February 20, 2018




Krakow Uprising began, led by Polish insurgents such as Jan Tyssowski and Edward Dembowski. Their objective was to incite an Uprising against the powers that partitioned Poland, in particular the  Austrian Empire.  The fighting lasted for about nine days, and ended with an Austrian victory.  The Austrians then briefly restored the feudal order but ultimately they abolished serfdom two years later. Karl Marx saw the uprising as a "deeply democratic movement that aimed at land reform and other pressing social questions." He and Friedrich Engels praised it for being "the first in Europe to plant the banner of social revolution".


Adoption of the Small Constitution. The Small Constitution declared that Poland has a parliamentary system, although it didn't define Poland as a republic. Executive powers were held by the Chief of State. He could name the ministers (with the consent of the Sejm); he and the ministers were responsible before the Sejm. The Chief of State (previously the Provisional Chief of State) no longer had legislative initiative and could not dismiss the Sejm; all his acts required the signature of the relevant minister.


"The Four Freedoms" refer to four 1943 oil paintings by the iconic American artist Norman Rockwell. The paintings were based on the themes of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear as outlined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's in his January 1941 Four Freedoms State of the Union address.  The themes were thereafter incorporated into the Atlantic Charter, and became part of the charter of the United Nations.  In 1941, Roosevelt expounded that the four freedoms should be observed "everywhere in the world"  with the "co-operation of free countries, working together in a friendly civilized society."  When Russia first became an ally, FDR eliminated the first two freedoms from the draft of the Atlantic charter, but the final version of the Charter contained all four freedoms.

February 19, 2018




Nicolaus Copernicus (dob) was a Polish mathematician and astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe.  His theory was likely independently of Aristarchus of Samos, who had formulated such a model about eighteen centuries earlier.  From 1491, Copernicus attended the University of Krakow (now Jagiellonian University  ) His studies gave him a thorough grounding in the mathematical astronomy, (arithmetic, geometry, geometric optics, cosmography, theoretical and computational astronomy) and a good knowledge of the philosophical and natural-science writings of Aristotle (De coelo, Metaphysics) and Averroes (which in the future would play an important role in the shaping of Copernicus' theory), It stimulated his interest in learning, making him conversant with humanistic culture as well.  For many years Copernicus was advisor to the Royal Prussian sejmik regarding monetary reform. In 1526 he wrote an analysis on the value of money entitled, "Monetae cudendae ratio". The theory he proposed was created several decades before that of Thomas Gresham. Copernicus also established a quantity theory of money, which is recognized today as the principal concept in economics.  His recommendations on monetary reform were held in the highest regards by political leaders of Prussia and Poland in his time.


Having already inherited the throne of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth through his mother, Catherine Jagellonica of Poland, Sigismund III of the House of Vasa was crowned King of Sweden, succeeding his father John III of Sweden. (Note: Sigismund was crowned King of Sweden on the condition that he promise to respect Lutheranism as the official religion of Sweden. Though Sigismund was King of Sweden he remained in Poland, and appointed his uncle Duke Charles to rule on his behalf.  Tensions soon escalated in Sweden about his devout Catholicism. Swedes became suspicious that Sigismund had the goal of ultimately making Sweden Catholic again.  He was deposed from the Swedish throne by his uncle, Charles IX of Sweden, and despite his efforts could not reclaim it. He  invaded Russia, occupying Moscow for two years (1610–12) and followed by Smolensk.  The Polish–Swedish conflict broke out again in 1617, while Sigismund's army was also battling against the Ottomans in Moldavia (1617 to 1621).  In 1621 King Gustavus II Adolphus of Sweden (Charles IX's son) invaded Sigismund's lands, seizing almost all of Polish Livonia, and capturing Riga..


Signing of the Franco-Polish alliance in Paris. It was a political alliance signed by Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Count Eustachy Sapieha and his French counterpart Aristide Briand. They recognized common foreign policies, promotion of bilateral economical contacts,  and agreement to consult on new pacts concerning Central and Eastern Europe (should one of the signatories become the victim of an unprovoked attack.) Two days later a secret pact was included that clarified possible threats from both Germany and the Soviet Union.  In case of aggression on Poland, France would keep the communication lines free and keep Germany in check, but it was not required to send its troops or to declare war.


Władysław Bartoszewski (dob) was a Polish politician, social activist, journalist, writer and historian. A former Auschwitz concentration camp prisoner, he became a soldier in the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa) and fought in the Warsaw Uprising. Bartoszewski worked with the Front for the Rebirth of Poland in the Provisional Committee for Aid to Jews, an organization which was succeeded by the Council for Aid to Jews (code-named Żegota). Its mission was to help save the Jews by sheltering them, or helping them to escape. They operated under the auspices of the Polish Government in Exile through the Delegatura, which was located in Warsaw. In 1945, Bartoszewski embarked on a cooperation with the Institute of National Remembrance at the presidium of the government and the Head Commission of Examination of German Crimes in Poland.  He provided valuable information to the allies regarding the German occupation, the German concentration camps and prisons, and Nazi crimes perpetrated against the Jews.  In 1943, he replaced Witold Bieńkowski in the Jewish Department of the Delegatura. After the war he was persecuted and imprisoned by the communist Polish People's Republic because of his allegiance to the Home Army and his opposition to the Soviet invasion. After the collapse of the communist regime, Bartoszewski served twice as the Minister of Foreign Affairs from March through December 1995 and again from 2000 to 2001. He was also an ambassador and a member of the Polish Senate. Bartoszewski was a close ally and friend of Polish anti-Communist activist and later president, Lech Wałęsa. He has been given honorary citizenship in Israel, and has received numerous international awards including the prestigious Order of the White Double Cross, 2nd class, the highest Polish medal of honor..


Communist controlled government in Poland adopted the Small Constitution of 1947.  The Polish Constitution of 1935 was declared null and void and criticized by the Soviet regime as being fascist.  The small constitution was presented as a temporary constitution issued by the communist-dominated Sejm (Polish parliament) of 1947-1952 which claimed to support the separation of powers of government and a stronger Sejm. The Soviets renewed it in 1949, 1950 and again in 1951. It was eventually replaced in 1952 by the Constitution of the People's Republic of Poland.


US  President Reagan lifted economic sanctions against Poland on this day and referred to his decision as a reward to the Polish government for having released political prisoners, and for other gestures of reconciliation with supporters of the outlawed Solidarnosc trade union (Solidarity)  and the Roman Catholic Church. Reagan's decision was to reduce tariffs on the importation of some Polish goods, and allow Poland to apply for loans from American banks. (The sanctions had been imposed after the imposition of martial law in Poland by Jaruzelski  in 1981 and 1982.)

February 18, 2018




Three members of the Wilno branch of the National Party were arrested and sent to the Bereza Kartuska prison.  The National Party was a Polish political party formed on October 7, 1928.  It was comprised of most of the political forces of Poland's National Democracy right-wing political camp, and were one of the main opponents of the Sanacja regime.  It was one of the largest opposition parties with over 200,000 members.(shortly before WW2)


A Double Referendum was held in Poland. One concerned enfranchisement, while the other dealt with state property. The first was ordered by the President, while the other were created on the basis of resolution made by the Sejm. All except one were approved by over 90% of voters. However, voter turnout was just 32%, well below the 50% threshold required to make the referendums valid.

February 17, 2018




German scientists evacuated the Peenemünde Army Research Center.  The first train departed from Peenemunde on February 17, 1945 with 525 people en route to Thuringia, Germany, (including Bleicherode, Sangerhausen (district), and Bad Sachsa) By mid-March the evacuation was complete.
The evacuation was called due to increased Allied bombing of the center.  During Operation Crossbow, the British aerial attacks on Peenemunde, began on the night of August 17-18, 1943,  followed a year later by bombing runs on July 18,  August 4, and August 25. They were carried out by the U.S. Eighth Air Force.  Operation Crossbow was possible only due to the work of the Polish underground.  In early 1943, two Polish inmates of Camp Trassenheide located adjacent to Peenemunde,  obtained maps, sketches and reports that they stole and smuggled to Polish Home Army Intelligence, and from there were sent to British intelligence. The Polish underground had provided two such reports which identified the "rocket assembly hall", "experimental pit", and "launching tower". The Allies gave the Polish men advance warning of the attack, but they could not leave due to tight SS security.

German submarine U-425 was depth charged and sunk by the British sloop HMS Lark and the corvette HMS Alnwick Castle near Murmansk. The U-boat had taken part in eight wolf packs throughout 1944.

February 16, 2018




Special Polish forces were created in Britain. They were named the Cichociemni ("Silent Unseen", an elite special-operations paratroops of the Polish Army in exile, whose mission was to fight against the Nazis in occupied Poland. A total of 2,613 Polish Army soldiers volunteered for special training under Polish and British SOE operatives. But only 606 Polish men completed the rigorous training. Eventually 316 of them were secretly parachuted into Nazi-occupied Poland. They also operated in German territory covering intelligence, covert operations, partisan warfare, as well as radio operators and emissaries, airmen and airdrop coordinators, and forging documents.  Among the these Polish heroes,  91 operatives fought in the Warsaw Uprising.


Stalin responded to Roosevelt's message of February 7 by saying the Polish government was made up of elements hostile to the Soviet Union and was incapable of friendly relations with the USSR. Stalin advised that "The basic improvement of the Polish government appears to be an urgent task."


German submarine U-309 was depth charged and sunk in the North Sea by Canadian frigate HMCS Saint John. U-309 was shadowing Convoy WN-74 into the Moray Firth when she was detected by the Canadian River-class frigate Saint John with ASDIC (sonar). The first attack on the U-boat produced some oil on the surface. Two further attacks were carried out using the Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar, which produced more oil. The fourth attack using depth charges produced wreckage including charts, signal books and cork insulation material. U-309 sank in position 58°09′N 02°23′  All 47 aboard were lost.

February 15, 2018




Irena Sendlerowa (Sendler) (dob) was a Polish nurse, humanitarian, and social worker who served in the Polish Underground during World War II in German-occupied Warsaw. She was head of the children's section of Żegota, the Polish Council to Aid Jews (Polish: Rada Pomocy Żydom), which was active from 1942 to 1945.  With the assistance of two dozen members of Zegota, Sendler saved the lives of 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto, providing them with shelter, and with false documents.  In 1965, Sendler was recognized by Yad Vashem as one of the Polish Righteous Among the Nations, and a tree was planted in her honor at the entrance to the Avenue of the Righteous in Jerusalem.  Following the collapse of the Russian regime, and independence of Poland, news about her heroic efforts were realized.  In 1991, Sendler was made an honorary citizen of Israel. On June 12, 1996, she was awarded the Commander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, and the Commander's Cross with Star (even higher honor)  on November 7, 2001. In 2003, Pope John Paul II sent Sendler a personal letter praising her courage and sacrifices during the War.  On November10,  2003, she was awarded the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest civilian decoration, as well as the Polish-American award, the Jan Karski Award "For Courage and Heart", given by the American Center of Polish Culture in Washington, D.C and many, other awards.


Senators blamed Jews in Polish University Riots. Several senators charged that Jewish students themselves were guilty in the university rioting. Senator Malinowsky alone defended the Jews, placing blame for the riots at the door of some university rectors, whose removal he demanded. Warsaw University announced the dismissal of Joseph Reichman, a lecturer, for having written an article in a Polish Progressive newspaper in which he condemned the anti-Jewish rioting at the university. The action was based on a new ordinance by the Ministry of Education, permitting disciplinary punishment against university lecturers, including reprimands and withdrawal of university titles.


The Wildstein List is an index containing the names of approximately 162,000 individuals who are alleged to have worked for the Polish secret police (the Służba Bezpieczeństwa, or SB) or who were being recruited by, or under investigation.  The SB was a Soviet-backed secret police agency, which operated in Poland during the cold war. The Wildstein List was named after the Polish journalist, Bronislaw Wildstein, who uploaded the list of names to the internet. Apparently, he said that it was not intentional and was done in error.

February 14, 2018




The Union of Armed Struggle was transformed into the Home Army, also called Armia Krajowa. The Home Army was the largest underground resistance movement in Poland, fighting both Nazi Germany and the Soviets. Their 1944 strength ranged between 200,000 and 600,000 soldiers,  often cited at 400,000. This latter number would make the Home Army not only the largest Polish underground resistance movement  but one of the three largest in Europe during WW2. The Home Army was disbanded on 19 January 1945, after the Soviet Red Army had largely cleared Polish territory of German forces.

Mirosław Ferić died on this day. He was a Polish fighter pilot serving under the RAF and a flying ace of World War II.  He was killed at RAF Northolt after his Spitfire (BL432) broke up at 3,000 feet (910 m). The resulting G-forces as the aircraft corkscrewed held him inside the cockpit and prevented him from bailing out.  During the Invasion of Poland in 1939, he served with Escadre No. 111, assigned to the Pursuit Brigade and defended Warsaw.  His PZL P.11c fighter was damaged in combat but he successfully bailed. He evacuated to Romania where he was arrested and interned but was able to escape and went to France. He flew Morane MS-406 fighters protecting aircraft works around Nantes. When France fell, he evacuated to English in June 1940.  He was assigned to the famous No. 303 Polish Fighter "Kosciuszko"  Squadron with the RAF  and flew Hawker Hurricanes. Feric entered service in the Battle of Britain on August 31, 1940.  He was the 11th ranked Polish fighter ace with 8 and 2/3 confirmed kills and 1 probable kill. From September 1939 he had kept a personal diary, which became No.303 Squadron's unit history. He was 27.


Polish and British representatives agreed on conditions and schedule for the expulsion of Germans from territories ceded to Poland to the British occupation zone at meeting of the Combined Repatriation Executive in Berlin. In accordance with the Potsdam Agreement, at the end of 1945 according to writings by Hahn & Hahn, 4.5 million Germans who had fled or been expelled were under the control of the Allied governments. From 1946–1950 around 4.5 million people were brought to Germany in organized mass transports from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. An additional 2.6 million released POWs were listed as expellees.

February 13, 2018




Bombing of Dresden:  In one of the more controversial events of the war, the bombing of Dresden began on February 13, 1945. Over a period of three days a total of 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices were dropped on the city.  British RAF Bomber Command decided to carry out the first raid and that it would be a double strike.  The second wave would attack three hours after the first contingent, and were done just as rescue teams were trying to put out the fires in the city. Multiple raids were launched during the night to confuse German air defenses. Three hundred and sixty heavy bombers (Lancasters and Halifaxes) bombed a synthetic oil plant in Böhlen, 60 miles (97 km) from Dresden, while de Havilland Mosquito medium bombers attacked Magdeburg, Bonn, Misburg near Hanover and Nuremberg. Polish pilot squadrons, attached to the RAF, participated in the raid.  Just as the Poles were preparing for the mission, the terms of the Yalta agreement were made known to them.  There was a huge uproar, since Churchill and Roosevelt at Yalta agreement bi-laterally handed parts of Polish territory over to Stalin.  The situation because extremely tense and hostile as there was talk of mutiny among the Polish pilots, and their British officers removed their side arms. The protest subsided when the Polish Government in Exile in London ordered the Polish pilots to follow orders and fly their missions over Dresden.  The destruction of the city provoked unease in some intellectual circles in Britain. Howard Cowan, an Associated Press war correspondent, subsequently filed a story saying that the Allies had resorted to terror bombing. British Air Commodore Colin McKay Grierson answered the accusation that the primary aim was to attack communications to prevent the Germans from moving military supplies, and to stop movement in all directions if possible. He then added in an offhand remark that the raid also helped destroy "what is left of German morale."


Marian Rejewski died. He was a Polish mathematician and cryptologist who in 1932, (along with his colleagues Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski) discovered the key to breaking the Enigma code, and constructed working copies of the Enigma machine. Seven years later at the outbreak of World War II, the Polish team gave the information to the British and French along with working copies of the Enigma machine. It gave the British SOE, the means with which to read the encrypted messages. The intelligence that was gained from it formed the basis of Ultra, (British espionage unit) and contributed to the defeat of Germany.


Solidarity activists Adam Michnik, Bogdan Lis, and Wladyslaw Frasyniuk were arrested on February 13, 1985 during a clandestine meeting headed by Lech Walesa, in which they were discussing plans for a work stoppage to protest against the government's  announcement of a 13% increase in food prices. They planned for a symbolic 15 minute strike slated for February 28, and Walesa was defiant to go ahead with plans despite the government threats. Walesa was charged with inciting public unrest and organizing illegal protests and was threatened with five year imprisonment.  He addressed more than 1,000 supporters who packed a courtyard outside St. Brigida's Church, telling them that  "The best sons of our land are being imprisoned and that is why this (strike) has to succeed,"   Walesa was joined by more than 5,000 worshipers for a Mass as a show of support for the three Solidarity activists arrested.

February 12, 2018




Nazis began deportation of German Jews to Poland. (Note: Approximately 100,000 German Jews were deported from the District Wartheland, Danzig-West Prussia, and East Upper Silesia since the latter part of 1939 until early 1940.) The deportations continued until May of 1943 when the Nazi regime declared that Germany was free of Jews. However, there remained fewer than 20,000 German Jews. They survived probably because they were half-Jewish, or because they found sanctuary with non-Jewish people.


Rommel in Africa:   German General Erwin Rommel arrived in Tripoli, Libya, with the newly formed Afrika Korps, to reinforce the beleaguered Italians’ position.  The fighting began in North Africa with the Italian declaration of war June 10, 1940. Four days later, the British Army's 11th Hussars (assisted by elements of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment, 1st RTR) crossed the border from Egypt into Libya and captured the Italian Fort Capuzzo.  This was followed by an Italian counter-offensive into Egypt and the capture of Sidi Barrani in September 1940 and again in December 1940 following a British Commonwealth counteroffensive, Operation Compass. During Operation Compass, the Italian 10th Army was destroyed and the German Afrika Korps, under the command of Rommel, earned the nickname, "The Desert Fox" was dispatched to North Africa in February 1941 during Operation Sonnenblume. Its mission was to reinforce Italian forces in order to prevent a complete Axis defeat. A series of battles ensued for control of Libya and regions of Egypt, and reached a climax in the Second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942 when British Commonwealth forces under the command of Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery inflicted a decisive defeat on Rommel's Afrika Korps and forced its remnants into Tunisia. After the Anglo-American landings (Operation Torch) in North-West Africa in November 1942, and subsequent battles against the armed forces of Vichy France forces (who then changed sides), the Allies encircled several thousand German and Italian personnel in northern Tunisia and finally forced their surrender in May 1943.

February 11, 2018




The Yalta Conference concluded. The "Big Three", Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin signed a joint declaration affirming guidelines for the end of the war and maintaining international security. Among the terms agreed upon were the unconditional surrender of Germany, followed by its demilitarization, and denazification,  as well as reparations.  Regarding the status of Poland, they agreed that its eastern border would be based on the Curzon Line, that the legitimate authority in Poland would be the communist Provisional Government( installed by the Soviet Union "on a broader democratic basis."), and that free elections would be held, according to Stalins' promises.

German submarine U-869 was depth charged and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean by U.S. destroyer escorts Howard D. Crow and Koiner.  It wasn't until September 2, 1991, that an unidentified U-boat wreck was discovered 73 meters (240 feet) deep off the coast of New Jersey.  The discoverers of the U-boat, John Chatterton, Richie Kohler, and Kevin Brennan, spent the next several years diving the wreck. Three divers, Steve Feldman, Chris Rouse and Chris Rouse, Jr., died while exploring during the expedition.  A few years later, they found part of the UZO torpedo aiming device, and spare parts from the motor room engraved with serial and other identifying numbers and on August 31, 1997 were able to conclude that the boat they found was U-869. The wreck lies just off the coast of New Jersey at the approximate coordinates of 39°32′56″N 73°19′56″W


Operation Deadlight was the code name for the Royal Navy operation to scuttle German U-boats surrendered to the Allies after the defeat of Germany near the end of World War II. Of the 156 U-boats that surrendered, 116 were scuttled as part of Operation Deadlight. The operation was carried out by the Royal Navy and it was planned to tow the submarines to three areas about 100 miles north-west of Ireland and sink them.  But by the time that the Operation got underway, many of the U-boats were in extremely deteriorated condition having been moored in exposed harbors while awaiting disposal. Consequently 56 of the boats sank before reaching the designated scuttling areas, and those which did, were generally sunk by gunfire rather than explosive charges.  The first sinking took place on  November 17, 1945 and the last on February 11, 1946.


As the result of a meeting of the Central Committee of the Polish Communist Party,  Polish Prime Minister Jozef Pinkowski was dismissed and replaced by General Wojciech Jaruzelski,  the Minister of Defense.  He was First Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party from 1981 to 1989, making him the last leader of the People's Republic of Poland. He served as Prime Minister from 1981 to 1985 and the country's head of state from 1985 to 1990 and as President from 1989 to 1990. He was also the last commander-in-chief of the Polish People's Army (LWP). He resigned after the Polish Round Table Agreement with Solidarity in 1989, which led to democratic elections in Poland.

February 10, 2018




Jozef Haller von Hallenburg performed a symbolic Wedding of Poland to the Sea, celebrating restitution of Polish access to open sea.  Present were the Minister of Internal Affairs, Stanisław Wojciechowski, and the new administration of the Pomeranian Province also came to Puck.  General Haller, at the ceremony, said, " As Venice so symbolized its marriage with the Adriatic so we Poles symbolize our marriage with our dear Baltic Sea." (Note: Haller was given command over the territory of Pomerania, which had been restored to Poland according to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Despite incidences of armed resistance and sabotage, the transfer of territory was achieved as planned.)


Hitler placed the Gestapo above the law. This meant that the Gestapo had full authority to investigate cases of treason, espionage, sabotage and criminal attacks on the Nazi Party and Germany. In effect these powers placed the Gestapo above the law.  According to Werner Best, an SS officer of the Gestapo, said, "As long as the police carries out the will of the leadership, it is acting legally."  Following Hitlers seizure of power, the SA and Gestapo went from door to door hunting for socialists, communists, trade union leaders, and anyone opposed the Nazi party. Many were arrested - some were killed. By the middle of 1933, the Nazi party was the only political party, and nearly all organized opposition to the regime was eliminated. Democracy was dead in Germany.


The German passenger liner SS General von Steuben was torpedoed and sunk in the Baltic Sea by Soviet submarine S-13, under the command of Alexander Marinesko, resulting in the loss of over 4,000 passengers. During World War II, she served as a troop accommodation ship, and since 1944 as an armed transport.  In the winter of 1945, East Prussian refugees fled from Konigsberg, heading west, and away the advancing Soviet troops. Thousands of Germans converged at the Baltic seaport of Pillau (now Baltiysk, Russia) trying to boards ships which would carry them to the relative safety to Western Germany. Steuben was among the fleet of ships sent to carry out this evacuation. On February  9, 1945,  the von Stuben sailed from Pillau for Swinemünde (now Świnoujście, Poland). According to official reports there were 2,800 wounded German soldiers; 800 civilians; 100 returning soldiers; 270 navy medical personnel (including doctors, nurses and auxiliaries); 12 nurses from Pillau; 64 crew for the ship's anti-aircraft guns, 61 naval personnel, radio operators, signal men, machine operators and administrators, plus 160 merchant navy crewmen: a total of 4,267 people on board. The total amount might easily have been around 5,200, because due to the rapid evacuation, many East German and Baltic refugees boarded the vessel without being recorded.  Moments before midnight of February 9th, Alexander Marinesko, captain of the Soviet submarine S-13, fired two torpedoes with a 14 second interval.  Both torpedoes hit Steuben in the Starboard bow, just below the bridge where many of the crew were sleeping. Most were killed by the impact of the torpedoes.  The Steuben sank by the bow and listed severely to starboard and within 20 minutes took the final plunge.  About 4,500 people died.  About 650 people were rescued by torpedo boat T-196 before the vessel disappeared.


Tadeusz Pankiewicz was awarded recognition as a "Righteous Among the Nations" for his wartime activities in rescuing Jews.  Under the German Nazi occupation of Poland during World War II, Podgórze district was closed off in March 1941 as a ghetto for local area Jewry. Within the walls of the Kraków Ghetto there were four prewar pharmacies owned by non-Jews. Pankiewicz was the only proprietor to decline the German offer of relocating to the gentile (non-Jewish) side of the city. He was given permission to continue operating his establishment as the only pharmacy in the Ghetto, and reside on the premises. Even though medicine was in short supply, Mr. Pankiewicz provided them to the Jews in the Krakow Ghetto (often free of charge) and together with his staff, risked their lives to shelter the Jews facing deportation to the camps.  The pharmacy was a hub of activity for clandestine operations and meeting place for the intelligentsia.

February 9, 2018




USSR, Estonia, Latvia, Poland & Romania signed Litvinov's Pact, providing for the immediate implementation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, thus formally renouncing war as a part of national policy among its signatories. Four other countries later formally adhered to the protocol: Lithuania, Finland, Persia, and Turkey. The pact was concluded in Moscow, named after its chief negotiator, Maxim Litvinov. (Note: The Kellogg-Briand Pact was an international agreement signed on August 27, 1928 in which signatory states promised not to use war to resolve "disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them". Parties failing to abide by this promise "should be denied of the benefits furnished by this treaty". Its primary signatories were Germany, France and the United States, later followed by most other nations.


Beginning of Mass Deportations of Polish citizens:  Following the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939, as per the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviet Union occupied over half of the territory of the Second Polish Republic (roughly 201,000 square kilometres (78,000 sq mi) inhabited by over 13,200,000 people). In the next few months, the Soviet NKVD rounded up and deported over 1 million Polish citizens.  There were four waves of deportations: on February 10  of more than 220,000 people who were deported to the far north and east in Russia, including Siberia and Khabarovsk Krai; on April 13, 1940, more than 320,000 people were deported to Kazakhstan;  the third wave in June to July 1940, resulted in deportation of more than 240,000 people; and the fourth and last wave occurred in June 1941 where more than 300,000 people were deported.


Black Friday: A force of Allied Bristol Beaufighter aircraft suffered heavy casualties during an unsuccessful attack on the German destroyer Z33 and its escorting vessels. The German ships were sheltered in a strong defensive position in Førde Fjord, Norway, forcing the Allied aircraft to attack through heavy anti-aircraft fire. The Allied fighter aircraft were intercepted by twelve German Focke-Wulf Fw 190. While the Allies were able to damage at least two of the German ships, they lost a total of nine Beaufighters shot down by enemy guns. Four or five German fighters were shot down by the Allied aircraft, including one flown by German Ace Rudi Linz.

Action of 9 February 1945:  The German U-864 submarine was detected and sunk west off the cost of Bergen, Norway by the British submarine HMS Venturer. To date this event remains the only time in history when one submarine has intentionally sunk another submarine while both were fully submerged. The battle ensued for a long period of time, and amidst unfamiliar circumstances. Allied Commander James Launders waited three quarters of an hour after first contact with the enemy vessel before taking battle stations. He anticipated that U-864 would surface and present itself as an easier target. But the enemy began evasive maneuvers. The Venturer was carrying only eight torpedoes while the U-864 had a total of 22.  After three hours, Launders gave the order to fire a spread of torpedos released at 12:12 followed by 17 second intervals and dove immediately to avoid any retaliatory hits. The U-864 dove even deeper upon hearing the torpedoes and was able to avoid the first three, but unknowingly came into the path of the forth torpedo. The enemy vessel split into two, and sank west of the island of Fedje. All 73 on board died. (PS: A Norwegian minesweeper discovered the wreck in October 2003. The vessel has been steadily leaking mercury into the water for decades contaminating the water and fisheries. When it sank, the U-864 had been transporting almost two thousand containers of mercury, intended for weapons production. Discussions are still continuing on the best way to entomb the vessel, rather than attempt a very dangerous salvage operation. It's not due only to the containers, but there may be live torpedoes in the wreck.)

February 8, 2018




Lodz, 1st large ghetto established by Nazis in Poland.(Note: It was the second-largest ghetto in all of German-occupied Europe after the Warsaw Ghetto). The ghetto was originally intended as a preliminary step towards the more extensive plan of creating the Judenfrei (free of Jews) province of Warthegau, but was transformed into a major industrial centre, using the prisoners as slave labor to manufacture war supplies for Nazi Germany. A total of 204,000 Jews passed through it but only 877 remained when the Soviets liberated it.


Demyansk Pocket was a pyrrhic victory for the Germans:  German troops were encircled by the Red Army in what was called the Demyansk Pocket, near Demyansk, Leningrad. The pocket existed between February 8 to 21 April 1942.  In March, German forces tried to maneuver through the "Ramushevo corridor". Soviet resistance on the Lovat River delayed II Corps' attack until April 14 but the corridor was widened over the next few weeks. On April 22, a battle group broke through the siege, resulting in very high casualties: Out of the approximately 100,000 men trapped, 10,000 were wounded and 3,335 missing.  Throughout the battle, the two pockets (including Kholm) received 65,000 short tons (59,000 t) of supplies (both through ground and aerial delivery), 31,000 replacement troops, and 36,000 wounded were evacuated. Supplies were delivered on a daily basis by over 100 flights of whitewashed Junkers Ju 52 transport aircraft at great cost. The Luftwaffe lost 265 aircraft, including 106 Junkers Ju 52, 17 Heinkel He 111 and two Junkers Ju 86 aircraft, and the loss of 387 airmen. (Fighting in the area continued until 28 February 1943. The Soviets did not liberate Demyansk until 1 March 1943, with the retreat of the German troops.)


SS Petrella was a German merchant ship, which was torpedoed and sunk on February 8,  1944, north of Souda Bay, Crete, killing about 2,670 of the Italian POWs aboard:  Crete was under occupation of German-Italian forces since since May 1941. About 21,000 troops of the Italian 51st Infantry Division Siena occupied the easternmost prefecture of Lasithi.  Following the armistice of September 1943 the Italians in Crete were disarmed, but were given the choice to remain allies with Germany, or be sent to the Reich as internees as forced labor.  The few who chose the former, formed the Legione Italiana Volontari Creta. Under Hitlers orders, the remaining Italian internees were shipped back to Germany in un-seaworthy vessels.  On February 8, 1944 3,173 prisoners had been crammed into the hull of the Petrella. The British submarine HMS Sportsman detected the ship and launched a torpedo, sinking the ship taking the lives of 2,670 prisoners. The high death toll was due to the fact that the guards did not open the holds where the POWs were contained, and that they fired on those trying to get out.


In the last stages of World War II, the Allies launched Operation Veritable:  The Operation was the northern part of an Allied pincer movement under the command of Montgomery's Anglo-Canadian 21st Army Group (First Canadian Army under Crerar) and the British XXX Corps under  Horrocks, and included the U.S. Ninth Army.  Their mission was to clear German forces from the area between the Rhine and Maas rivers, east of the German/Dutch frontier, in the Rhineland. The plan was part of General Eisenhower's "broad front" strategy to occupy the entire west bank of the Rhine before crossing it. Initially the Operation was slated for early January 1945, when the ground was frozen and advantageous to the Allies. The Operation faced a number of obstacles which impeded troops and armour, that is, the thick forested terrain, exacerbated by muddy ground which had thawed. Added to the difficulties was the deliberate flooding of the adjacent Rhine flood plain by the Germans.  Secondly, Veritable was the northern arm of a pincer movement. The southern pincer arm, Operation Grenade, commanded by Hood Simpson's U.S. Ninth Army, was postponed for two weeks as a result of the higher river levels (the Germans released the waters from the Roer dams). Allied military action came to a virtual halt until the water subsided.

February 7, 2018




President Roosevelt asked Stalin not to allow the Polish border issue to undermine future international co-operation. Roosevelt proposed that the Polish Prime Minister Stanislaw Mikołajczk accept the desired territorial changes and then be allowed to alter the makeup of his government without any evidence of foreign pressure. (Note:  Winston Churchill also intensely pressured the Polish Prime Minister to resume talks with Stalin,, but Mikolajczk refused to comply due to several issues regarding the Katyn Massacre,  Poland's postwar borders, and most particularly opposition to Stalin's plan for a communist government in postwar Poland.

Telegram (no. 236) Feb 7, 1944 7pm:  From President Roosevelt to the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Soviet Union ( Stalin )  " I have followed with the closest attention the recent developments in your relations with Poland. I feel that I am fully aware of your views on the subject and am therefore taking this opportunity of communicating with you on the basis of our conversations at Tehran.  First of all, let me make it plain that I neither desire nor intend to attempt to suggest much less to advise you in any way as to where the interests of Russia lie in this matter since I realize to the full that the future security of your country is rightly your primary concern. The observations which I am about to make are prompted solely by the larger issues which affect the common goal towards which we are both working.       The overwhelming majority of our people and Congress, as you know, welcomed with enthusiasm the broad principles subscribed to at the Moscow and Tehran Conferences........ I am sure that a solution can be found which would fully protect the interests of Russia and satisfy your desire to see a friendly, independent Poland, and at the same time not adversely affect the cooperation so splendidly established at Moscow and Tehran......... I have given careful consideration to the views of your Government as outlined by Mr. Molotov to Mr. Harriman on January 18, regarding the impossibility from the Soviet point of view of having any dealings with the Polish Government-in-exile in its present form and Mr. Molotov’s suggestion that the Polish Government should be reconstituted by the inclusion of Polish elements at present in the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. I fully appreciate your desire to deal only with a Polish Government......(that would) establish permanent friendly relations with the Soviet Union, but it is my earnest hope that while this problem remains unsolved neither party shall by hasty word or unilateral act transform this special question into one adversely affecting the larger issues of future international collaboration......... Prime Minister Churchill tells me that he is endeavoring to persuade the Polish Prime Minister to make a clean-cut acceptance as a basis for negotiation of the territorial changes which have been proposed by your Government. Is it not possible on that basis to arrive at some answer to the question of the composition of the Polish Government which would leave it to the Polish Prime Minister himself to make such changes in his Government as may be necessary without any evidence of pressure or dictation from a foreign country?   As a matter of timing it seems to me that the first consideration at this time should be that Polish guerillas should work with and not against your advancing troops. That is of current importance and some assurance on the part of all Poles would be of great advantage as a first step. "  Roosevelt


The "Angel of Death" died.   Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi doctor who performed medical experiments at the Auschwitz death camps, died of a stroke while swimming in Brazil, however, the death was not verified until 1985.  During World War II he was the physician in Auschwitz concentration camp and part of a team of doctors in charge of selecting prisoners to be killed in the gas chambers and for performing deadly human experiments on prisoners.  Arrivals who were deemed unfit for labor were immediately killed in the gas chambers. Mengele escaped Auschwitz on January 17, 1945, shortly before the arrival of the liberating Soviet troops. He fled to South America where he evaded capture for the rest of his life. Mengele's experiments with eyes included attempts to change eye color by injecting chemicals into the eyes of living subjects and killing people with heterochromatic eyes so that the eyes could be removed and sent to Berlin for study.  His experiments on dwarfs and people with physical abnormalities included taking physical measurements, drawing blood, extracting healthy teeth, and treatment with unnecessary drugs and X-rays. Many of the victims were sent to the gas chambers after about two weeks, and their skeletons were sent to Berlin for further study. Mengele sought out pregnant women, on whom he would perform experiments before sending them to the gas chambers. Witness Vera Alexander described how he sewed two Romani twins together back to back in an attempt to create conjoined twins. The children died of gangrene after several days of suffering.  (Note:  He is buried in Embu das Artes under the name "Wolfgang Gerhard", whose identification card he had been using since 1971.)


The Central Committee of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party agreed to endorse President Mikhail Gorbachev’s recommendation that the party give up its 70-year long monopoly of political power.  The move signaled the imminent demise of the Soviet Union. The February Central Committee Plenum advocated multi-party elections; local elections held between February and March returned a large number of pro-independence candidates. The Congress of People's Deputies then amended the Soviet Constitution in March, removing Article 6, which guaranteed the monopoly of the CPSU.  One State Department official commented that, “The whole Soviet world is going down the drainpipe with astonishing speed. It’s mind-boggling.” Former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger commented that he was “personally gratified and astonished that anyone would have the chance to say such things in Moscow without being shot.”

February 6, 2018




Coronation of King Wladyslaw IV Vasa on February 6, 1633. Władysław was successful in defending the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth against invasion, most notably in the Smolensk War of 1632–34, in which he participated personally. He supported religious tolerance and carried out military reforms, such as the founding of the Commonwealth Navy. He was also a renowned patron of the arts and music. He failed, however, to realize his dreams of regaining the Swedish crown,  and gained fame by defeating the Ottoman Empire, strengthened royal power, and reformed the Commonwealth.


Roman Czerniawski (dob) was a Polish Air Force Captain and Allied double agent during World War II, using the code name Brutus.  In 1940 he volunteered to create an allied espionage network in France. He established it with Mathilde Carré who recruited the agents as some French declined to work for a Pole. This network was code-named Interallie. After the Fall of France, he evacuated to England where he met General Sikorski, who decorated him with Poland's highest award, the Virtuti Militari. But on November 17, 1941, Czerniawski parachuted back into France. He was immediately arrested by the Nazi Germans, and imprisoned along with others. Apparently, Mathilde had been captured and agreed to cooperate with the Nazis, in order that her life be spared. Subsequently, the Germans offered him safety and sent him to England as an agent. MI5 took him into employ as a Double Agent using the code name "Brutus".  He was arrested again for an act of mutiny against Polish authority, and imprisoned for a couple of months.


Only 800 Jews Survived in Lodz; 70,000 were killed by Germans since Russian Offensive:  Journalists description of events: " ...Of the 250,000 Jews who resided in Lodz before the war, and the tens of thousands who were here there from all parts of occupied Europe, only 800 survived, the correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency found upon arriving in this industrial center...  From survivors, the correspondent learned that the Germans had sent almost 70,000 Jews from Lodz to the death camp of Oswiecim since last August, when the Red Army broke through to the Vistula River. When deportations were no longer possible, the Gestapo murdered Jews in the ghetto itself. As late as January 16, when Russian tanks were already breaking into the outskirts of the city, the last batch of victims were machine gunned in the Jewish cemetery after being forced to dig their own graves. As this correspondent walked through the vast barbed-wire-enclosed slum area which constituted the ghetto he found many empty house in which tables were set for dinner, with the food untouched. The inhabitants had been dragged to their death in the last minute frenzied massacres that preceded the fall of the city..."


The Round Table Talks began on February 6, 1989 at 2:23 pm CET.   The Solidarity opposition delegation negotiated with officials of the communist Polish government, in the Council of Ministers Office. The meetings, co-chaired by Lech Wałęsa and Kiszczak, resulted in radical changes in the shape of Polish government and society, establishing semi-free elections in 1989. By the end of August 1989 a Solidarity-led coalition government was formed, and in December 1990 Walesa was elected President.  It gave momentum to events in Poland which led to the fall of the European communist bloc. The communist governmental system was dismantled, and Poland emerged into a modern, and independent democratic nation state.  Consequently, the Yalta accords from World War Two, became null and void. 

February 5, 2018




Polish government announced the creation of the Central Industrial Region. (Note: The Central Industrial District (COP) was an industrial region in Poland and one of the largest economic projects of the Second Polish Republic. The project was initiated by Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski, a brilliant economist, who was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Treasury.  He planned a heavy industrial center in the very center of the country to strengthen the Polish economy and reduce unemployment.  The development was scheduled to commence September 1, 1936 and be completed by July 30, 1940. But it was interrupted by the German invasion of Poland on September 1st, 1939, starting World War Two. At the end of the war in 1945,  the COP project resumed and was expanded under the Soviet-controlled People's Republic of Poland.


Nazi Germany passed The Law on the Profession of Auctioneer which excluded Jews from the profession.


Soviet forces crossed the Oder at Brzeg, causing considerable destruction in its path.   (Note:  In accordance with the Yalta and Potsdam agreements, the area was annexed by Poland.  The town's German population was subsequently resettled , and replaced with Polish settlers from the Eastern Borderlands and Central Poland. Since 1950 the reconstructed town has been a part of the Opole Voivodeship in Poland.)


Communist Boleslaw Bierut was elected President of the Polish Republic and held office from 1947 to 1952.  After the abolition of the Presidency, and the creation of the Peoples Republic of Poland, he served as Prime Minister.  He was also the first Secretary General of the ruling Polish United Workers Party from 1948 to 1956.  But he is most known and hated for his role in the outcome of many trials of Polish wartime military leaders, including General Stanislaw Tator and Brig. General Emil August Fieldorf, as well as 40 members of the Wolnosc i Niezawislosc (Freedom and Independence organization),  numerous church officials, and other opponents of the new regime - including the Hero of Auschwitz, Witold Pilecki.  They were all condemned to death during secret trials - to which Bierut signed many of those death sentences.

February 4, 2018




Tadeusz Kościuszko (dob) was a Polish-Lithuanian military engineer and a military leader who became a national hero in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and the United States. He fought in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth's uprisings against Russia and Prussia, and on the American side in the American Revolutionary War. As Supreme Commander of the Polish National Armed Forces, he led the 1794 Kościuszko Uprising. The Polish Military divisions have honored his memory by naming their units after him - the Kosciusko Squadron (which participated in the Battle of Britain during WW2),  a Polish Navy ship and a Polish infantry division. There are monuments to Kosciuszko around the world:  the Kosciuszko Mound at Krakow; the Thaddeus Kosciusko Bridge, near Albany, New York; Kosciuszko Bridge in New York City;  a statue of Kościuszko in Washington, D.C.'s Lafayette Square near the White House; Mount Kosciuszko, the tallest mountain in Australia; and numerous statutes of Kosciuszko in Poland, as well as in US cities such as Boston, Chicago, West Point, Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C.


Yalta conference took place at the Livadia Palace near Yalta in Crimea, Soviet Union at which President Franklin Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Marshal Joseph Stalin presided.  Ideally, Yalta was meant to shape a post-war Europe based on peace and collective security, and self-determination for countries which had been liberated from Nazi occupation.  But Churchill and Roosevelt gave into Stalins' demands for the sake of peace and security.  Consequently, many European nations, including Poland fell under the yoke of Soviet domination and occupation.   The Allies won the war, but one of their greatest allies - Poland - was used as a bargaining chip to placate Stalin.

February 3, 2018




Berlin suffered its worst air raid of the war when 1,500 USAAF bombers dropped more than 23,000 tons of bombs on the city.  British bombers dropped 45,517 tons of bombs. The raid was led by USAAF Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Rosenthal,  a highly decorated Jewish-American  of the 100th Bombardment Group, who commanded the entire First Air Division's bomber for the raid. Friedrichstadt (the newspaper district), and Luisenstadt (both divided between the boroughs of Kreuzberg and Mitte, the central area) and some other areas, such as Friedrichshain, were severely damaged. The bombs used in this raid consisted mostly of high explosive ordnance and not incendiary munitions.  The bombing was so dense that it caused a city fire spreading eastwards, driven by the wind, over the south of Friedrichstadt and the northwest of neighboured Luisenstadt. The fire lasted for four days until it had burnt everything combustible in its range to ashes.

The Soviets completed the Sandomierz–Silesian Offensive, which was part of the Soviet Vistula-Oder Offensive. This offensive was initiated on January 12, starting from the Sandomierz Bridgehead led by Konev of the 1st Ukrainian Front. Within 6 days they broke through the German front on the length of 250k and advanced from 120 to 150k; near the end of the offensive the Soviets approached Breslau (Wrocław) and begun crossing of the Oder (Odra) river.

February 2, 2018




Kazimierz Kuratowski was born on this day.  He was a Polish mathematician, a logician and a leading representative of the Warsaw School of Mathematics. He made numerous contributions in the field of mathematics. Kuratowski was an active member of many scientific societies and foreign scientific academies, including the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy and the USSR. During World War II, he gave lectures at the underground university in Warsaw, since higher education for Poles was forbidden under German occupation. After World War II, Kuratowski was actively involved in the rebuilding of scientific life in Poland. He helped to establish the State Mathematical Institute, which was incorporated into the Polish Academy of Sciences in 1952. From 1948 until 1967 Kuratowski was director of the Institute of Mathematics of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and was also a long-time chairman of the Polish and International Mathematics Societies. He was president of the Scientific Council of the State Institute of Mathematics (1968–1980). From 1948 to 1980 he was the head of the topology section. One of his students was Andrzej Mostowski.


Germans surrendered to Russian troops at Stalingrad in the first big defeat of Hitler's armies. The Battle of Stalingrad was the single largest and bloodiest battle in the history of warfare.  (2.2 million troops; 1.7 to 2 million killed,wounded or captured.)  The Germans were starving, and running out of ammunition, but continued to resist, in part because they feared that the Soviets would execute any who surrendered. In particular, the so-called HiWis, (Soviet citizens fighting for the Germans), knew their fate if captured. Bloody urban warfare began again in Stalingrad, and the Soviets pushed the Germans back to the banks of the Volga. The Germans adopted a simple defense of fixing wire nets over all windows to protect themselves from grenades. But the Soviets out-witted them by attaching fish hooks to the grenades so they stuck on the nets when thrown. After five months, one week, and three days, the Army High Command had to withdraw vast military forces from the West to replace their losses.


The Vistula–Oder Offensive ended in Soviet victory. The Vistula–Oder Offensive took place on the Eastern Front in the European Theatre and ended with the fall of Krakow, Warsaw and Poznań.  The Soviets had strong positions around several key bridgeheads, with two fronts commanded by Marshal Zhukov and Marshal Konev. The Germans were outnumbered 5 to 1 and, and within days evacuated the concentration camps, forcing prisoners on their death marches toward the west. In less than two weeks, the Russians advanced 300 miles from the Vistula to the Oder. They were only 43 miles from Berlin which was left undefended, but Zhukov called a halt, and delayed the advance until April (due to continued German resistance on his northern flank (Pomerania).

February 1, 2018




German soldiers executed Polish patients by firing squad and by revolver.  Victims included were 400 patients of a psychiatric hospital in Chelm and from Owinska. In Pomerania, they were transported to a military fortress in Poznan and gassed with carbon monoxide in the bunkers of Fort VII, including children as well as women whom the authorities classified as Polish prostitutes. Other Owinska hospital patients were gassed in sealed trucks using exhaust fumes. The same method was utilized in the Kochanówka hospital near Lódz, where 840 persons were killed in 1940, totaling 1,126 victims in 286 clinics. This was the first "successful" test of the mass murder of Poles using gas. The Nazis later perfected the technique on many other psychiatric patients in Poland and in Germany. Beginning in 1941, the technique was widely used in the extermination camps. Nazi gas vans were also first used in 1940 to kill Polish mentally ill children.

SS-Reichsführer Himmler ordered inspections of potential sites for a planned concentration camp. Among those inspected was the camp at Oswiecim, Poland, known in German as Auschwitz. By June 1940,  Auschwitz became the main concentration camp for Poles. Himmler declared that "All Polish specialists will be exploited in our military-industrial complex. Later, all Poles will disappear from this world. It is imperative that the great German nation considers the elimination of all Polish people as its chief task."  Hitler confirmed this when he demanded the liquidation of "all leading elements in Poland".


Henryk Wolinski became head of the "Jewish Department" in the Bureau of Information and Propaganda of the AK Home Army (Polish Underground) and provided the Polish Government in Exile with information about the mass deportations from the Warsaw ghetto to Treblinka. He received daily reports from Polish men working the railways of the number of trains and people that were deported in them.  Woliński is known to have been a strong voice in the AK command and he supported any action to save the Jews. He headed a Żegota cell that saved almost 300 Jews and he himself harbored in his apartment over 25 Jews for a period from a few days to several weeks.

Vichy France was a Nazi collaborator.  Numerous laws were decreed, along the lines of the Nuremberg laws, to strip all rights from the Jews. In early February 1942,  all telephones and radios were confiscated from Jewish homes, and a curfew on the Jews was enforced by the local police. The Vichy government also enforced the legal requirement that Jews not appear in public places, and ride only on the last car of the Parisian metro.  After the Fall of France in June 1940, the French government agreed to an armistice with Hitler, in which the country was divided between the Nazi-occupied zones in the North and West, and the unoccupied "free zone" to the south under the administrative control of the Vichy government.  They supported the Nazi plan for the "Final Solution" of the Jews, and had deported a total of 75,000 Jews, many of them children, to concentration camps in France and Germany.


Operation Kutschera was the code name used by the Polish Home Army (Underground) for the
assassination of Franz Kutschera, an SS-Brigadeführer and Generalmajor der SS heading the police in the Warsaw district. He was successfully killed by a combat sabotage unit of the Polish underground unit code-named, Kedyw, of the Home Army (predecessor of Battalion Parasol) mainly manned by members of scouting and guiding Gray Ranks. The mission was named Operation Heads (Glowki)


Soviet forces reached Liebenow. Before  World War II, the village was part of Germany. Today it is the administrative district of Gmina Lubiszyn in Gorzow County, Lubusz Voivodeship, in western Poland.

January 31, 2018




Piotr Wilniewczyc (dob) was a Polish engineer and arms designer. Among his most successful designs were the Vis-35 pistol, commonly known as the Radom for the arsenal in which it was produced, and the Mors sub-machine gun. During the war, Wilniewczyc worked with the Home Army in Warsaw, developing a silencer for the Sten gun.


SS Einsatzgruppe A reported a tally of 229,052 Jews killed (location unknown). Einsatzgruppen were squads composed primarily of German SS and police personnel. Under the command of the German Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei; Sipo) and Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst; SD) officers, the Einsatzgruppen had among their tasks the murder of those perceived to be racial or political enemies found behind German combat lines in the occupied Soviet Union. Victims included Jews, Roma (Gypsies), and officials of the Soviet state and the Soviet Communist party. The Einsatzgruppen also murdered thousands of residents of institutions for the mentally and physically disabled. At first the Einsatzgruppen shot primarily Jewish men. By late summer 1941, however, wherever the Einsatzgruppen went, they shot Jewish men, women, and children without regard for age or sex, and buried them in mass graves. Often with the help of local informants and interpreters, Jews in a given locality were identified and taken to collection points. Thereafter they were marched or transported by truck to the execution site, where trenches had been prepared. In some cases the captive victims had to dig their own graves. After the victims had handed over their valuables and undressed, men, women, and children were shot, either standing before the open trench, or lying face down in the prepared pit.

January 30, 2018




The Holy Roman Empire and Poland concluded the Peace of Bautzen. It was a treaty between the Ottonian Holy Roman Emperor Henry II and the Piast duke of the Polans Bolesław I Chrobry which ended a series of Polish-German wars over the control of Lusatia and Upper Lusatia (Milzenerland or Milsko, the eastern part of the margraviate of Meissen (Miśnia)) as well as Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia.


Treaty or Truce of Andrusovo was signed between Tsardom of Russia & Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth


Henryk Władysław Magnuski (dob) was a Polish telecommunications engineer who worked for Motorola in Chicago. He was the inventor of the first Walkie-Talkies and one of the authors of his company success in the fields of radio communication.


President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler as Chancellor of Germany.


General Felicjan Slawoj-Skladkowski toured northeastern Poland – counties of Braslaw, Swieciany, Dzisna, and Postawy. concentrated his efforts on improving the state administration, especially police force and civil services. He frequently toured Poland, visiting schools, police stations, manufacturing plants and farm estates.


Hitler made a speech to the Reichstag on the sixth anniversary of the Nazis' coming to power, warning that if "Jewish financiers" started a war, the result would be "the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe."


On the twelfth anniversary of the Nazis coming to power, a speech by Adolf Hitler was broadcast wearily appealing once again for the German people to keep up a spirit of resistance. It was the last speech Hitler ever made.

While evacuating German civilians, Nazi officials and military personnel from Gdynia, the German military transport ship Wilhelm Gustloff was torpedoed and sunk by the Soviet submarine S-13. 9,400 people died, making it the largest loss of life in a single ship sinking in history.

President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met at Malta for four day discussions preparatory to next week's Yalta Conference.

The German historical film Kolberg premiered in Berlin. The film told the story of the Prussian city of Kolberg successfully holding out against a siege by the French during the Napoleonic Wars. It was intended as Nazi propaganda to encourage the German population to continue the fight against the Allies.

January 29, 2018




Roman Dmowski made a concerted bid at the Peace Conference for the restoration of Poland's pre-partition boundaries. As a Polish delegate at the Paris Peace Conference and a signatory of the Versailles Treaty, Dmowski wielded considerable influence. At the meeting, Dmowski stated that he had little interest in laying claim to areas of Ukraine and Lithuania that were formerly part of Poland, but no longer had a Polish majority. But he pressed for the return of Polish territories , ie those with Polish-speaking majorities taken by Prussia from Poland in 1790s. Dmowski was disappointed with the Treaty of Versailles partly because he was strongly opposed to the Minority Rights Treaty imposed on Poland and partly because he wanted the German-Polish border to be somewhat farther to the west than what the Versailles had allowed.


Germany renamed Reichsgau Posen, in occupied Poland, to Reichsgau Wartheland.  It comprised the region of Greater Poland and adjacent areas. Parts of Warthegau matched the similarly named pre-Versailles Prussian province of Posen. The name was initially derived from the capital city, Posen (Poznań), and later from the main river, Warthe (Warta). The Governor of Reichsgau Wartheland, Arthur Greiser, embarked on a program of complete removal of the formerly Polish citizenry upon his nomination by Heinrich Himmler. The plan also entailed the re-settling of ethnic Germans from the Baltic and other regions into farms and homes formerly owned by Poles and Jews. He also authorized the clandestine operation of exterminating 100,000 Polish Jews (about one-third of the total Jewish population of Wartheland), in the process of the region's complete "Germanization.


Heinrich Himmler issued a directive that established the SS Sonderkommando Dirlewanger as a volunteer formation of the SS. This formation, which drew its personnel from concentration camps and hardened criminals, would become notorious for its war crimes against civilians in Poland. (Note: They were referred to as the Dirlewanger Brigade. On August 5, 1944, they killed 35,000 Polish men, women, and children. The commander of the unit, Oskar Dirlewanger. Historians have described him as "a psychopathic killer and child molester" by Steven Zaloga, "violently sadistic" by Richard Rhodes, "an expert in extermination and a devotee of sadism and necrophilia" by J. Bowyer Bell, and "a sadist and necrophiliac" by Bryan Mark Rigg.According to Timothy Snyder, "in all the theaters of the Second World War, few could compete in cruelty" with Dirlewanger.


Nazis ordered all Gypsies arrested and sent to extermination camps. The Nazis referred to the Romani people as "a-socials" or "habitual criminals" and sent them to concentration camps. Nearly every concentration camp in Germany had Romani prisoners. In the camps, all prisoners were forced to wear markings of various shapes and colors, which identified them by category of prisoner. Roma wore black triangular patches, the symbol for "a-socials," or green ones, the symbol for "professional" criminals.


Koniuchy Massacre was perpetrated by Soviet partisan units under the command of the Central Partisan Command in Moscow. The raid was carried out by over 100 partisans from various units, which included 30 Jewish partisans from the "Avengers" and "To Victory" units (under the command of Jacob (Yaakov) Prenner.  According to the findings of the Institute of National Remembrance, at least 38 Polish men, women and children were murdered indiscriminately and homes destroyed. (Note: There remains controversies about the Koniuchy Massacre, that is, some historians believe that Koniuchy was a "pro-German" town that was used as a staging ground for German attacks against the partisans.)


German submarine U-763 was scuttled in the Schichau-Werke shipyard in Königsberg after being damaged in a Soviet air raid. ( On February 4, 1944, U-763 shot down a RAF Liberator bomber of 53 Squadron in the Bay of Biscay. The next day, she successfully warded off three separate air attacks by the RAF, resulting in damage to a Liberator of 53 Squadron, a Wellington bomber of 172 Squadron and the loss of a Halifax bomber from 502 Squadron. She was also part of the wolf pack (Rugen 3)

January 28, 2018




Articles of Warsaw Confederation were signed, ushering in freedom of religion in Poland. It was an important development in the history of Poland and Lithuania that extended religious tolerance to nobility and free persons within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and is considered the formal beginning of religious freedom in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. While it did not prevent all conflict based on religion, it did make the Commonwealth a much safer and more tolerant place than most of contemporaneous Europe, especially during the subsequent Thirty Years' War.


Anti-Semitic riots at University of Warsaw and Warsaw University of Technology.


Message from Churchill to Roosevelt:  " London, 28 January 1944  no. 557  "  After much thought and talk I have sent the following signal to U. J. (U.J. referred to Uncle Joe, nickname for Stalin)  (1) ....... I saw representatives of the Polish Government in London...(and)....informed them that the security of the Russian frontiers against Germany was a matter of high consequence...... and that we should certainly support the Soviet Union in all measures we considered necessary......  I said that although we had gone to war for the sake of Poland, we had not gone to war for any particular frontier line but for the existence of a strong free, independent Poland, which Marshal Stalin had also declared himself supporting. ....... (T)he liberation of Poland....is being achieved... by the enormous sacrifices and achievements of the Russian armies. Therefore Russia and her Allies had a right to ask that Poland should be guided....about the frontiers of the territory she would have.  (2) ........ I made it clear that the Polish Government would not be committed to the acceptance of the Curzon line as a basis of examination except as part of the arrangement which gave them the fine compensations to the North (East Prussia) and to the West (Oder Line) which I had mentioned.  (4) The Polish ministers were very far from rejecting the prospects...... but...they have asked a number of questions...... in particular they wish to be assured that Poland would be free and independent.....that she would receive the guarantee of the Great Powers against German revenge effectively..... that these Great Powers would also assist in expelling the Germans from the new territories to be assigned to Poland.... that in regions to be incorporated in Soviet Russia such Poles....would be assisted to depart from their new abodes......what (would) their position... be if a large part of Poland West of the Curzon line is soon occupied by the advancing Soviet armies.... Will they be allowed to go back and form a more broad based government in accordance with the popular wish and allowed to function administratively in the liberated areas in the same way as other governments who have been overrun? ......they are.....deeply concerned about relations between the Polish underground movement and the advancing Soviet forces,..... (7)........the Soviet Russia has the right to recognize or refuse recognition to any foreign government, (but) do you not agree that to advocate changes within a foreign government comes near to that interference with internal sovereignty to which you and I have expressed ourselves as opposed? .........(8). I now report this conversation which expresses the policy of His Majesty’s Government....to my friend and comrade, Marshal Stalin.........a good relationship will be absolutely necessary between .....Poland and the Soviet Union. The creation in Warsaw of another Polish government different from the one we have recognized up to the present, together with disturbances in Poland, would raise issues in Great Britain and the United States detrimental to that close accord between the Three Great Powers upon which the future of the world depends..... "


Katowice Trade Hall roof collapsed at Chorzów, 65 killed. At 16:15 GMT (17:15 local time), the central section of the roof of the hall collapsed, possibly due to the weight of snow on the building. According to the police there were roughly 700 people in the hall at the time of the collapse. A further collapse occurred 90 minutes later during rescue operations. Polish government spokesman Krzysztof Mejer confirmed that there had been 65 dead as well as more than 170 injured, including 13 foreigners. There are confirmed deaths of ten foreign tourists – one from Belgium, one from Germany, three from Slovakia, one from the Netherlands, one from Hungary and three from the Czech Republic. . Poland was at that time experiencing very cold weather with heavy snow. This meant that the rescue operation was undertaken in sub-zero temperatures, putting the survivors inside the building at risk of exposure.

January 27, 2018




Walerian Łukasiński, (15 April 1786 in Warsaw – 27 January 1868 in Shlisselburg) was a Polish officer and political activist. The Russian Imperial authorities denounced him as a traitor for his involvement with secret conspirational organizations, and he was arrested by the Russian authorities and sentenced to 7 years of hard labour in Zamość. For participation in the prisoners revolt against inhumane conditions, he was accused of being one of the ringleaders (without much proof) and his sentence was doubled to 14 years. Though he served his time, he was never released and remained incarcerated. He died after 46 years of solitary confinement and became a symbol of the Polish struggle for independence.


Jan Nagórski (dob) was a Polish engineer and pioneer of aviation, the first person to fly an airplane in the Arctic and the first aviator to perform a loop with a flying boat. His achievements proved that the North Pole could be reached by airplane. In 1955, Naorski attended one of the lectures of Czesław Centkiewicz, a renowned Polish polar explorer and author. Centkiewicz gave the audience a short biographical note of a "long-forgotten pioneer of aviation, pilot Jan Nagórski who died in 1917". Nagórski, who was seated in the audience, stood up and announced that he was not Russian and definitely not dead.


The German government demanded at least 1 million industrial and rural workers be provided from Nazi-occupied Poland to work assignments in the Reich.


Red Army liberated Auschwitz and Birkenau.Only 7,500 of the camp's inmates were found alive. By this time, an estimated 2,000,000 persons, including 1,500,000 Jews, had been murdered there.

German submarine U-1172 was sunk in St Georges Channel by depth charges from British frigates HMS Tyler, HMS Keats and HMS Bligh at 52°24′N 05°42′W.

The Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front captured Katowice and Leszno.

January 26, 2018




Venice, Poland and Austria signed the Treaty of Carlowitz with Ottoman Empire. It marked the end of Ottoman control in much of Central Europe, with their first major territorial losses after centuries of expansion, and established the Habsburg Monarchy as the dominant power in Central and southeast Europe. The Austrian Empire acquired about 60,000 square miles (160,000 km2) of Hungarian territories at Karlowitz and of the Banat of Temesvár 18 years later, at Passarowitz, thus cementing Austria as a dominant regional power. (Note: Today Austria has 32,386 sq mi or 83,879 km2)


Stanislaw I of Poland abdicated his throne. In compensation, he received the Duchy of Lorraine and of Bar, which was to revert to France on his death. In 1738, he sold his estates of Rydzyna and Leszno to Count (later Prince) Alexander Joseph Sułkowski. He settled at Lunéville, founded there in 1750 both the Académie de Stanislas and Bibliothèque municipale de Nancy, and devoted himself for the rest of his life to science and philanthropy, engaging most notably in controversy with Rousseau. He also published Głos wolny wolność ubezpieczający, one of the most important political treatises of the Polish Enlightenment.


First Sejm Election of the Second Polish Republic: The elections, based on universal suffrage and proportional representation, was the first free election of Poland (after 123 years of oblivion). It produced a parliament balanced between the right, left and center, although the elections were boycotted by the Polish communists and the Jewish Bund. In the territories where the election took place, voter turnout was from 70% to 90%. Right-wing parties won 50% of votes, left-wing parties around 30%, and Jewish organizations more than 10%.


The German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact was signed between Nazi Germany and the Second Polish Republic.  According to the pact, both countries pledged to resolve their problems through bilateral negotiations and to forgo armed conflict for a period of ten years. It effectively normalized relations between Poland and Germany, which were previously strained by border disputes arising from the territorial settlement in the Treaty of Versailles. As a consequence of the treaty, Germany agreed to recognize Poland's borders, and moved to end an economically damaging customs war which existed between the two countries during the previous decade. On April 28, 1939, Hitler unilaterally abrogated the pact, and invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.


General Tadeusz Kutrzeba, while presenting a plan of possible military conflict with Nazi Germany, emphasized that the Wehrmacht was three times stronger than the Polish Army. During the invasion of Poland in September 1939, General Kutrzeba commanded the Poznań Army,devised the Polish counterattack plan of the battle of Bzura and commanded the Poznań and Pomorze Armies during the battle. In the aftermath, at the behest of major general Juliusz Rómmel (commander of the Warsaw Army), Kutrzeba began capitulation negotiations with the German 8th Army and signed the surrender documents on September 28. He spent the rest of the war in German concentration camps, until the American forces liberated him. In April 1945 he turned down the position of Minister of Defense in the Government-in-Exile. He chose instead to head a commission which focused on the history of the Polish Army’s military campaign in September 1939, and the contributions of Polish soldiers fighting in the West from 1939 to 1945.


Przyszowice Massacre was perpetrated by the Red Army against civilians of the Polish village of Przyszowice in Upper Silesia (from January 26 to January 28, 1945.) The Soviet soldiers set several dozen houses on fire, looting the village and raping women. They began shooting at the civilians who were trying to extinguish the flames. Over 60 civilians were brutally murdered. Among the victims were four former prisoners of the Auschwitz concentration camp who had escaped from a death march the previous day. With the exception of an Italian and Hungarian, the remainder of the victims were Polish civilians, including two former soldiers of the Polish Army, who had recently been freed by the Soviets from a POW camp.

January 25, 2018




Witold Roman Lutosławski (dob) was a Polish composer and orchestral conductor. He was one of the major European composers of the 20th century, and one of the preeminent Polish musicians during his last three decades. He earned many international awards and prizes. His compositions (of which he was a notable conductor) include four symphonies, a Concerto for Orchestra, a string quartet, instrumental works, concertos, and orchestral song cycles.


Czechoslovak government ordered its troops to seize key industrial areas of Cieszyn.


Poland signed the Treaty of Non-aggression with the Soviet Union. The Treaty was intended to normalize the bilateral contacts with the Soviet Union, and fortify the Polish gains of the Peace of Riga. It was to be balanced by a similar pact signed with Germany.


Nazi decrees established Jewish ghetto in Lodz Poland. About 160,000 Jews, more than a third of the city's population, were forced into a small area. The ghetto was sealed with barbed wire fences. Special Nazi police guarded the perimeter, while the interior was guarded by the notorious Jewish Ghetto Police.

The Nazi Germans chose the site near the village of Oswiecim (Auschwitz) for the construction of a concentration camp.

January 24, 2018




Jews were banned from the German Labor Front. After Hitler's rise to power, the National Socialist trade union organization which replaced the various independent trade unions of the Weimar Republic. Many of the labor union leaders were imprisoned and sent to concentration camps, and the money in union coffers, which were the workers money, was confiscated by the Nazi party. Membership to the German Labor Front was mandatory, and even a patriotic duty. Jews were excluded.


Hermann Goring was instructed to set up an organization in Germany similar to the Zentralstelle in Austria. The German office was called the Reichzentralstelle fuer Juedische Auswanderung, Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration, to organize and supervise the forced expulsion of Jews from Germany, that is, deportation to concentration camps.

SS leader Reinhard Heydrich was ordered by Hermann Göring to speed up the "emigration "of Jews. Heydrich was second in importance to Heinrich Himmler in the Nazi SS organization and the principle planner of the Final Solution. Goring was one of the most powerful leaders of the Nazi Party and was the C-C of the Luftwaffe, as well as having created the Gestapo.


President Roosevelt issued a statement condemning German and Japanese ongoing "crimes against humanity." In response to political pressure to help Jews under Nazi persecution, President Roosevelt created the War Refugee Board.  Josiah E. DuBois, Jr, Treasury Dept. lawyer of the WRB, found evidence that the U.S. State Department had actively suppressed information about the murder of the Jews from reaching the United States public. To add to the turpitude, in July 1943, the US Treasury had given permission to the World Jewish Congress to send money to Switzerland, but prevented them from doing so for a period of six months. The War Refuge Board was the only major effort undertaken by the US government and had been credited with rescuing tens of thousands of Jews from Nazi-occupied countries.  (Editors note:  The efforts of the WRB however heroic, were been tainted by subterfuge at the highest level of government, and an inexcusable degree of bureaucratic red tape.)


The Battle of Poznań began for the German-occupied stronghold city of Poznań in Poland. It was a massive assault by the Soviet Union's Red Army that had as its objective the elimination of the Nazi German garrison in the stronghold city of Poznań in occupied Poland. The defeat of the German garrison required almost an entire month of painstaking reduction of fortified positions, intense urban combat, and a final assault on the city's citadel by the Red Army.


In his weekly noon blessing in St. Peters Square, Pope John Paul II prayed for an end to martial law in Poland and asked the Catholic faithful to "pray for my fatherland". He read from the pastoral letter which was delivered to Polish churches that ''I want to assure my fellow nationals that their wishes are mine as well.'


Polish ferry boat John Heweliusz sank, 52 killed. The ferry capsized and sank in 27 metres of water off Cape Arcona on the coast of Rügen in the Baltic Sea while sailing toward Ystad. Ten bodies were never found. 9 people were rescued. The sinking of Jan Heweliusz is the most deadly peacetime maritime disaster involving a Polish ship.

January 23, 2018




Second Partition of Poland: Prussia & Russia signed a partition treaty to divide the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and agreed that all Polish reforms would be annulled. In the presence of Russian troops, the Deputies to the Grodno Sejm, the last Sejm of the Commonwealth agreed to the Russian and Prussian territorial demands. The Grodno Sejm became infamous not only as the last Sejm of the Commonwealth, but because its deputies had been bribed and coerced by the Russians (Russia and Prussia wanted legal sanction from Poland for their demands). The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was reduced to a small buffer state headed by a puppet king (Stanisław August Poniatowski) who was powerless to oppose the partitions and save Poland from destruction. Russia took 250,000 square kilometres (97,000 sq mi), while Prussia took 58,000 square kilometres (22,000 sq mi). The Commonwealth lost about 307 000 km², being reduced to 215 000 km².


Polish–Czechoslovak War erupted following border disagreements regarding Cieszyn Silesia. The Czechoslovak government in Prague requested that the Poles cease their preparations for parliamentary elections in the area that had been designated Polish in the interim agreement as no sovereign rule was to be executed in the disputed areas. The Polish government declined and Czechoslovak units attacked the Polish part of Cieszyn Silesia in an effort to prevent the elections in the contested territory. Under pressure by the Entente, the attack was put to a halt, which resulted with a new demarcation line expanding territory controlled by Czechoslovakia. In July 1920, it led to the division of the region of Cieszyn Silesia leaving a large Polish minority in Zaolzie. Disatisfied with the territorial division, Poland annexed Zaolzie in 1938.


Polish Statesman Ignacy Paderewski returned to public life in 1940 when he accepted the position as Head of the National Council of Poland, a Polish parliament in exile in London. He made numerous radio broadcasts, carried by over a hundred radio stations in US and Canada, asking for public protest over German aggression in Poland, and Europe.


Bulgarian Anti-Semitism: The Law for protection of the nation was a Bulgarian law, based on the Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany. It was also directed against Jews and others. The laws imposed changes in the names of Jews, rules about place of residence, confiscation of their assets and possessions, exclusion from public service as well as banning them from economic and professional activity. It was in effect from January 23, 1941 to November 27, 1944.

January 22, 2018




Marshal Oscar von Lubomirski expelled Jews from Warsaw, Poland. (Following the first partition of Poland in 1772, a rise in organized street fights against the Jews were occurring. Three years later, there was a partial expulsion of Jews from Warsaw. Many Jews in Warsaw participated in the Polish Uprising against the Russians during the partition period and were killed when Russian troops massacred the Jewish civilian population. In 1796, Warsaw became part of Prussia and Jews were subject to Juden Reglements, which allowed only Jews, living in Warsaw prior to 1796, to remain in the city.)


The January Uprising began. It took place in the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (present-day Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Latvia, parts of Ukraine, western Russia) against the Russian Empire. It began on January 22, 1863 and lasted until the last insurgents were captured in 1865.


Four squadrons of RAF Spitfires destroyed a factory in Alblasserdam that manufactured liquid oxygen for German rockets. The reconnaissance squadron attempted to locate other targets, but only two were destroyed. Another installation at Looduinen was attacked several times between February 3 and 9, 1945, and though only a third of the bombs hit the target, the factory was destroyed. Alblasserdam is a town in western Netherlands, in the province of South Holland.