetted with brickwork. Across the ditch was a bridge, leading to one of the upper stories. Among the forts, to the rear, there were one-storey brick bunkers. These were clad in concrete almost a full metre thick, and were used as stores. The upper works of the forts were sufficiently strong to provide reliable protection against heavy artillery fire. . . . the enemy would be able to direct fire of all kinds against us both on the approaches to the forts and within them, on the rampart. The embrasures were such that flanking fire from rifles and machine-guns could be directed from them."

German Town Annihilated by British Bombers:  The largest attack during World War II was the bombing of the German city of Pforzheim. On the evening of February 23, 1945, RAF bombers carried out a raid with devastating consequences. About 17,600 people perished, almost a third of the towns population and about 83% of the buildings were completely destroyed. The Allies believed that the town was producing  precision instruments for use in the Wehrmacht, and that the town was a central hub of German transports. (In 1944  many of the towns factories had been converted to manufacturing weapons such as anti-aircraft shells, bomb fuses, and suspected to have made parts for the V1 and V2 rockets.)

February 22, 2018




Nazi Germany:  40,000 SS and SA men were sworn in as auxiliary police.  The SS or Schutzstaffel was originally known as Saal-Schutz ("Hall Security") and was made up of NSDAP volunteers to provide security for party meetings in Munich. After Himmler joined the unit in 1925, the SS, under his direction, became one of the most powerful organizations in Nazi Germany and it grew from a small paramilitary formation to one of the most powerful police units.  It consisted of two divisions; the Allgemeine SS (General SS) which was responsible for enforcing the racial policy of Nazi Germany and general policing;  and Waffen-SS (Armed SS) consisted of combat units of troops within Nazi Germany's military. Other units of the SS were the SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV) which ran the concentration camps and extermination camps, and additional subdivisions that included the Gestapo and the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) organizations. They were assigned to detect actual (or potential) enemies of the Nazi state, to destroy all opposition, police the German people in their allegiance to the Nazi ideology and engage in domestic and foreign intelligence.  The Sturmabteilung (SA) called the "brownshirts" were the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party (NSDAP). They played an integral role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s.  Among their tasks were providing protection for Nazi rallies, disrupting meetings of opposition parties, and opposing paramilitary units, in particular, the Red Front Fighters League of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). They also intimidated Slavic and Romani people, unionists, and especially the Jews (for example, during the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses.)  In the event called the Night of the Long Knives, the SA became disempowered after Adolf Hitler ordered the "blood purge" of 1934.)

Nazi plans were made for a detention camp in Oranienburg, the first site in Germany. It opened the following March 12.  It was  originally set up as the first detention facilities in the state of Prussia, when the Nazis gained power in 1933.  The camp imprisoned political opponents of the Nazi party from the Berlin region, which consisted primarily of members of the Communist Party of Germany and social-democrats, as well as a number of homosexual men and masses of the so-called undesirables.  The SS took over the prison on July 4, 1034, when they suppressed the SA brownshirts.  The prison was closed and replaced by the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1936.  When it closed,  the prison had held over 3,000 inmates, of whom 16 had died.


First flights of the Famous Polish PZL.50 Jastrząb. The PZL was Polish pre-war fighter aircraft designed by Wsiewołod Jakimiuk of the PZL works. The single-seat low-wing monoplane was to serve as a multi-purpose fighter and escort to replace all other fighters in the Polish Air Force. Designed after 1936, its prototype first flew in February 1939. A further two prototypes were under construction but never entered mass production because Poland was invaded by Germany on September 1, 1939. Wsiewołod Jakimiuk evacuated to Romania, and then to France, where he became the head of the team of Polish engineers at SNCA-SE (Société Nationale des Constructions Aéronautiques - Sud Est ) in Argentueil near Paris .  Work began on modifying the SE-100 fighter and the Leo-45 bomber. But in 1940, Nazi Germany invaded France, and  Jakimiuk evacuated to England where he contacted the British De Havilland.  He was offered a position in the Canadian branch of De Havilland, and in March 1941, he gathered a team of outstanding Polish engineers to work in the aviation industry in Canada. In Toronto, Jakimiuk became a member of the prestigious Granite Club.  He launched the production of a licensed two-engined training plane Avro Anson (352 units built) then constructed with wooden wings for training NA-66 Harvard II and the development of the Menasco engine for the DH school airplane .82 Tiger Moth. In 1942, he launched the production of the DH.98 Mosquito fighter-bomber plane in Canada. Six years later, Jakimiuk moved to England to continue work at the de Havilland factory in Hatfield , where he developed the on-board jet fighter plane DH-112 Sea Venom.   In 1951 he again worked in France at the SNCA-SE label (Sud Est), where he designed the SE-5000 Baroudeur jet fighter aircraft.  Jakimiuk became one of the five commercial directors in the construction of supersonic Franco-British Concorde aircraft (flown on November 2, 1969, 16 were built)


Churchill gave a speech in the House of Commons aimed at dispelling Soviet distrust. Churchill said he supported the Soviet border demands in Poland as reasonable and stated that Britain had never guaranteed any Polish border. ".... the Foreign Secretary and I together have laboured with the Polish Government in London with the object of establishing a working arrangement upon which the Fighting Forces can act, and upon which, I trust, an increasing structure of good will and comradeship may be built between Russians and Poles. I have an intense sympathy with the Poles, that heroic race whose national spirit centuries of misfortune cannot quench, but I also have sympathy with the Russian stand-point. Twice in our lifetime Russia has been violently assaulted by Germany. Many millions of Russians have been slain and vast tracts of Russian soil devastated as a result of repeated German aggression. Russia has the right of reassurance against future attacks from the West, and we are going all the way with her to see that she gets it, not only by the might of her arms but by the approval and assent of the United Nations. The liberation of Poland may presently be achieved by the Russian Armies after these Armies have suffered millions of casualties in breaking the German military machine. I cannot feel that the Russian demand for a reassurance about her Western frontiers goes beyond limits of what is reasonable or just. Marshal Stalin and I also spoke and agreed upon the need for Poland to obtain compensation at the expense of Germany both in the north and in the west."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd February, 1944; Vol. 397, c. 698.] Hansard, British Parliamentary Debates.


German submarine U-300 was depth charged and sunk west of Cádiz, Spain by British warships:  The U-boat was in position 36°29′N 08°20′W when it was hit by gunfire from the British  HMS Recruit and HMS Pincher, after being badly damaged by depth charges from the British armed yacht HMS Evadne on February 19th. Nine of the crew were lost, there were 41 survivors.