POLISH GREATNESS TRAFFIC

March 31, 2018

MARCH 31 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 31

1892

Stanislaw Maczek (dob) was a famous Polish tank General of World War II, whose Division was instrumental in the Allied liberation of France, closing the Falaise pocket, and in the destruction of 14 German Wehrmacht and SS divisions. His civision liberated Ypres, Oostnieuwkerke, Roeselare, Tielt, Ruislede and Ghent in Belgium. The Division's finest hour came when its troops accepted the surrender of the German naval base of Wilhelmshaven, taking captive the entire garrison, together with about 200 vessels of Hitler's Kriegsmarine.  Maczek was a veteran of World War I, the Polish-Ukrainian and Polish–Soviet Wars, and was the Commander of Poland's only major armoured formation during the September 1939 campaign. Maczek also commanded a Polish armoured formation in France in 1940 as well as the famous 1st Polish Armoured Division, which he led in defence of the Scottish coast between Montrose and the Firth of Forth, as a line of defence against a possible German invasion of Britain. Later British command equipped the Division with state-of-the-art Churchill and M4 Sherman tanks in preparation for the Normandy landings. Maczek commanded the 1st Armoured Division until the end of European hostilities and was promoted to Major-General. After the surrender of Germany he went on to command the Polish I Corps and became commanding officer of all Polish forces in the United Kingdom until their demobilization in 1947.


1939

The British government under Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain pledged support to Poland if she were threatened by Germany. In his speech before the House of Commons on March 31, 1939 Chamberlain stated the following: "….  in the event of any action which clearly threatened Polish independence, and which the Polish Government accordingly considered it vital to resist with their national forces, His Majesty's Government would feel themselves bound at once to lend the Polish Government all support in their power. They have given the Polish Government an assurance to this effect....I may add that the French Government have authorized me to make it plain that they stand in the same position in this matter as do His Majesty's Government..."  Polish historian Paweł Wieczorkiewicz wrote: "Polish leaders were not aware of the fact that England and France were not ready for war. They needed time to catch up with the Third Reich, and were determined to gain the time at any price."


1945

The Upper Silesian Offensive ended in Soviet victory. The Upper Silesian Offensive was a strategically significant Soviet offensive on the Eastern Front. It involved the 1st Ukrainian Front under the command of Marshall Ivan Konev, and was aimed at capturing the considerable industrial and natural resources located in Upper Silesia.. Due to the importance of the region to the Germans, considerable forces were provided to Army Group Centre for its defence and the Germans were
slowly pushed back to the Czech border. Fighting for the region lasted from mid January right until the last day of the war in Europe on May 8, 1945.


Anne Frank, and her sister Margot, died of typhus seven months after having been imprisoned at Bergen Belsen.  (Note: In the concentration camp, Anne Frank was briefly reunited with two friends, Hanneli Goslar and Nanette Blitz,  who were confined in another section of the camp.  Goslar and Blitz survived the war, and recounted the brief conversations they had with Frank through a fence.  Blitz described Anne as bald, emaciated, and shivering. Anne told Blitz and Goslar she believed her parents were dead, and for that reason she did not wish to live any longer. According to Goslar the period of their meetings was estimated to have been in late January or early February 1945. (The Dutch authorities have set March 31, 1945 as the date of death, although research conducted by the Anne Frank House, establishes that it might have been in February.)



March 30, 2018

MARCH 30 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 30

1938

Ethnic Poles in Czechoslovakia demanded autonomy for Polish minority.  Poles formed the largest ethnic group in Cieszyn Silesia in the 19th century, but at the beginning of the 20th century the Czech population increased rapidly thereby placing the Poles in the minority.  Initially, the Czechs and Poles collaborated on resisting Germanization, but this collaboration ceased after World War I. After the Polish-Czechoslovak War in 1920 the region of Zaolzie was incorporated into Czechoslovakia. The period between 1918 and 1920 experienced a great deal of tension and hostility.  The decision was made to hold a plebiscite to settle which country would gain Cieszyn Silesia. A state of emergency ensued in May 1920 and gave rise to mutual intimidation, acts of terror, beatings, and even killings. By July 1920 both sides renounced holding a plebiscite and entrusted the decision with the Conference of Ambassadors. The Spa Conference decided to grant 58.1% of the area of Cieszyn Silesia and 67.9% of the population to Czechoslovakia. It was this division that gave rise to the birth of the Zaolzie region. In 1938 it was annexed by Poland in the context of the Munich Agreement and in 1939 invaded by Nazi Germany.


1939

Wincenty Witos served three times as Premier of Poland, in 1920-1921, 1923 (Chjeno-Piast), and 1926. He co-founded the People's Party, and was one of the leaders opposing the Sanacja (Sanation) government. In 1926 the Witos government was overthrown by the May coup d'état led by Józef Piłsudski.  Following his imprisonment, Witos lived in exile in Czechoslovakia from 1933. He returned to Poland on March 30, 1939, only to be imprisoned again months later by the invading Nazi Germans.


1942

First trainloads of Jews from Paris arrived at Auschwitz. According to Yad Vashem, about 76,000 Jews from France were deported by train to the East, most of them from Paris, among them 11,000 children, all murdered upon arrival in Auschwitz.  Most of the deportations left France from the concentration camp of Drancy.  Deportations continued up until August 1944, even though the Allies had already begun to liberate France.  Of all the Jews deported from France to the extermination camps in the East, a total of about 2,500 survived.)


1945


The 2nd Shock Army of the 2nd Belorussian Front captured Danzig:  Soviet Commander Rokossovsky began his final offensive on March 15,  1945.  The fighting was savage, but by March 19 the Soviet spearheads had reached the heights over Zoppot, while the 4th Panzer Division had been pushed back to the outskirts of Danzig itself. By March 22, 1945, the 70th Army reached the sea, splitting the German defence.  Gdynia was taken on March 26, 1945, its defenders and many civilians retreating to the headland at Oksywie, from where they were evacuated to the Hel Peninsula.   Note: After the invasion of Poland by Germany on September 1, 1939, the Germans incorporated the Free City of Danzig into the newly formed Reichsgau of Danzig-West Prussia.  Local SS and the police cooperated with the Germans with expelling Polish authorities from in and around the city. The Polish civilian Post Office employees, who had received military training  and were armed, managed to defend the Polish Post Office for fifteen hours.  Upon their surrender, they were tried and executed. ( In 1998, the sentence was officially revoked by a German court as illegal.)  Polish military forces continued to fight in the city until September 7 and finally capitulated.  The Allies at the Yalta Conference, of February 1945, agreed that the city would become part of Poland again.


March 29, 2018

MARCH 29 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 29

1790

Polish-Prussian Alliance was signed between representatives of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Kingdom of Prussia.  It was a mutual defense alliance during the brief period of time when Prussia was seeking an ally against either Austria or Russia, and the Commonwealth was seeking guarantees that it would be able to carry out significant governmental reforms without foreign intervention. Prussia felt those reforms were not in its best interest, and felt threatened by them. When Russia invaded the Commonwealth in May 1792, Prussia refused to honor the alliance, arguing that it was not consulted with regard to the 3rd May Constitution, which they claim invalidated the alliance. In 1793, Prussia allied with Russia in the suppression of the Kościuszko Uprising.


1936

German Referendum on Re-militarization: Hitler called a referendum on March 29, 1936 which resulted with a majority of German voters approving of re-militarization of Germany. (99 %).  During Hitlers campaign, he was greeted with huge crowds cheering their approval of his defiance of the Versailles Treaty.



1941

A 'Commissariat' for Jewish Affairs was set up in Vichy France. The first Director of the Commissariat General Aux Questions Juives, was Xavier Vallat, an ardent anti-Semite. Under the Vichy Regime, he willingly collaborated with the Nazi Germans,  to co-ordinate anti-Jewish policies,  and to prepare and carry out anti-Jewish legislation. The Commissariat also confiscated all Jewish assets and property,  and tried to sell them to finance their regime. Two months later he issued the Statut Des Juifs, to tighten anti-Jewish laws that already had been put into place, and took a census of all the Jews in Vichy (the unoccupied) zone. (The census would later facilitate the deportation of French Jews.)



March 28, 2018

MARCH 28 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 28 

1892

Rudolf Gundlach (dob) was a Polish engineer, inventor and tank designer. He headed the design division of the Armored Weapons Development Office (Biuro Badań Technicznych Broni Pancernych) and held the military rank of major in the Corps of Engineers of the Polish Army.  Gundlach was the chief designer of the Ursus wz. 29 armored car and supervised design work for the 7TP light tank and the 10TP fast tank prototype.  He is famous for his invention of the Gundlach Rotary Periscope (Polish: Peryskop obrotowy Gundlacha), patented in 1936, which made possible 360° vision.


1928

Zbigniew Kazimierz "Zbig" Brzezinski (dob) as a Polish-American diplomat and political scientist. He served as a counselor to President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1966 to 1968 and was President Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor from 1977 to 1981. Major foreign policy events during his time in office included the normalization of relations with the People's Republic of China (and the severing of ties with the Republic of China on Taiwan); the signing of the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II); the brokering of the Camp David Accords; the transition of Iran from an important U.S. ally to an anti-Western Islamic Republic; encouraging dissidents in Eastern Europe and emphasizing human rights in order to undermine the influence of the Soviet Union;


1945

The Trial of the Sixteen:  16 leaders of the Polish Underground were captured and arrested by the notorious Soviet NKVD. (The Russian authorities had invited the Polish leaders to participate in the planning and organization of a new Polish Government of National Unity. The Polish leaders were immediately arrested, imprisoned and convicted on trumped up charges of "drawing up plans for action against the USSR" and "illegal activity against the Red Army". The Polish leaders were brutally interrogated and tortured and put on staged show trials. The trials took place on June 18 and June 21, 1945, with observers from the UK and US present. (Note: the trial dates were carefully selected to occur at the same time as the conferences on the creation of the Soviet-backed Polish puppet government) The verdict was handed down on June 21, in which all the defendants were coerced into pleading guilty. Of the sixteen defendants, twelve were sentenced to imprisonment from four months to ten years, while charges against the four others were dropped by the prosecution.  None of Poland's allies protested. On July 6, 1945, the UK and USA withdrew their recognition of the legitimate Polish Government in Exile in London.




March 27, 2018

MARCH 27 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 27 

1933

A series of protest rallies were held in numerous American cities by Jews advocating for the boycott of German products. This was in response against the Nazi German's campaign of anti-semitic violence against German Jews and boycott of Jewish businesses. Over 55,000 Jews crowded inside Madison Square Garden in New York City, with the event being broadcast worldwide. Speakers included a US Senator, a Governor, Christian Clergymen, as well as leaders of Jewish organizations and synagogues. Rallies were also held at Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia and 70 other locations.  The Anti Nazi Boycott lasted until America's entry into the war.


1939

Nazi Germany began an anti-Polish propaganda campaign against "oppression of Germans in German lands now controlled by Poles."  In German and Soviet war propaganda, Poles were mocked as inept for their military techniques in fighting the war. Nazi fake newsreels and forged pseudo-documentaries claimed that the Polish cavalry "bravely but futilely" charged German tanks in 1939, and that the Polish Air Force was wiped out on the ground on the opening day of the war. Neither story was true. It was complete fabrication by the Nazi propaganda machine. (see: Myths of the Polish September Campaign). German propaganda staged a fake Polish cavalry charge in their 1941 reel called "Geschwader Lützow". Even today, anti-Polish sentiment continues, but more frequently in derogatory stereotyping and defamation, rather than open discrimination.(Read about Polonophobia, anti-Polonism, antipolonism and anti-Polish sentiment.)


1942

The start of deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz.  Women and children were also targeted. The French police, under the control of the Nazi German authorities, carried out the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup   ( July 16 and 17, 1942) and arrested 13,000 Jews for deportation to German concentration camps. Tens of thousands had also been sent from French internment camps to the extermination camps in German occupied Poland, via Drancy. (PS:  For decades the French government declined to apologize for the role of French policemen in the roundup. On July 16, 1995, President Jacques Chirac, stated that it was time that France faced up to its past and he acknowledged the role that the state had played in the persecution of Jews and other victims of the German occupation.  According to Chirac, those responsible for the roundup were "4500 policemen and gendarmes, French, under the authority of their leaders [who] obeyed the demands of the Nazis." In 2012, President François Hollande acknowledged that the roundup was committed in "France by France". In July 2017, President Emmanuel Macron denounced France's participation in the Holocaust and the revisionism which followed in the attempt to deny France's guilt for the 1942 roundup and subsequent deportation of the Jews. "It was indeed France that organized this [roundup]", he said, French police collaborating with the Nazis. "Not a single German took part."


1945

The Germans fired their last V-2 rockets from their only remaining launch site in the Netherlands. Almost 200 civilians in England and Belgium were killed in this final attack. German scientists had been developing tests on a long-range missile since the 1930s. Their first successful trial launch was achieved on October 3, 1942, at Peenemunde research center, located off Germany's Baltic coast.  The Germans launched the V-2, a 12 ton rocket which had the capacity to carry a one ton warhead. On its first try it traveled 118 miles but had the potential to travel 200 miles. Germany's missile program was attributed to the genius of Wernher von Braun. The rockets designs comprised the V-1, a pulse jet-powered cruise missile, the V-2, a liquid fueled ballistic missile (often referred to as V1 and V2), and the V-3 cannon.  The V-2 was designed in such a way as to make it impossible to intercept. At point of launching the missile traveled a distance of six miles vertically, then gradually changed trajectory so that it assumed an arced course, and able to cut off its own fuel in accordance with the preferred range.  Then when it reached its target, the nose tipped over and the missile descended at a speed of about 4,000 miles per hour.  The missile hit the target with such force that it partially burrowed several feet into the ground, after which it exploded.  It was impossible for the allies to detect the V-2 because the launch pads used were portable.  Hitler used these weapons against France and the Netherlands, and many towns and cities in England as well as London ( the Blitz). The rockets killed approximately 18,000 people, mostly civilians, and destroyed buildings and streets to a pile of rubble.


U-722 was sunk in the North Atlantic near the Hebrides, Scotland in position 57°09′N 06°55′W, by depth charges from British frigates HMS Fitzroy, HMS Redmill and HMS Byron. All hands were lost.



March 26, 2018

MARCH 26 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 26

1938

As part of the National Defense Fund, Christian merchants of Warsaw presented to the Polish Army 40 heavy machine guns. ( There was also a National Defence Fund organization in Winnipeg, Canada in 1938. They consisted of various organizations throughout Canada which organized and collected money for Poland's re-armament.  People across Canada from Winnipeg, Hamilton, Toronto, Montreal, and many other cities became centres for fund-raising, and demonstrating Polish patriotism.  (from Ethnic Organizational Dynamics: The Polish Group in Canada by Henry Radecki


1941

The German Army High Command gave approval to RSHA and Heydrich regarding  the tasks of SS murder squads (Einsatzgruppen) in occupied Poland. The SS Special Action (Einsatz) Groups systematically rounded up and shot Polish politicians, leading citizens, professionals, aristocracy, and the clergy. Their plan was that Poland's remaining people, considered by the Nazis to be racially inferior, were to be enslaved to the German nation.


1943

Operation Arsenal as the first major operation by the Szare Szeregi in Warsaw. The plan was to free the troop leader Jan Bytnar "Rudy", who was arrested together with his father by the Gestapo. The operation was carried out by 28 scouts under the command of Stanisław Broniewski "Orsza" and Tadeusz "Zoska" Zawadzki, who was the initiator and commander of "Attack Group". They successfully rescued them in an ambush of the prison van that was taking the inmates from Pawiak Prison to Gestapo headquarters at Szucha Avenue,  but Bytnar died four days later from injuries sustained when he was subjected to German torture. (Szare Szeregi "Gray Ranks" was a Polish scouting assocation created on September 27, 1939. Many of its members fought with the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa, or AK).


1945



German submarine U-399 was depth charged and sunk off Land's End by British frigate Duckworth.






March 25, 2018

MARCH 25 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 25

1945

Winston Churchill, accompanied by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, briefly crossed the Rhine near Wesel in an Allied landing craft.  It was symbolic act on their part because no foreign military leaders had crossed the traditional frontier of Germany since the age of Napoleon.  The excursion, which ventured as far as a bridge still under enemy fire, was quite dangerous and General Eisenhower later noted that if he had been there he never would have allowed Churchill to cross the river at that time.  This was Operation Varsity  ( part of Operation Plunder) a UK-US-Canadian assault to cross the Northern Rhine River and enter Northern Germany. (read March 24, 1945)


The first rail transport of Polish soldiers left Rembertów for Siberia. It consisted of more than a thousand men, of whom one-quarter did not survive the journey. The dead were carried to a special rail car attached to the last one. It was forbidden to bury the bodies - according to Soviet regulations, the number of people at the destination had to be the same as the number of people at the starting point.  On March 7, the Soviet NKVD had arrested Polish General Emil Fieldorf code-named "Nil'.  Fieldorf was able to remain unrecognized, and used the alias "Walenty Gdanicki", but was soon discovered. Soon after his imprisonment at Rembertow, the Polish resistance found out but could not mount an operation to free him, as he had already been transported to Siberia.  Fieldorf was Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Armia Krajowa, the Polish Home Army (AK) after the failure of the Warsaw Uprising (August 1944 – October 1944). He was released in 1947 and returned to Poland.  On April 16, 1952,  he was sentenced at a show trial to be executed by hanging. He was accused by the prosecutor of being a "fascist-Hitlerite criminal" for having ordered the execution of Soviet partisans while he was in the Polish Home Army. He was executed on February 24, 1953.


March 24, 2018

MARCH 24 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 24

1794

Kościuszko's Proclamation was a speech given by Tadeusz Kościuszko against the forces of Imperial Russia occupying Poland. At approximately 10 am at Krakows Old Town Square, the Act of Insurrection was read by Kraków's Sejm representative.  It gave Tadeusz Kościuszko command over the National Armed Forces after which he vowed to convene a Supreme National Council.  Kosciuszko stepped forward and recited his oath, " I,  Tadeusz Kościuszko, hereby swear by the God to the entire Polish Nation, that I shall not use the powers vested in me for anyone's oppression, but for defence of the integrity of the borders, recuperation of Nation's sovereignty and strengthening the universal freedom. So help me God and the innocent passion of His Son! "


1933

German Parliament passed the Enabling Act giving Hitler dictatorial powers.  The Enabling Act  was a 1933 Weimar Constitution amendment that gave the German Cabinet – in effect, Chancellor Adolf Hitler – the power to enact laws without the involvement of the Reichstag. It passed in both the Reichstag and Reichsrat on March 24, 1933, and was signed by President Paul von Hindenburg later that day. The act stated that it was to last four years unless renewed by the Reichstag, which occurred twice. The Enabling Act gave Hitler plenary powers. It followed on the heels of the Reichstag Fire Decree, which abolished most civil liberties and transferred state powers to the Reich government. The combined effect of the two laws was to transform Hitler's government into a legal dictatorship.  Hitler attempted to give his dictatorship a semblance of legality, and thus renewed the Enabling Act twice, in 1937 and 1941.  However, its renewal was practically assured since all other parties were banned. German voters were presented with a single list of Nazis and Nazi-approved "guest" candidates under "far-from-secret conditions". In 1942, the Reichstag passed a law giving Hitler power of life and death over every citizen, effectively extending the provisions of the Enabling Act for the duration of the war


1938

In Brzezany (Ukraine) five members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists were sentenced to several years in prison. The OUN was a political organization comprising the Ukrainian Military Organization, smaller radical right-wing groups, and right-wing Ukrainian nationalists.  Their objective was to achieve Ukrainian independence by violence and terrorism against perceived foreign and domestic enemies, in particular Poland, Czechoslovakia and Russia.


1942

Nazi Germans deported 426 Jews from Nuremberg to the ghetto of Izbica in Eastern Poland. There were no survivors.


1944

Józef and Wiktoria Ulma, a Polish husband and wife, living in Markowa near Rzeszów in south-eastern Poland were the Righteous who attempted to rescue Polish Jewish families by hiding them in their own home during the Nazi-occupation of Poland. The Ulma family, husband, wife and children were summarily executed on March 24,  1944 for having helped the Jews.  (The Rescue of Jews by Poles During the Holocaust)


1945

As part of Operation Plunder, American, British and Canadian troops carried out Operation Varsity, an airborne drop around Wesel, Germany. It involved more than 16,000 paratroopers and several thousand aircraft.  Its objective was to help the surface river assault troops secure a foothold by landing two airborne divisions on the eastern bank of the Rhine near the village of Hamminkeln and the town of Wesel. The Operation was the largest one of its kind in history to be conducted in one location on a single day.  Operation Varsity was a success and the airborne troops achieved their objectives to capture enemy strongholds.  Allied casualties were very high between 2,300 and 2,700 killed, wounded or missing. (Winston Churchill, and Field Marshal Montgomery, watched the landings on this day.)




March 23, 2018

MARCH 23 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 23

1919

Mussolini re-formed the Milan fascio into the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento (Italian Combat Squad), consisting of 200 members. Mussolini's foreign policy was based on spazio vitale (vital space), a concept  analogous to Lebensraum in German National Socialism. The concept of spazio vitale was first announced in 1919, when the entire Mediterranean, especially so-called Julian March,  was claimed as Italy's exclusive sphere of influence, as from the ancient Roman province of Italia.  Mussolini believed that Italy had the right to colonize the neighboring Slovene ethnic areas and the Mediterranean because they were less developed, and that Italy needed the space because it was suffering from overpopulation. In September 1920, Mussolini made a speech in Pula, in which he also stated that, "...When dealing with such a race as Slavic — inferior and barbarian — we must not pursue the carrot, but the stick policy ... We should not be afraid of new victims ... The Italian border should run across the Brenner Pass, Monte Nevoso and the Dinaric Alps ... I would say we can easily sacrifice 500,000 barbaric Slavs for 50,000 Italians ..."


1945

At night the Western Allies began Operation Plunder, the crossing of the Rhine.  The 21st Army Group under Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery launched Operation Plunder, as a part of a coordinated set of Rhine crossings. The crossing of the river Rhine was at Rees, Wesel, and south of the river Lippe by the British Second Army, under Lieutenant General Sir Miles C. Dempsey (Operations Turnscrew, Widgeon, and Torchlight), and the United States Ninth Army (Operation Flashpoint (1945), under Lieutenant General William H. Simpson. The First Allied Airborne Army conducted Operation Varsity airborne landings on the east bank of the Rhine in support of Operation Plunder, consisting of U.S. XVIII Airborne Corps, the British 6th and the U.S. 17th Airborne Divisions. Within a week of the start of Plunder, the Allies had taken 30,000 prisoners of war north of the Ruhr.


Italian partisans operating in Rome threw a bomb at an SS unit, killing 33 soldiers. The next day, the  Nazis rounded up 335 Italian civilians and took them to the Adeatine caves where they were executed in reprisal for the death of the SS soldiers.  Of the civilian victims, 253 were Catholic, 70 were Jewish and the remaining 12 were unidentified.  Despite such reprisals, the partisans were extremely effective in aiding the Allies and by the summer of 1944, resistance fighters successfully immobilized eight of the 26 German divisions in northern Italy. By the end of the war, the partisans guerrilla force controlled Venice, Milan, and Genoa, though at considerable cost to their units. They lost about 50,000 fighters but achieved their victory and won back the Republic.  Italian partisans (antifascist guerrilla fighters) aided the Allied battle against the Germans and had been fighting underground against the fascist government of Mussolini long before its surrender. Then it fought against German fascism. The main weapon of the Italian guerrillas was sabotage of communication lines, transports, and supply lines, as well as killing enemy soldiers.





March 22, 2018

MARCH 22 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 22

1933

Before 1939 the German Nazis had already opened six concentration camps in the German Reich. Dachau concentration camp near Munich 1933); Sachsenhausen near Berlin in northern Germany (1936); Buchenwald near Weimar in central Germany (1937);  Flossenbürg in northeastern Bavaria near the 1937 Czech border (1938):  Mauthausen, near Linz, Austria (1938), and Ravensbrück, a concentration camp for women, established in Brandenburg Province, southeast of Berlin (1939);


1943

The Nazi Germans opened the newly constructed gas chambers and crematory IV at Auschwitz.


The entire village of Khatyn (now in Belarus) was burnt alive by members of the Schutzmannschaft Battalion 118. The Battalion was formed by the Nazis in 1942 in Kiev (now capital of  Ukraine) with 500 volunteers in three companies. Later the battalion split away and was composed of Ukrainian nationalists and volunteers of POW camps that Soviets captured during Operation Barbarossa, headed by German commander Sturmbannführer Erich KörneSchutzmannschaft.  The Battalion committed the most savage atrocities and war crimes during WW2.  The Khatyn massacre (not to be confused with the Katyn Massacre of Polish officers at Smolensk) occurred in Khatyn, a village in Belaarus was the site of another atrocity.  On March 22, 1943, the Battalion 118 filled a farmers barn with civilians from the village, set the barn on fire, and used a machine gun to mow down civilians who tried to escape the flames.  The Schutzmannschaft Battalion 118 was chiefly responsible for the creation of German "dead zones". The dead zone policy involved exterminating communities suspected, or capable of aiding the Soviet partisans who had launched ambushes against Nazi forces in Belarus.



March 21, 2018

MARCH 21 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 21

1931

Zygmunt Puławski died on March 21, 1931, when he crashed while flying his newest design, an amphibious flying boat PZL.12 .  Pulawski was a Polish aircraft designer and pilot. He invented a gull-wing aircraft design and constructed a series of Polish PZL fighters. The first was the PZL P1 commissioned by the Polish military. Its gull-wing design gave the pilot an excellent view from his cockpit. A prototype was flown in 1929 and was met with great interest around the world. The wing design became known as "Puławski wing" or "Polish wing",  which was copied in later designs by various international manufacturers.


1939

Nazi Germany demanded the return of Danzig (Gdansk) from Poland. (Note: The Treaty of Versailles, which was signed after the end of World War I, between the Allied Powers, and Germany restored the sovereignty and independence of Poland  (after 123 years of oblivion) and gave Poland control of an outlet to the sea, as well as a large portion of  land inhabited by the Germans.  (In order to give Poland access to the Baltic Sea a  "corridor" was created by passing control of the German provinces of Posen and West Prussia to Poland. In the process East Prussia was separated from the rest of Germany.) Poland also gained half of Silesia. Danzig was made a Free City under the control of the League of Nations. The German government signed the treaty under protest. Consequently, a large portion of the German population was living under foreign rule, and the territorial changes brought about by the Versailles Treaty would create tensions in the ensuing months and years culminating in the invasion of Poland by Germany on September 1, 1939.


1941

Tadeusz Tański, 49 was murdered at Auschwitz concentration camp. He was a Polish automobile engineer and the designer of the first Polish serially-built automobile, the CWS T-1 among other designs. Until late 1930s Tanski was one of the most notable Polish constructors and the designer of numerous cars, lorries and artillery tractors.


1942

Nazi German Fritz Sauckel was named General Plenipotentiary for Labour Deployment to expedite recruitment and use of slave labor. According to Sauckels testimony at Nuremberg, of the five million foreign workers brought to Germany, around 200,000 came " voluntarily ". The majority were workers rounded up from the Eastern territories, especially Poland and the Soviet Union, and subjected to extremely harsh treatment in service for German coal mining, steel making and manufacture of armaments, and others. It was to be one of the main accusations against Sauckel when he was brought before the Nuremberg trials for his crimes. He attempted to defend himself claiming that it was not slave labor and that it had "nothing to do with exploitation. It is an economic process for supplying labour".  He was found guilty of crimes of war, and crimes against humanity and hanged on October 16, 1946.


1943

A second attempt was made on Hitler's life in the space of eight days. Rudolf Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff, an officer in the German army,  was given the opportunity to escort Hitler through an exhibition of captured Soviet war materiel at the Zeughaus in Berlin. Gersdorff had set a ten minute fuse on a time bomb that when detonated would kill himself and Hitler.  Unexpectedly,  Hitler rushed through the viewing and left after two minutes. Whereas Gersdorff excused himself and hurried to defuse the explosive which had been hidden in the restroom. His plans were never detected.



March 20, 2018

MARCH 2O - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 20

1921

Upper Silesia voted in the plebiscite to remain German. The vote was mandated by the Versailles Treaty to determine a section of the border between Weimar Germany and Poland. The results showed that 702,045 electors favored remaining with Germany against 479,232 who favored the region be annexed to Poland. The pro-German vote was concentrated in a few isolated regions surrounded by a largely pro-Polish countryside.  However, by late April rumours were rapidly spreading that Upper Silesia would stay in Germany, which led to the Third Polish Uprising in May. The question of the Upper Silesia problem was turned over to a council of the League of Nations who deliberated on the matter and finally awarded the greater part of the Upper Silesian industrial district to Poland (in Oct 1921)  The ethnic demography of the region was a mix of Germans and Poles. Before WWI ethnic Poles comprised 60 percent of the population however they faced discrimination and were treated like second class citizens, under the rule of the German Empire.


1933

Dachau Concentration Camp was established in Germany by the order of Heinrich Himmler; it was to be guarded by men of the SS.  Dachau was the first of the Nazi concentration camps in Germany, located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory.  Initially intended to hold political prisoners, its purpose was enlarged to include forced labor, and eventually, the imprisonment of Jews, German and Austrian criminals, and eventually foreign nationals from countries that Germany occupied or invaded. The Dachau camp system grew to include nearly 100 sub-camps, which were mostly work camps or Arbeitskommandos, and were located throughout southern Germany and Austria. There were 32,000 documented deaths at the camp, and thousands more that were undocumented. The camps were liberated by U.S. forces on May 1, 1945.  After the end of WW2, Dachau was used to hold SS soldiers awaiting trial. After 1948, it held ethnic Germans who had been expelled from eastern Europe and were awaiting resettlement, and also was used as a United States military base during the occupation. It was finally closed in 1960.


1937

Construction began of the town and steel mill in Stalowa Wola. (Note: Stalowa Wola is one of the youngest cities of Poland. It was built from scratch in the late 1930s in the forests surrounding the village of Pławo.  It was intended as a settlement for workers of the factory Huta Stalowa Wola,  major producer of military equipment in Poland. The town was also the secret meeting centre of the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa). Stalowa Wola was captured by the Red Army in August 1944, and on April 1, 1945.


1956

After the death of Boleslaw Bierut on March 12, 1956, Edward Ochab was named to succeed him as 1st secretary of Polish PZRP.  Previously, he was a communist social activist, politician and member of the Communist Party of Poland since 1929, and was repeatedly imprisoned for his activities under the Polish government of the time.  In 1939 he fought in the Defense of Warsaw but afterwards switched allegiance and moved to the Soviet Union, where he became an early organizer and manager in the Union of Polish Patriots.  In 1943 he joined General Berling's Polish Army on the Eastern Front as a political officer and quickly rose through the ranks. Ochab played a role in authorizing the violent suppression of the Solidarnosc (Solidarity) worker revolt in Poznań in June. In 1968 Ochab resigned from all of his party and state offices, and withdrew from politics. This was in protest of the anti-Semitic campaign conducted by factions within the communist party and permitted by his successor, Wladyslaw Gomułka, ironically whose wife was also Jewish.


1991

The US government forgave $2 billion in loans to Poland.  Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) announced a plan that would forgive a $2.25 billion of Poland's agricultural debt to the United States. Leahy called the plan, "Food for Freedom"  which would also provide Poland with surplus commodities.


2000

Pope John Paul II arrived in Jerusalem for a six day pilgrimage. He celebrated Mass in Bethlehem and prayed at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall, where he inserted a note asking God's forgiveness for Christian persecution of Jews.



March 19, 2018

MARCH 19 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 19

1807

Around 27,000 French troops under Marshall Lefebvre besieged 14,400 Prussian troops under Marshall Kalckreuth garrisoning the city of Danzig. Danzig  was a heavily fortified port with a very important strategic positions, situated at the mouth of the Vistula River. It posed a direct threat to the French left, as it lay within Prussian lands but to the rear of the French army as it advanced eastward. It was also a potential dropping off point for allied troops, that could threaten the French army by opening another front to their rear. Danzig was also difficult to attack, being only accessible from the west, while all other directions were covered either by the Vistula (N) or wetlands (S and E). Moreover, among its resources it possessed powder, grain, eau de vie, etc.  which was of great interest to the Grande Armée. In a letter dated February 18, 1807, Napoleon advised Marshal Lefebvre: " Your glory is linked to the taking of Danzig: you must go there."


1909

Elżbieta Zawacka (dob) was a Polish university professor, scouting instructor, SOE agent and a resistance fighter during World War II. She was also a Brigadier General of the Polish Army (the second and last woman in the history of the Polish Army to hold this rank), promoted by President Lech Kaczyński on May 3, 2006. The only woman among the special forces called Cichociemni, she served as a courier for Armia Krajowa, the Polish Home Army, carrying letters and other documents from Nazi-occupied Poland to the Polish Government in Exile in London, and back. Her regular route ran from Warsaw through Berlin and Sweden to London. She was also responsible for organizing routes for other couriers of the Home Army.


1938

The government of Lithuania accepted Polish ultimatum. ( See March 17, 1938)


1942

10 Jewish men publicly hanged in Zelow Ghetto:  As in Bełchatów, there was an execution of ten male Jews, hanged publicly in winter 1942 (probably on 19th or 20th March). The reason for these executions was probably Nazi revenge for their losses on the Eastern front. The victims were chosen by the Judenrat, probably by lot. The gallows were brought from Bełchatów. The whole Jewish population had to watch the execution, even the children of the victims. The noose was put on by other Jews, among them Abram Siwek (according to the report of the priest Ciosek), probably the only one who managed to survive the war. After the execution, a dinner for invited Nazi officers from Zelów and Bełchatów took place for which the Judenrat was obliged to deliver food and drinks.


Hitler issued the Nero Decree, ordering the destruction of German infrastructure to prevent their use by Allied forces. Albert Speer and the army chiefs strongly resisted this and conspired to delay the order's implementation.




March 18, 2018

MARCH 18 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 18

1921

Treaty of Riga (or Peace of Riga) ended the Russo-Polish War. Byelorussia was partitioned between Poland and Soviet Union and the Ukrainian SSR recognized Polish sovereignty over Western Ukraine.  The Soviet-Polish borders established by the treaty remained in force until the Second World War. They were later redrawn during the Yalta Conference and Potsdam Conference.


1938

In Wilno and Warsaw, thousands of inhabitants participated in anti-Lithuanian demonstration, calling for military action against Lithuania.  On March 11, 1938 (a day before Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany),  Stanislaw Serafin, a Polish soldier was shot by Justas Lukoševičius, a Lithuanian border patrol, on the demarcation line in the village of Trasninkai. It was not an isolated incident but the culmination of similar events that occurred since the 1920s. The following day, the Polish government issued a threatening statement accusing Lithuania of provocation. Subsequently, the Senate of the Republic of Poland called for the establishment of diplomatic relations with Lithuania.


1945

An air battle was fought in the skies over Berlin when 1,329 Allied bombers and 700 long-range fighters were met by the Luftwaffe using the new Me 262s and air-to-air rockets. The U.S. Eighth Air Force lost six Mustangs and 13 bombers while the Luftwaffe only lost two planes in return despite being outnumbered 32 to 1. However, the Allies still dropped 3,000 tons of bombs in the heaviest daylight raid on Berlin of the war.


The Battle of Kolberg ended in a Soviet and Polish victory. The battle for control of the city began on March 4, 1945 between Soviet units of the 1st Belorussian Front and 2nd Belorussian Front, with units from the Polish People's Army and the Polish First Army, against the Third Panzer Army; the 33rd Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Charlemagne (1st French) and the 15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Latvian). The battle was fought in two waves; the first by the Soviets from March 4 to 7; and the second wave by the Poles from March 8 to 14.  On March 12 the 4th Polish Infantry Division launched an assault supported by additional artillery units and heavy tanks. The attack resulted in heavy casualties resulting in breaking off advances on March 14. The next day fighting resumed, but German troops could not stop the Polish forces, which took the barracks, part of the railway station and the Salt Island. By March 16 the Germans pulled back most of their forces under heavy artillery shelling by Soviet katyushas rocket launchers, thus allowing the Polish troops to breach the inner city.


German submarine U-866 was depth charged and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean by American destroyer escorts.



March 17, 2018

MARCH 17 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 17

1921

Adoption of the March Constitution : The Constitution was adopted by the Second Polish Republic, and was based on democratic ideals. It ruled out discrimination on racial or religious grounds, and abolished all royal titles  state privileges, and the use of blazons.  The preamble of the Constitution read as follows:  "In the Name of Almighty God! We, the people of Poland, thanking Providence for freeing us from one and a half centuries of servitude, remembering with gratitude the bravery, endurance, and selfless struggles of past generations, which unceasingly devoted all their best energies to the cause of Independence, adhering to the glorious tradition of the immortal Constitution of 3 May, striving for the welfare of the whole, united, and independent mother country, and for her sovereign existence, might, security, and social order, and desiring to ensure the development of all moral and material powers for the good of the whole of regenerated mankind and to ensure the equality of all citizens, respect for labor, all due rights, and particularly the security of State protection, we hereby proclaim and vote this Constitutional Statute in the Legislative Assembly of the Republic of Poland."


1938

Poland issued an ultimatum to Lithuania demanding that it re-establish diplomatic relations with Poland within 48 hours. The Lithuanian government had adamantly refused diplomatic relations with Poland since 1920 after Poland annexed the Vilnius region. In the midst of increasing militarization in pre-World War II Europe, and the necessity to secure its borders, Poland, feeling buoyed by the international support of the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, decided a similar ultimatum to Lithuania.  It resulted in the resumption of diplomatic relations, and a de facto renunciation of Lithuanian claims to the region containing its historic capital, Vilnius. Lithuania, preferring peace to war, accepted the ultimatum on March 19.


1939

In Berlin, Józef Lipski met Hermann Göring to discuss the establishment of Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.(Note: The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was a protectorate of Nazi Germany established on March 16, 1939 following the German occupation of Czechoslovakia on March 15, 1939. Nazi Germany had incorporated the Czech Sudetenland territory as a Reichsgau, according to the Munich Agreement of September 1938). The protectorate's population was majority ethnic Czech, while the Sudetenland was majority ethnic German.


1942

Jews of Lublin were deported to Belzec for extermination.  Karl Alfred Schluch, an SS-man Karl and former "Euthanasia" worker,  spent about sixteen months in Belzec and described what happened to the Jewish prisoners. The following are his words:  ".....The unloading of the freight cars was carried out by a Jewish work commando, headed by a Capo. Two to three members of the German camp personnel supervised it. It was one of my duties to supervise here. After the unloading, those Jews able to walk had to make their way to the assembly site. During the unloading the Jews were told that they had come for resettlement but that first they had to be bathed and disinfected. The address was given by Wirth, and also by his interpreter, a Jewish Capo. Immediately after this, the Jews were led to the undressing huts. In one hut the men had to undress and in the other the women and children. After they had stripped, the Jews, the men having been separated from the women and children, were led through the tube. I cannot recall with certainty who supervised the undressing huts... Since I was never on duty there I am unable to provide precise details about the stripping process. I just seem to remember that in the undressing hut some articles of clothing had to be left in one place, others in a different one, and in a third place valuables had to be handed over... My location in the tube was in the immediate vicinity of the undressing hut. Wirth had stationed me there because he thought me capable of having a calming effect on the Jews. After the Jews left the undressing hut I had to direct them to the gas chamber. I believe that I eased the way there for the Jews because they must have been convinced by my words or gestures that they really were going to be bathed. After the Jews had entered the gas chambers the doors were securely locked by Hackenholt himself or by the Ukrainians assigned to him. Thereupon Hackenholt started the engine with which the gassing was carried out. After 5 - 7 minutes -- and I merely estimate this interval of time -- someone looked through a peephole into the gas chamber to ascertain whether death had overtaken them all. Only then were the outside gates opened and the gas chambers aired. Who did the checking, that is to say, who looked through the peephole? I can no longer say with any certainty... In my view, probably everyone had occasion to look through the peephole. After the gas chambers had been aired, a Jewish work commando headed by a Capo, arrived and removed the corpses. Occasionally, I also had to supervise in this place. I can therefore give an exact description of what happened, because I myself witnessed and experienced it all. The Jews had been very tightly squeezed into the gas chambers. For this reason the corpses did not lie on the floor but were caught this way and that, one bent forward, another one backward, one lay on his side another kneelled, all depending on the space. At least some of the corpses were soiled with feces and urine, others partly with saliva. I could see that the lips and tips of the noses of some of the corpses had taken on a bluish tint. Some had their eyes closed, with others the eyes were turned up. The corpses were pulled out of the chambers and immediately examined by a dentist. The dentist removed rings and extracted gold teeth when there were any. He threw the objects of value obtained in this manner into a cardboard box which stood there. After this procedure the corpses were thrown into the large graves there....."


Secret Operation Reinhard at Belzec: Operation Reinhard or Operation Reinhardt was the code-name given to the secretive German Nazi plan to exterminate the majority of Polish Jews in the General Government district of German-occupied Poland during World War II. The operation marked the deadliest phase of the Holocaust by the introduction of extermination camps. As many as two million Jews were sent to Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka, to be put to death in gas chambers built for that purpose. In addition, mass killing facilities using Zyklon B were developed at about the same time within the Majdanek concentration camp, and at Auschwitz II-Birkenau near the existing Auschwitz I camp for Polish prisoners.


Until June 1942 , between 430,000 and 500,000 Jews were believed to have been murdered by the SS at Bełżec during  World War Two. Belzec was the 3rd most notorious extermination camp, after Auschwitz and Treblinka.


1943

Bulgaria stated opposition to deportation of its Jews.  During the first half of March 1943, Bulgarian military and police authorities carried out the deportation of 13,341 Jews residing in the Bulgarian-occupied territories. Once the Jews were in German custody, German authorities transported them to Treblinka, where virtually all were killed in the gas chambers or shot.  The news of the deportations and killings of Jews provoked an uproar among opposition politicians, Bulgarian intellectuals and members of the Bulgarian clergy who protested openly against the deportations and extermination. Tsar Boris intended to continue with the deportations until Dimitur Pešev, the deputy speaker of the Parliament, and a prominent member of Boris's own Government Ruling Party, personally intervened and persuaded the Tsar to delay the planned deportation.Two days later Pešev introduced a resolution in parliament criticizing the deportations and calling a halt to them. But the majority in the Government Ruling Party, undoubtedly with Boris's tacit approval, voted down Pešev's resolution and forced his resignation in late March.


1945

Poland's Wedding to the Sea in Mrzeżyno, The ceremony was meant to symbolize the restoration of Polish access to the Baltic Sea that was lost in 1793 by the Partitions of Poland. It was previously performed on February 10, 1920, by General Józef Haller at Puck (Putzig). Following the Polish-Soviet advance into Pomerania in early spring 1945, a few such ceremonies took place in several locations. The most famous 1945 Weddings to the Sea was performed by the soldiers of the Polish Army in Mrzeżyno (Regamünde) and on March 18 at the newly captured port of Kołobrzeg (Kolberg).




March 16, 2018

MARCH 16 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 16

1935

Hitler announced the rearmament of Germany and the reintroduction of conscription. His move was a direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles.  Germanys plans for rearmament began as soon as the Treaty was signed in 1919. Although it began secretively, it expanded to great proportions after the Nazi Party came to power in 1933.  Historians have argued that Hitlers rise to power was condoned by the West in order to allow a rearmed Germany to act as a bulwark against the emergence of a powerful USSR. This mindset was evident when Nazi Germany launched Operation Barbarossa to invade Soviet territory, and the West observed with anticipation the hope that Germans and Russians would fight themselves to a bloody standstill.  Before the war, allied governments, in particular  British Prime Minister Chamberlain, failed to intercede earlier because he believed that his appeasement policies would be effective to avert war.  There was the speculation that anything that might have caused Hitler not to overreach as quickly and as far as he did, would only have condemned Europe to living behind a Nazi Iron Curtain, in which Germany would still be able to commit the atrocities against the Jews in the "Final Solution", and develop its nuclear weapons program.  According to respected historian George Kennan,  "Unquestionably, such a policy might have enforced a greater circumspection on the Nazi regime and caused it to proceed more slowly with the actualization of its timetable. From this standpoint, firmness at the time of the reoccupation of the Rhineland (March 7, 1936) would probably have yielded even better results than firmness at the time of Munich."


1940

Germans bombed Scapa Flow naval base in the Orkney Islands, Scotland.  In the Naval Situation General review submitted to the British War Cabinet  the event was described as follows;  " At dusk on 16 March an attack was made on Scapa by 15 enemy bombers operating in small groups, and continued from 7:45pm until 9pm...It is reported that only the first wave of five aircraft attacked ships in the harbour, dropping about 20 bombs. This attack came in low and climbed on reaching Scapa Flow to make dive bombing attacks on the fleet. H.M.S. Norfolk was hit in the quarter deck and holed by a near miss aft, 4 officers being killed, and 4 officers and 3 ratings wounded. The damage to the ship necessitates docking, but she was capable of steaming at 10 knots, and has since arrived at the Clyde. H.M.S. Iron Duke (depot ship) was also damaged by two near misses, and one other capital ship was attacked but not hit."  (Britain had chosen Scapa Flow to be their main naval base, primarily due to its great distance from German airfields.  British defenses from WWI had fallen into disrepair consequently the defences were inadequate. Upon Churchill's order, construction began for a series of causeways to block the eastern approaches to Scapa Flow, as well as placing booms and mines over the main entrances, installing coastal defence and anti-aircraft batteries at crucial points, and sinking new blockships.)



March 15, 2018

MARCH 15 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MARCH 15

1923

The question of Vilnius was confirmed by a conference of ambassadors of the Allied powers. (Note: Poland had captured Vilnius in April 1919 which precipitated territorial disputes and armed conflict with Lithuania.  Vilnius briefly fell into Soviet hands during the Polish Soviet war of 1920.  But after Poland's victory in the Battle of Warsaw, Soviets regained control of the city. On October 8, 1920, Polish troops under the command of General Lucjan Żeligowski, marched on Vilnius to "defend the right of self-determination of local Poles." Żeligowski's forces captured Vilnius and proclaimed the creation of the Republic of Central Lithuania with capital in Vilnius. A ceasefire was signed on November 29 which was followed by a prolonged mediation by the League of Nations. Despite their deliberations, the situation did not change, and in 1923, the League accepted the status quo.  Lithuania refused to recognize these developments and broke diplomatic relations with Poland, until the Polish ultimatum of 1938.


1939

Nazi troops invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia despite Hitlers promise to respect the terms of the Munich Agreement.  The Agreement was a form of appeasement by the allies and was signed on September 30, 1938 by Hitler, Chamberlain, Daladier, and Mussolini. It gave Nazi Germany permission to annex only the Sudetenland, since Hitler felt Germany had to safeguard the ethnic German minority located in that region of Czechoslovakia.


1940

Himmler stated: "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." (Editor's note: Himmler's declaration was in line with Hitlers' plans to destroy the Polish nation.)


British RAF bombers dropped propaganda leaflets over Warsaw, Poland over the course of two nights. The leaflets contained messages for the Polish citizens reassuring them that they were "not alone in this war"  and that the British understood how they were suffering and urged them "to be strong, the day of liberation will come!" Following the mission, the Polish Government in Exile protested the action, though General Sikorski approved of it. (source: "Black Propaganda in the Second World War" by Stanley Newcourt-Nowodworski)