POLISH GREATNESS TRAFFIC

April 30, 2018

APRIL 30 - DAILY CHRONICLES IN HISTORY

APRIL 30

1310

Casimir III the Great (Kazimierz)  reigned as the King of Poland from 1333 to 1370. He was the son of King Władysław I ("the Elbow-high") and Duchess Hedwig of Kalisz, and the last Polish king from the Piast dynasty.  Kazimierz inherited a kingdom weakened by war and made it prosperous and wealthy. He reformed the Polish army and doubled the size of the kingdom. He reformed the judicial system and introduced a legal code, gaining the title "the Polish Justinian". Kazimierz built extensively and founded the University of Kraków, the oldest Polish university. He also confirmed privileges and protections previously granted to Jews and encouraged them to settle in Poland in great numbers.


1939

In Nazi Germany, a new Rent Law from the government excluded Jews from rent protection and authorized landlords to evict Jewish renters.  (Law concerning Jewish tenants, document number: 1419-PS, Reichsgesetzblatt-Page: I.864, signed by: Hitler, Guertner, Krohn, Hess, Frick) 939 REICHSGESETZBLATT, PART I, PAGE 864


1940

Henryk "Hubal" Dobrzański, was a Polish soldier, sportsman and partisan. He fought in the Polish-Ukrainian War of 1918, in the Siege of Lwow, and Polish-Bolshevik War of 1919-1921.  After the Peace of Riga, he remained a Polish soldier but also became a member of the Polish equestrian team, winning many international competitions. He was an Olympic athlete, and took part in the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. He finished fourth at the prestigious Aldershot competition. In his sports career he won numerous medals: 22 gold, three silver and four bronze. Hubal was the first guerrilla commander during the Invasion of Poland in September 1939.  In March 1940 Hubals unit ambushed numerous Nazi German units and inflicted heavy casualties.  In reprisals, they burned several Polish villages killing about 700 Poles.  Consequently, the locals sentiment turned against Hubal's unit. On April 30, 1940  the Germans ambushed his staff quarters, in a ravine near the village of Anielin (powiat of Opoczno).Major Henryk "Hubal" Dobrzański and most of his men were killed. The Germans then desecrated his body and put it on public display in the local villages before they transported his body to Tomaszów Mazowiecki (they either burnt his remains or buried him in an unknown location.)


The Lodz Ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland was sealed off from the outside world with 230,000 Jews locked inside. (see March 4, 1940)


1941

The Kingdom of Yugoslavia published the Aryan race laws. A key part of the legislation was the religious conversion laws, the implications of which were not understood by the majority of the population when they were published on May 3, 1941.  However, the implications become clear following the July speech of Mile Budak, the minister of education, in which he declared: "We will kill one third of all Serbs. We will deport another third, and the rest of them will be forced to convert to Catholicism".  Racial laws were enforced until May 3, 1945.  (see also April 18, 1941)


1942

Deportations from Krasniczyn Ghetto:  A second transport from the administrative district Koblenz was compiled on April 30, 1942.  770 people were deported from Kraśniczyn in the district of Lublin of the General Government. Among the 658 deportees from Koblenz were 104 inmates of the "Israelitische Heil- und Pflegeanstalten" Bendorf - Sayn and 8 persons from the administrative district of Aachen . Another 330 people from the institutions in which Jewish mental patients were concentrated in the Reich were deported in a transport on 15 June 1942 in the east - most likely to the Sobibór extermination camp. (see April 25, 1942)


1945

Battle in Berlin:  Polish units had fought in the Battle of Berlin. This was now the Battle in Berlin, the fight to breakthrough the suburbs and capture the city.  The Soviets were supported by Polish units, of the 1st Polish Motorized Mortar Brigade, the 6th Polish Motorised Pontoon Battalion, and the 2nd Polish Howitzer Brigade).  At the peak of Allied assault,  Soviet forces were suffering heavy casualties and needed immediate reinforcements in infantry support, and armored units and called in more Polish troops.  On April 30, 1945, the Polish 1st Tadeusz Kościuszko Infantry Division joined the Soviets in battle. Initially, one infantry regiment was to support the 1st Mechanised Corps, and two, the 12th Guards Tank Corps. Instead, two regiments (1st and 2nd) ended up supporting the 1st Corps, and only one (3rd) the 12th Corps. The 3rd Polish Infantry Regiment was operating with the 66th Guards Tank Brigade of the 12th Guards Tank Corps. The 1st Polish Infantry Regiment was split up into "combat teams" supporting the 19th and 35th Mechanized Brigades, with the 2nd Polish Infantry Regiment supporting the 219th Tank Brigade; all units of the Soviet 1st Mechanized Corps. When Polish forces arrived on the scene, they found that Soviets had suffered heavy losses - the 19th and 35th Mechanized Brigades sustained over 90% casualties.  The Polish 1st Infantry Regiment originally assigned to support them had to take over their positions. The 66th Guards Tank Brigade of the 12th Corps that jointed with the 3rd Polish Infantry Regiment for support had also suffered heavy losses. In total the Soviets lost 82 tanks because of insufficient infantry cover.


Suicide of Adolf Hitler:   As the Soviet Red Army was less than 500 metres (1,600 ft) from the bunker, Hitler had a meeting with General Helmuth Weidling, the commander of the Berlin Defence Area. He told Hitler that the garrison would probably run out of ammunition that night and that the fighting in Berlin would inevitably come to an end within the next 24 hours.  Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide as the Red Army approached the Führerbunker. Admiral Karl Dönitz became President of Germany. Hitler had shot himself in the head, and Braun was lying next to him, dead from cyanide poisoning.  Their bodies were burned, and ashes dumped into the river.


German submarines U-879 and U-1107 were sunk by Allies. On April 29 a U-boat was detected by escorts of convoy KN 382. USS Natchez attempted to ram her but missed.  Natchez, joined by the USS Coffmann, USS Thomas, and USS Bostwick, chased the sub for several hours launching depth charges and hedgehogs. Early on April 30, a powerful explosion was heard. It wasn't until 1968, that the wreck was discovered  and it was assumed to be U-879, though indicators suggest it might have been U-857.  U-1107 was depth charged and sunk in the Bay of Biscay, by US Catalina in position 48°00′N 06°30′W, 37 crew were killed with an unknown number of survivors.


2012

Witold Pilecki's 1945 report on Auschwitz was published in English for the first time, "THE AUSCHWITZ VOLUNTEER: BEYOND BRAVERY" by Aquila Polonica Publishing. It includes a Forward by Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland.  During WW2, the Polish Underground wanted to investigate what was happening inside Auschwitz concentration camp. Witold Pilecki, a Polish army officer had volunteered to allow himself to be rounded up and arrested by the Germans.  Pilecki was sent to Auschwitz, and began to gather detailed information regarding the atrocities he witnessed - the starvation, sickness, and the extermination of Jews, Soviets, and Polish political prisoners.  His intelligence reports were smuggled out of the camp in 1941 and were transported by the Polish underground to the London Government in Exile in London.  The British could not believe that such atrocities were occurring - yet Pilecki  had provided the evidence.


April 29, 2018

APRIL 29 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 29

1945

Adolf Hitler dictated his last will and testament designating Karl Dönitz as his successor.  Hitler had previously expelled Himmler from the Nazi party and was removed from all his state offices for Himmler's attempt at negotiating peace with the Allies without Hitler's permission.


At the Royal palace in Caserta,Italy German officers signed the terms of surrender of German forces in Italy. Hostilities ceased at noon on May 2. The agreement covered between 600,000 and 900,000 soldiers along the Italian Front, including troops in sections of Austria. The first Allied war crimes trial took place in the palace in 1945; German general Anton Dostler was sentenced to death and executed nearby, in Aversa. (Note: From October 1943 the royal palace served as the Allied Force Headquarters in the Mediterranean area. During World War II the soldiers of the US Fifth Army recovered here in a "rest centre".)


Mussolini and Petacci were hung upside down.  On April 27, 1945 Mussolini  was captured near the village of Dongo (on the northwestern shore of Lake Como). Italian partisans arrested him and put him in the local barracks overnight, but transferred him the next day to the farmhouse of a local peasant family, in case fascist supporters tried to rescue him.  Historical records provide varying opinions on who actually gave the initial order to execute Mussolini, and there are conflicting versions of the events leading up to the execution. On the evening of April 28,  the bodies of Mussolini, his mistress Clara Petacci, and the other executed fascists were loaded onto a van and trucked south to Milan. Upon arriving in the city in the early hours of April 29, their bodies were dumped on the ground in Piazzale Loreto, a suburban square near the main railway station. (The location was deliberately chosen because in August 1944, fifteen partisans were executed there in retaliation for partisan attacks and Allied bombing raids, and the fascists left their bodies there on public display. At that time, it was reported that Mussolini said "for the blood of Piazzale Loreto, we shall pay dearly".)  By 9:00 a.m. a large crowded had gathered and pelted the corpses with vegetables, spat at, urinated on, shot at and kicked.  Mussolini's face was disfigured by beatings.  An American eye witness described the crowd as "sinister, depraved, out of control".  The bodies were hoisted up on to the metal girder framework of a half-built Standard Oil service station, and hung upside down on meat hooks.


German submarines were attached and sunk:   U-286 was attacked and sunk by gunfire from the British frigates HMS Loch Insh, HMS Anguilla, and HMS Cotton in the Barents Sea:  U-307 was attacked and sunk by depth charges in the Barents Sea near Murmansk, Russia, by the British Loch class frigate HMS Loch Insh; U-1017 was attacked and sunk by depth charges and a FIDO homing torpedo dropped by a RAF Liberator bomber of 120 Squadron on 29 April 1945 in the North Atlantic, NW of Ireland.


1946

Aleksander Wolszczan (dob) was a Polish astronomer. He was the co-discoverer of the first extrasolar planets and pulsar planets. Working with Dale Frail, Wolszczan carried out astronomical observations from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico that led them to the discovery of the pulsar PSR B1257+12 in 1990.  The discovery was praised as "the greatest discovery by a Polish astronomer since Copernicus."




April 28, 2018

APRIL 28 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 28

1939

Hitler renounced the Polish-German Pact of Non-aggression.  German policy changed drastically after Hitler annexed Sudetenland. In October 1938, German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop proposed the option of renewing the Pact in exchange for allowing the Free City of Danzig (Gdansk today) to be annexed by Germany, as well as permitting the construction of an extraterritorial motorway and railway through the Polish Corridor, with Germany accepting Poland's postwar borders. Poland refused. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, starting World War Two.


1944

Stanislaus Orlemanski, a Polish-American priest from Springfield, Massachusetts traveled to Moscow at the behest of Stalin himself. Marshal Stalin was looking for support among the Polish diaspora, (Polish people who have emigrated to nations across the world) and suggested that Orlemanski might be a good candidate for a cabinet post in a new post-war Polish government.  Incidentally, Orlemanski was active in forming the Kosciusko League, which funneled money and weapons to the remnants of the Polish Army. Nevertheless, he accepted Stalin's invitation as an opportunity to encourage rapprochement between the Vatican and Moscow.  The meeting with Stalin left Orlemanski feeling assured that Russia was committed to building a free, democratic self-governing Poland. Even US President Franklin Roosevelt got caught up in discussions of how the Soviet regime might embrace religion. Upon his return to Sprinfield, Orlemanski was relieved of his priestly duties, and permitted to return only on the promise of silence on the subject of his trip to Moscow. The American public at large considered this charade as merely a publicity stunt by Stalin. Orlemanski's naivety was reflected in these comments, “Stalin tried to use me and I tried to use him, for the good of my Church. He won and I lost.”


1947

Operation Vistula began. For the next three months and with Soviet approval and aid,  about 141,000 Ukrainians from Bieszczady and Low Beskids were forcibly resettled to former German territories (ceded to Poland at the Yalta Conference at the end of World War II).  The Soviet objective was the removal of material support and assistance to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. Operation Vistula brought an end to hostilities. On August 3, 1990, the Polish Senate adopted a resolution condemning the postwar Polish government's Operation Vistula. In response, the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) adopted the statement of understanding of the Polish Senate resolution as a serious step towards the correction of the injustices towards the Ukrainians in Poland. In the same resolution the Rada condemned the criminal acts of the Stalinist regime towards the Polish people. In 2007, the President of the Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, and the President of Poland (the late Lech Kaczyński) condemned the Operation Vistula as a violation of human rights.


April 27, 2018

APRIL 27 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 27

1943

On the night of April 26-27, 1943 Witold Pilecki broke out of Auschwitz concentration camp. When Pilecki was assigned to a night shift at a camp bakery outside the fence, he and two other prisoners overpowered a guard, cut the phone line and escaped  taking with them valuable documents stolen from the Nazi Germans. Pilecki was a member of the Polish underground Home Army (Armia Krajowa). In September 1940, using a fake ID with the name of Tomasz Serafinski, he voluntarily allowed himself to be arrested in a roundup along with 2,000 other Poles (among them Wladyslaw Bartoszewski), and was deported to Auschwitz.  His inmate number was 4859.  Before Pilecki started gathering intelligence of the activities in the camp, the Allies had no idea that it was a death camp. Pilecki also attempted to organize a inmate resistance and proposed that the Allies bomb the camp.. He organized the underground Union of Military Organizations (ZOW) whose task it was to   improve inmate morale, provide news from outside, distribute extra food and clothing to members, set up intelligence networks and train detachments to take over the camp in the event of a relief attack by the Home Army, arms air drops or an airborne landing by the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade based in Britain. The reports Pilecki provided the Allies were a principal source of intelligence on Auschwitz, but the Allies replied that his plans were impossible to carry out.


1945

U.S. troops liberated Kaufering concentration camp: Kaufering and Mühldorf were two sub-camps attached to Dachau.  Kaufering was constructed to accommodate a fighter plane factory in the Landsberg region and included eleven camps, the largest containing thousands of prisoners, primarily Jewish, living in partially buried huts for camouflage from aerial reconnaissance. On April 27, 1945,  soldiers of the 134th Ordnance Maintenance Battalion of the 12th Armored Division led by Capt. John P. Jones discovered the camp. The SS had forced the prisoners on a death march ahead of the arrival of the Battalion.  Six of the Kaufering Concentration Camps were liberated by the 7th Army's 103rd Infantry Division, 411th Regiment.  The camp was filled with the skeletons of Jews, Poles, Russians, French and un-Nazified Germans. In two of the camps the soldiers found Jewish men, women and children shoved together, 100 to a hut. Military officers secured from the neighbouring countryside 1,000 loaves of bread, 1,000 quarts of milk and 750 pounds of fresh meat per day to feed the emaciated living who weighed just 50 to 60 pounds from 5 to 6 years of forced labor, starvation and exposure. In one camp, 300 dead bodies lay on the ground while 600 "living zombies shuffled aimlessly." Colonel Edward F. Seiller, commander of the 12th Armored Division's Military Government, took control of the camp and had some 250 civilians from the nearby town of Landsberg brought to the camp and ordered them to bury the dead prisoners.


2014

The Canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II was held on this day , Divine Mercy Sunday. The canonization Mass was celebrated by Pope Francis (with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI),  in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.  About 150 cardinals and 700 bishops concelebrated the Mass, and at least 500,000 people attended the Mass, with an estimated 300,000 others watching from video screens placed around Rome.



April 26, 2018

APRIL 26 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 26

1933

The Gestapo was created by Hermann Göring in the German state of Prussia. The Gestapo was the Secret State Police of Nazi Germany, and German-occupied Europe during World War II. It played a key role in the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe. The Gestapo had the authority to investigate cases of treason, espionage, sabotage and criminal attacks on the Nazi Party and Germany. The basic Gestapo law passed by the government in 1936 gave the Gestapo free reign to operate without judicial review—in effect, putting it above the law. The Gestapo was specifically exempted from responsibility to administrative courts, where citizens normally could sue the state to conform to laws. As early as 1935, a Prussian administrative court had ruled that the Gestapo's actions were not subject to judicial review. The SS officer Werner Best, one-time head of legal affairs in the Gestapo summed up this policy by saying, "As long as the police carries out the will of the leadership, it is acting legally." The power of the Gestapo included the use of what was called, Schutzhaft—"protective custody", a euphemism for the power to imprison people without judicial proceedings. An absurdity of the system was that the prisoner had to sign his own Schutzhaftbefehl, an order declaring that the person had requested imprisonment—presumably out of fear of personal harm. In addition, thousands of political prisoners throughout Germany—and from 1941, throughout the occupied territories under the Night and Fog Decree, disappeared while in Gestapo custody.


1937

The German Luftwaffe bombed the Basque town of Guernica:  At the behest of Francisco Franco's nationalist government, the Nazis conducted an aerial bombing raid of the town on April 26, 1937.  The town was being used as a communications center behind the front line, and the bombing operation opened the way to Franco's capture of Bilbao and his victory in northern Spain.  There was wide controversy about the operation because it involved the bombing of civilians by a military air force.  The number of victims is still disputed; the Basque government reported 1,654 casualties while local historians identified 126 victims, later revised to 153. A British source claimed 400 civilians died while  Soviet archives claim 800 deaths. The Times reporter, George Steer covered news about the Spanish Civil War from inside the country.  He set the tone for subsequent news reports, accusing Germany of the action. (the fact that there were three small bomb cases stamped with the German Imperial Eagle, made it clear that the official German position of neutrality in the Civil War and the signing of a Non-Intervention Pact was a sham.) Steer's report was syndicated to the New York Times and then worldwide, generating widespread shock, outrage, and fear. The Times ran the story every day for over a week.


1943

Message to Joseph Stalin from President Franklin D. Roosevelt:    " I have received your telegram while on my Western inspection trip. I can well understand your problem but I hope in present situation you can find means to label your action as a suspension of conversation with the Polish Government in Exile rather than a complete severance of diplomatic relations.    (2) It is my view that Sikorski has not acted in any way with Hitler gang, but rather that he made a stupid mistake in taking the matter up with the International Red Cross. Also I am inclined to think that Churchill will find ways and means of getting the Polish Government in London to act with more common sense in the future.   Let me know if I can help in any way, especially in regard  to looking after any Poles you may desire to send out of Russia.   Incidentally, I have several million Poles in the United States, very many of them in the Army and Navy.  They are all bitter against the Nazis and knowledge of a complete diplomatic break between you and Sikorski would not help the situation."  signed by Roosevelt. (Editors note:  the final version sent to Stalin was edited by the removal of the word "stupid" in the second paragraph)  PS.  Polish General Sikorski insisted upon an investigation by the International Red Cross after the discovery of mass graves in Smolensk, Russia. The Germans had discovered the graves in early 1943, and declared that the Soviets were the perpetrators. Stalin denied it and eventually broke off diplomatic relations with the Polish government in London.  The mass graves concealed the bodies of upwards of 16,000 Polish officers murdered by the Soviet NKVD from April to May 1940.  It was the Katyn Massacre.


1945

Philippe Pétain was arrested on the border between Switzerland and France. He was Marshall of the Vichy Regime which was installed by Nazi Germany after the Fall of France.  They collaborated with the Nazis. The Vichy government immediately used its new powers to order harsh measures, including the dismissal of republican civil servants, the installation of exceptional jurisdictions, the proclamation of antisemitic laws, and the imprisonment of opponents and foreign refugees. Censorship was imposed, and freedom of expression and thought were effectively abolished with the reinstatement of the crime of "felony of opinion."  At the end of World War II, Petain was tried on treason charges, and sentenced to death by a one-vote majority.  Because of his advanced age, he was instead imprisoned for life. The French Court stripped Pétain of all military ranks and honours except for the one title of Marshal of France.


April 25, 2018

APRIL 25 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 25

1933

Immediately after Hitler came to power in Germany he began to issue edicts to strip the freedom of Jewish citizens. On this day he declared the Law against Overcrowding in Schools and Universities which limited the number of Jewish students in public schools. During his dictatorship, he issued over 400 edicts.


1938

Minister Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski visited Polish Upper Silesia. Kwiatkowski was a famous Polish economist, deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Treasury. He was credited with great accomplishments such as the construction of Gdynia seaport, the development of the Polish Merchant Navy and sea trade, and the creation of Centralny Okręg Przemysłowy (The Central Industrial Region).  The goal of his 5-year project  was to create a heavy industrial center in the middle of the country, as far as possible from any borders, strengthen the Polish economy and reduce unemployment.  But the COP was interrupted by the outbreak of the WW2 when Germany and Russia invaded Poland in September 1939. At the end of the war in 1945, the COP project was rebuilt by the Soviet-controlled People's Republic of Poland.


1942

Nazi Germans deported Jews from Würzburg to Krasniczyn Ghetto, in Eastern Poland, There were no survivors.  On April 25, 1942,  "852 Jews were marched  from the Platz's garden in Wurzburg to Aumühle station. The transport train DA 49 was ready for transport there. At 13:00 o'clock the delivery driver "properly handed over", the train passed the Würzburg main station in the direction of Bamberg at 15:20 o'clock; here were added another 103 Jews. Via Lichtenfels , Kronach and Saalfeld , through northern Silesia , the transport arrived in Lublin on April 28, 1942 at 2:00. There he reached the destination station Krasnystaw at 5:45 am at 5:45 am. The Würzburg Gestapo recorded the transport, "The transport was handed over completely; Incidents did not happen. A police intervention was not required. "The deportees were transferred on foot to Kraśniczyn. Almost certainly all the survivors were taken to the Sobibor extermination camp June 6th. ( Editors note:  This account is based on Nazi documentation of the deportation of Jews. The remaining documents were probably destroyed by Nazi officials.)  The other transport was dated on April 30, 1942.


1943

Soviet Union broke diplomatic relations with Polish Government In Exile in London;  Earlier in April 1943, Nazi Germans discovered mass graves of over 15,000 Polish officers near Smolensk, Russia (Katyn Massacre) who were massacred by the Soviet NKVD at the start of the war. The Soviet government denied all culpability, and claimed that the Germans did it.  The Allied governments believed the Soviets and formally accepted their explanation, however, the Polish Government in Exile refused to accept it and demanded an investigation. Stalin then severed all diplomatic ties with the Polish Government in Exile.


1944

German Nazi agents secretly approached Western allies to propose a trade deal: Adolph Eichmann approached Joel Brand to broker a deal between the SS and the United States or Britain, in which the Nazis would exchange one million Jews for 10,000 trucks for the Eastern front and large quantities of tea and other goods. It was the most ambitious of a series of such deals between Nazi and Jewish leaders. Eichmann called it "Blut gegen Waren" ("blood for goods"). Nothing came of the proposal, which The Times of London called one of the most loathsome stories of the war. Historians believe that Heinrich Himmler and the SS, intended the negotiations as cover for peace talks with the Western Allies that would exclude the Soviet Union and perhaps even Hitler. Whatever its purpose, the proposal was thwarted by the British government. They arrested Brand in Aleppo. (Note: Joel Brand was a leading member of Budapest's Aid and Rescue Committee, which smuggled Jews out of German-occupied Europe. After Germany invaded Hungary in March 1944, Brand became known for his efforts to save the country's Jews from deportation to the Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland.)


1945

The RAAF conducted its last significant mission of the war with a raid against Hitler's retreat at Berchtesgaden.  At 5:00 am, 20 Lancasters from squadron 460 began readying for take-off. In the air they would join a force totaling more than 300 Lancasters and 16 Mosquitos of Bomber Command, as well as over 270 B-24 Liberator bombers from the US 8th Air Force, which targeted the railway infrastructure leading to Berchtesgaden. Escorting them were 88 P-51D Mustang fighters from the US 8th Army Air Force. Once the target was found, over 1,400 tons of bombs were dropped, including four 12,000 pound Tallboy bombs. The heavy payload was designed to destroy bunker networks that were believed to exist below the Obersalzberg complex. The SS barracks – the key target – were severely damaged. Houses belonging to Göring (who survived the raid in his bomb shelter) and Bormann were destroyed. The RAF official historian, Hilary Saunders, boasted that a thousand-pounder had made the deep end of Göring’s swimming pool a little bit deeper.)


The East Prussian Offensive and the Samland Offensive ended in Soviet victory. Even after this time, German forces continued to resist on the Vistula Spit, the long sandbar enclosing the Vistula Lagoon, until the end of the war.


Via telephone hookup, President Truman addressed the delegates at the opening session of the United Nations Conference on International Organization (UNCIO) in San Francisco. "You members of this Conference are to be the architects of the better world," Truman said. "In your hands rests our future. By your labors at this Conference, we shall know if suffering humanity is to achieve a just and lasting peace. Let us labor to achieve a peace which is really worthy of their great sacrifice. We must make certain, by your work here, that another war will be impossible."


1959

Then Bishop Karol Wojtyła (the future Pope John Paul II) had petitioned the communist regime for permission to build a Catholic Church in Kraków's new industrial suburb of Nowa Huta. (Nowa Huta was built by the Soviets as a model socialist workers' community which Soviets intended to be secular.)  Having been denied a church, the citizens erected a large wooden cross without a permit, resulting in violent clashes between the police and citizens.  Bishop Karol Wojtyla supported the local citizens by hosting outdoor Christmas Eve Midnight Masses in 1959, regardless of weather. And every time the regime removed the cross, he would see to it that it was replaced with another cross.



April 24, 2018

APRIL 24 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 24

1920

Polish Army Occupied Kiev:  The Kiev Offensive was an attempt by the armed forces of the newly re-emerged Poland led by Józef Piłsudski, in alliance with the Ukrainian leader Symon Petliura, to seize the territories of modern-day Ukraine which fell under the Soviet control after the Bolshevik Revolution. The initial expedition in which 65,000 Polish and 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers took part, started on April 24, 1920. The military goal was to outflank the Soviet forces and destroy them in a single battle. After winning the battle in the South, the Polish General Staff planned a rapid withdrawal of the 3rd Army and strengthening of the northern front where Piłsudski expected the main battle with the Red Army to take place. The Polish southern flank was to be held by Polish-allied Ukrainian forces under a friendly government in Ukraine. On May 7, Polish and Ukrainian soldiers entered Kiev.


1938

A general meeting of Camp of National Unity took place in Katowice.  It was a Polish political party founded in 1937 by some members of the Sanacja leadership whose platform was strongly pro-military.  Its objectives were to improve Poland's national defense and to safeguard the April 1935 Constitution. Its politicians claimed that Marshal Rydz-Śmigły as "the second person in the country" after President Moscicki, which had no foundation in the Constitution.


1945

The Battle of Halbe began on the Eastern Front. In this battle, the German Ninth Army, under the command of General Theodor Busse, was destroyed as a fighting force by the Red Army during the Battle for Berlin. After heavy fighting, the Battle ended on May 1, 1945. About 30,000 German soldiers—one fifth of those originally in the pocket—reached the comparative safety of the Twelfth Army's front lines. The rest were either killed or captured by the Soviet forces.


German submarine U-546 was responsible for the last combat sinking of a United States Navy vessel in the Atlantic, the destroyer escort USS Frederick C. Davis.  Immediately, five US destroyers turned on the U-boat, assisted by other destroyer escorts; Flaherty (DE-135) (LCDR H.C. Dufe), Varian (DE-798) (LCDR L.A. Myhre), Neunzer (DE-150) (LCDR V.E. Gex), Hubbard (DE-211) (CDR L.C. Mabley), Keith (DE-241) (LCDR W.W. Patrick), Chatelain (DE-149) (LCDR D.S. Knox), Janssen (DE-396) (LCDR S.G. Rubinow, Jr.), and Pillsbury (DE-133) (LCDR G.W. Casselman). Neunzer and Hayter (DE-212) conducted a search while Pillsbury circled the area and Flaherty picked up survivors. Flaherty made spotted the U-boat in less than an hour and with Pillsbury proceeded to attack. The U-boat dove to 600 feet (180 m). Contact was lost from 1045 until 1201 when Varian, Janssen and Hubbard began another attack. Neunzer got into the fight after several attacks by the other DE's, delivering a creeping attack with Varian and Hubbard while Chatelain directed. Contact was lost once more at about 1600, so Chatelain and Neunzer were ordered to return to the scouting line.  Varian made contact once more at 1731 and Flaherty was ordered to attack. She fired at 18:10. Four minutes later a small oil slick appeared on the surface.. Flaherty made another Hedgehog attack at 1828, and at 1838 the U-boat broke the surface. Every US destroyer lined up and began firing at the German sub. After more than ten and a half hours of  battle, at 1844, the U-546 rolled under and sank (in position 43°53′N 40°07′W,  south-south-east of Cape Farewell, Greenland). The subs captains and crew were rescued by US vessels and detained at the Argentia Naval Station in Newfoundland, Canada, where they were tortured by US military personnel.  The Allies needed to obtain information on potential cruise missiles or ballistic missile attacks on the U.S. continent.  The USN eventually learned that no V-1/2 attacks from the U-boats were planned by the Kriegsmarine.





April 23, 2018

APRIL 23 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 23

1660

Treaty of Oliwa was signed:  It was one of the peace treaties which ended the Second Northern War (1655-1660) between Sweden, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Habsburgs and Brandenburg-Prussia.  The terms of the treaty included the renunciation by John II Casimir to his claims of the Swedish crown (which his father Sigismund III Vasa had lost in 1599).  Poland also formally ceded to Sweden, Livonia and the city of Riga, which had been under Swedish control since the 1620s. The treaty settled conflicts between Sweden and Poland left standing since the War against Sigismund (1598-1599), the Polish-Swedish War (1600-1629), and the Northern Wars (1655-1660).


1935

The April Constitution of Poland was the general law passed by the act of the Polish Sejm on April 23, 1935. It introduced a presidential system of government with certain elements of authoritarianism. It was accepted in violation of the earlier March Constitution of 1921 and the Rules of the Parliament, and as such it was questioned by most of the opposition to the rule of Sanacja. (Sanacja, or Sanation was created in the interwar period, prior to Józef Piłsudski's May 1926 Coup d'État, and came to power in the wake of that coup.)


1937

The Polish Sejm declared November 11 as the National Independence Day. It was celebrated only twice before World War II broke out. After the war, the communist regime of the People's Republic removed Independence Day from the calendar. Even so, the Polish people continued to celebrate it informally. The Soviets officially replaced National Independence Day, with the "National Day of Poland's Revival as Poland's National Day" celebrated on the July 22, the anniversary of the communist PKWN Manifesto under Joseph Stalin.  When Poland emerged from communism in 1989, the original holiday, National Independence Day, on November 11th, was finally restored.


1945

The race to Berlin ended with the Soviet arrival into the capital first. The Soviet 1st Belorussian Front and 1st Ukrainian Front continued to tighten the encirclement and severing the last link between the German IX Army and the city. Elements of the 1st Ukrainian Front continued to move westward and started to engage the German XII Army moving towards Berlin.  By the next day elements of 1st Belorussian Front and 1st Ukrainian Front had completed the encirclement of the city. On April 25th, the Soviet investment of Berlin had been consolidated, with leading Soviet units probing and penetrating the S-Bahn defensive ring. It became clear that the German defence of the city could not do anything but temporarily delay the capture of the city by the Soviets. The decisive stages of the battle had already been fought and lost by the Germans outside the city. 1,100,000 Soviet personnel who took part in the capture of Berlin from April 22 to May 2, 1945 (Note:  Poland's official Flag Day is held each year on 2 May, the last day of the battle in Berlin, when a solider of the Polish Army hoisted the Polish flag on the Berlin Victory Column.)


Hermann Göring sent a message to Hitler asking for permission to assume leadership of the Third Reich. Interpreting the telegram as an act of treason, Hitler relieved Göring of his official titles and ordered his arrest. The message was translated to English, as follows: "My Fuhrer, General Koller today gave me a briefing on the basis of communications given him by Colonel General Jodl and General Christian, according to which you had referred certain decisions to me and emphasized that I, in case negotiations would become necessary, would be in an easier position than you in Berlin. These views were so surprising and serious to me that I felt obligated to assume, in case by 2200 o’clock no answer is forthcoming, that you have lost your freedom of action. I shall then view the conditions of your decree as fulfilled and take action for the well being of Nation and Fatherland. You know what I feel for you in these most difficult hours of my life and I cannot express this in words. God protect you and allow you despite everything to come here as soon as possible. Your faithful Hermann Göring" On April 25, Hitler issued a telegram to Göring telling him that he had committed "high treason" and gave him the option of resigning all of his offices in exchange for his life. Shortly thereafter, Bormann ordered the SS in Berchtesgaden to arrest Göring. When Hitler discovered, on April 28, that Heinrich Himmler was trying to discuss surrender terms with the western Allies, he ordered Himmler's arrest and had Hermann Fegelein (Himmler's SS representative at Hitler's HQ in Berlin) shot.


In one of the rare actions of the Pacific War that involved a German submarine, U-183 was sunk off the southern coast of Borneo by the American submarine Besugo. After having served in the Battle of the Atlantic,  U-183 sailed from France in July 1943, arriving at Penang on October 27. She operated in that zone for almost two years and  carried out six war patrols. On April 23, 1945, just days before Germany's surrender, she was attacked and sunk in the Java Sea by American submarine Besugo (SS-321).  Only one crew member survived.


Members of the 358th and 359th U.S. Infantry Regiments liberated Flossenbürg on April 23, 1945. Flossenburg was  a Nazi German concentration camp built in May 1938 in Bavaria, Germany, near the border with Czechoslovakia.  Before its liberation, more than 96,000 prisoners passed through the camp, around 30,000 of whom died. An American military tribunal tried 46 former staff from Flossenbürg concentration camp for crimes of murder, torture, and starving the inmates in their custody. All but 5 of the defendants were found guilty, 15 of whom were condemned to death, 11 were given life sentences, and 14 were jailed for terms varying from 1 to 30 years.



April 22, 2018

APRIL 22 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 22

1794

The Wilno Uprising or Vilnius Uprising was a battle between Polish (and Lithuanian) forces led by Polish General Jakub Jasiński against the Russian forces which invaded and occupied the city during the Kościuszko Uprising.  The Russians were defeated and expelled from Wilno (Vilnius), and due to Jasiński's skill, no casualties were sustained among his troops during the bloodless uprising.


1919

"Proclamation to the inhabitants of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania about Międzymorze"  It was a bilingual proclamation, drawn up by Józef Piłsudski and distributed on April 22, 1919, mainly in Wilno (now Vilnius) after Polish forces captured the city during the Polish-Soviet War.  The proclamation was printed in the Polish and Lithuanian languages and reflected Piłsudski's political intentions for a Międzymorze federation, thereby recreating the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.  The declaration was sharply criticized by both Polish and Lithuanian nationalists.


1943

Ukrainian UPA  attacked the settlement of Janowa Dolina, killing 600 Polish people and burning down the entire village.  The massacres started in March and moved westward to  Kostopol and Sarny counties. In April they moved to the area of Krzemieniec, Rivne, Dubno and Lutsk.  Between late March and early April 1943, killing approximately 7,000 unarmed men, women, and children in its first day.  The massacres continued into 1944.


1945

Soviet forces liberated 3,000 remaining prisoners of Sachsenhausen concentration camp. (As the Red Army advanced, the Nazis prepared Sachsenhausen for evacuation.  On April 20, the SS staff ordered 33,000 prisoners on a forced march northwest.  Many of the prisoners, already emaciated and weak, did not survive. Those whom collapsed were shot by the SS.  The march ended near Raben Steinfeld on May 2 where 18,000 remaining prisoners were liberated by the 2nd Belorussian Front. The Sachsenhausen camp with 3,000 remaining prisoners was liberated on April 22, 1945 by the Red Army and the Polish Army's 2nd Infantry Division.


During the Battle of Berlin, Hitler made Steiner the commander of the Army Detachment Steiner, and ordered him to envelop the 1st Belorussian Front through a pincer movement, advancing to the north of the city.  However Steiner refused to obey because his unit was outnumbered ten to one, and would not have the capacity to launch a counter-attack.  On 22 April 1945, at his afternoon conference, Hitler became aware that Steiner was not going to attack and he flew into a rage. The Fuhrer declared the war was lost, he blamed the generals and announced that he would stay on in Berlin until the end, then kill himself. On the same day, General Rudolf Holste was given what few mobile forces Steiner commanded so that he could participate in a new plan. Holste was to attack from the north while General Walther Wenck attacked from the west and General Theodor Busse attacked from the south.  These German attacks were futile, and on April 25, the Soviet forces captured Berlin. After Germd, any capitulated, Steiner was imprisoned and indicted as part of the Nuremberg Trials. He was cleared of war crimes charges and released in 1948.


German submarine U-518 was depth charged and sunk northwest  of the Azores by U.S. destroyer escorts USS Carter and USS Neal A. Scott.  Her last foray began when she departed Kristians on
March 12, 1945. There were no survivors.




April 21, 2018

APRIL 21 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 21

1909

Józef Stanisław Kosacki (dob) was a Polish professor engineer, inventor, and an officer in the Polish Army during World War II. He is best known as the inventor of the Polish mine detector, the first man-portable mine detector, whose basic design has been in use by various armies for over 50 years.  The device was used until the 1991 Gulf War. During World War II, Kosacki's name was classified in order to protect his family, which had remained behind in German-held Poland. Therefore, most of his patents were submitted under pseudonyms, including "Józef Kos," "Kozacki" and "Kozak." As a result, his surname is often given erroneously in postwar historiography.


1920

Signing of Treaty of Warsaw:  It was a military-economical alliance between the Second Polish Republic, represented by Józef Piłsudski, and the Ukrainian People's Republic, represented by Symon Petliura, against Bolshevik Russia.  For Piłsudski, the alliance gave legitimacy to his campaign for the Międzymorze federation , and secured part of the Polish eastward border. It also established the foundation for a Polish dominated Ukrainian state between Russia and Poland.  For Petliura, it was a last chance to preserve statehood and, at least, the theoretical independence of the Ukrainian heartlands, even while accepting the loss of Western Ukrainian lands to Poland.


1938

Polish Census in 1938 reported that the population of Poland had reached 34,534,000. Before the war, one third of Poland population consisted of numerous ethnic minorities.  After the joint invasion of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union in September 1939, the destruction of the Polish nation, began, in particular Polish Jews, and Polish Christians. By the End of World War II, according to the census of February 1946, the population of Poland was 23,930,000.  (32%  of the casualties were in cities and towns, and 68% from the countryside). Before the war, there were 3.3 million Jews in Poland but by the end of the war, there were only 180,000 to 240,000, settled mostly in Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz, and Wroclaw.


1945

Battle of Bologna was part of the Allied Spring Offensive in Italy and resulted in an Allied victory. The Allied units consisted of the US 5th Army (II Corps, South African 6th Armoured Division, and the British 8th Army (composed of the V Corps and the 2nd Polish Corps.) During this battle, the Polish soldiers learned that Churchill and Roosevelt had given a major part of Polish territories to the Soviet Union, without prior consultation with the Polish Government in Exile. The news of this betrayal, concocted at the Yalta Conference on February 11, came as a profound shock to the Polish soldiers. One of the three Polish divisions was renamed the "Polish 5th Kresowa Infantry Division" after the Kresy region which the Britain and the U.S. handed to the Soviets.  General Wladyslaw Anders, Commander of the 2nd Polish Corps, subsequently requested permission to withdraw his units from the front battle line, though permission was denied. Churchill chided Anders by telling him that "you ( Poles) are no longer needed" but the American and British front line commanders—Generals Richard McCreery, Mark Wayne Clark and Field Marshal Harold Alexander—requested Anders that the Polish units remain in their positions, since they could not be replaced. Hence, Anders eventually decided to keep the Polish units engaged.



Polish-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Mutual Aid and Co-operation was signed by Provisional Government of the Polish Republic without reference to the western allies or the Polish Government in Exile. The Treaty confirmed the Russian position in regards to Poland's borders. Joseph Stalin said during the signing of the Treaty: “The old rulers of Poland did not want to have allied relations with the Soviet Union... The significance  of  this  treaty  is  that  it  liquidates  the old  and  harmful  policy  of  playing between  Germany  and  the  Soviet  Union  and  replaces  it  with  the  policy  of alliance and friendship between Poland and its Eastern neighbor."(Editors note: Stalin's quote revealed his ideology of totalitarianism, albeit covered in diplomatic expression.)



The Battle of the Ruhr Pocket ended in Allied victory. The Ruhr Pocket was a battle of encirclement that took place in late March and early April 1945 in the Ruhr Area of Germany. It marked the end of major organized resistance on Nazi Germany's Western Front, as more than 300,000 German troops were taken prisoner.



German submarine U-636 was depth charged and sunk west of Ireland by HMS Bazely, HMS Drury and HMS Bentinck in position 55°50′N 10°31′W.  There were no survivors.


2017

Opening of the United Nations War Crimes Commission Archive at The Wiener Library.  War crimes files reveal that early reports and evidence of Holocaust death camps that were smuggled out of eastern Europe, are among the tens of thousands of files that were made public for the first time. The once-inaccessible archives of the United Nations War Crimes Commission, dating back to 1943, was opened by the Wiener Library in London and is now open to the public.  The files establish that some of the first demands for justice came from countries that had been invaded, such as Poland and China, rather than Britain, the US and Russia, which eventually coordinated the post-war Nuremberg trials. According to the UNWWC, the Polish Government in Exile supplied the Allies with extraordinarily detailed descriptions of concentration camps such as Treblinka and Auschwitz, where millions of Jews were gassed. These reports had been smuggled out of Nazi-occupied eastern Europe.  (read about Jan Karski, and Witold Pilecki)



April 20, 2018

APRIL 20 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 20

1919

Polish Army captured Vilno, Lithuania from the Soviet Army.  The Polish advance forced Soviets to withdraw their left wing from territories south of the Neris River as well as significantly shortening the Lithuanian–Soviet front line. It allowed Lithuania to concentrate its forces for operations in northeastern Lithuania. However, it also meant that a new front line with Poland was open. At first, both Poles and Lithuanians cooperated against the Soviets, but soon the cooperation transformed into increasing hostility. The first clashes between Polish and Lithuanian soldiers occurred on April 26 and May 8 near Vievis. (Note: Poland did not recognize Lithuania. Józef Piłsudski, its Chief of State, wanted a union with Lithuania in hope of reviving the old Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, that is, a Międzymorze federation, or Intermarium. Poland's actions were not merely part of a military campaign against the Soviets, but a desire for the right of self-determination of local Poles, who formed a significant minority in eastern Lithuania. On the other hand, Lithuanians claimed Vilnius as their own, and were opposed to any federation with Poland, desiring an independent national Lithuanian state.


1924

Juliusz Bogdan Deczkowski (dob) was Polish soldier of Zoska battalion.When the Germans and Soviets invaded Poland in 1939, Juliusz joined the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa). He became a runner with the Polish Scouting Association, which was then operating as the underground Szare Szeregi. In 1944, he took part in the Warsaw Uprising as a member of the Batalion Zośka. In 1949, during the darkest years of Stalinism in Poland he was arrested by the security service and sentenced by a military court to 5 years in prison. After his release, he graduated from the Warsaw University of Technology in November 1953, and became an inventor of medical equipment.


1945

Battle of Berlin:  Soviet artillery began shelling Berlin at 11 a.m. on April 20, Hitler's 56th birthday. Preparations were made to evacuate Hitler and his staff to Obersalzberg to make a final stand in the Bavarian mountains, but Hitler refused to leave his bunker. Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler departed the bunker for the last time. The 1st Belorussian Front led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, advancing from the east and north, started shelling Berlin's city centre, while Marshal Ivan Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front broke through Army Group Centre and advanced towards the southern suburbs of Berlin.


Flossenburg Concentration Camp: In September 1939, the SS transferred 1,000 political prisoners to Flossenbürg from Dachau.  During the war, the Germans expanded the Camp to about 100 subcamps in which prisoners were forced to work in the increasingly important German arms production.  More than 1,000 Soviet prisoners of war were executed in Flossenbürg by the end of 1941.  From 1941 to 1942, about 1,500 Polish prisoners, mostly members of the Polish resistance, were deported to Flossenbürg. In July 1941, SS guards shot 40 Polish prisoners at the SS firing range outside the Flossenbürg concentration camp. Between February and September 1941 the SS executed about one-third of the Polish political prisoners deported to Flossenbürg.  On April 20, 1945, 22,000  prisoners, including 1,700 Jews, were forcibly evacuated. Those too sick to walk were left behind. They were forced on a death march to the Dachau concentration camp and SS guards shot any inmate too sick to keep up. Before they reached Dachau, more than 7,000 inmates had been shot or had collapsed and died. ( see April 23, 1945)


April 19, 2018

APRIL 19 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 19

1938

The inhabitants of Wilno celebrated the 19th anniversary of city's liberation from the Soviets. Dar Pomorza returned to the port of Gdynia, after a 216 -day cruise.  The Dar Pomorza was a Polish full-rigged sailing ship, constructed in 1909 by Blohm & Voss to be a German training ship and named in tribute to the German Prinzess Eitel Friedrich. Following WW1, Friedrich was taken as reparations by Britain and brought to France. Eventually it was sold to the Pomerania community of Poland for 7,000 British pounds, and renamed Dar Pomorza.  Dar Pomorza won the Cutty Sark Trophy in 1980.  She is now preserved at Gdynia as a museum ship.


1943

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising:  In response to the Nazi's attempt to liquidate the Warsaw Ghetto and deport the remaining Jews to Treblinka,  Jewish prisoners instigated an armed resistance from within the walls of the Ghetto.  The Jews refused to surrender. When the SS troops tried to liquidate the Ghetto, the Jews drove them back with gunfire.  Nazi police commander Jurgen Stroop then ordered the burning of the Ghetto, block by block.The aktion ended on May 16, 1943.  It was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II.  A total of 13,000 Jews died, about half of them burnt alive or suffocated.  The surviving 56,000 inhabitants were deported to Treblinka for extermination.  German casualties were not more than 300.


Dawid Moryc Apfelbaum was commander of the Jewish Military Union (Żydowski Związek Wojskowy, ŻZW), during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. He was reportedly killed in the first few days of the Uprising.  (He also fought for Poland, during the German invasion of Poland, joining the troops in defence of Warsaw.) After his death he was promoted to the rank of Major in the Polish Army by the the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa,) AK command. In 2004, the mayor of Warsaw Lech Kaczyński had a square named for Apfelbaum in the city's Wola district.


Mordechai Anielewicz was the leader of the Jewish Fighting Organization (ŻOB), which led the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising; the largest Jewish insurrection during the Second World War, which inspired further rebellions in ghettos and extermination camps. His character was engraved as a symbol of courage and sacrifice, and to this day his image represents Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. In July 1944, Anielewicz was posthumously awarded the Cross of Valour by the Polish Government in Exile, and in 1945 he was also awarded the Cross of Grunwald, 3rd Class by the Polish People's Army. Numerous other awards and memorials were made in his name by the State of Israel and many Jewish organizations.


1945

The Battle of the Seelow Heights ended in Soviet-Polish victory. It was a pitched battle, and one of the last assaults on large entrenched defensive positions. The Battle was fought over three days ending on  the 19th of April 1945.  The road to Berlin lay open -  90 km (56 mi) to the west. By April 23, the city was completely surrounded, and the Battle of Berlin was soon at an end. Within 2 weeks, Adolf Hitler committed suicide and the war in Europe was essentially over.  Close to one million Soviet soldiers of the 1st Belorussian Front (including 78,556 soldiers of the Polish 1st Army), commanded by Marshal Georgi Zhukov, attacked the position known as the "Gates of Berlin".  They were opposed by about 110,000 soldiers of the German 9th Army, commanded by General Theodor Busse, as part of the Army Group Vistula. The defensive line on the Seelow Heights was the last major defensive line outside Berlin.


German submarines were sunk:  U-251 was sunk by rockets from no less than eight British and Norwegian Mosquitos of 143, 235 and 248 squadrons in the Kattegat; U-548 was sunk by depth charges from the American destroyer escorts Reuben James and Buckley; (it is not certain whether U-879 or U-857 was sunk, as both were in the vicinity at the time of the Allied attack.)


1947

The Flick Trial was the fifth of 12 trials of the United States Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (not to be confused with the Nuremberg Trials). It was also called the "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials". The trial was held from April 19 to December 22, 1947 and most well-known of all the trials which tried 22 of the most important captured Nazi Germans. Among the accused were Frederich Flick and five high-ranking directors of a group of companies under his control. The charges were implementing slave labor and plundering. In addition, Flick and Otto Steinbrinck, his senior director, were both charged for their membership in what was named the "Circle of Friends of Himmler". This group was established in 1932, and consisted of many powerful German industrialists and bankers who had given about 1 million Reichsmarks to a special account of Himmler.  Flick was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment, Steinbrinck to 5 years, Weiss to 2 and a half years, and three were acquitted. 



April 18, 2018

APRIL 18 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 18

1025

Bolesław Chrobry (Boleslaw I The Brave) was crowned in Gniezno, becoming the first King of Poland.  Bolesław I was a remarkable politician, strategist, and statesman. He not only turned Poland into a country comparable to older western monarchies, but he raised it to the front rank of European states. Bolesław conducted successful military campaigns in the west, south and east. He consolidated Polish lands and conquered territories outside the borders of what is modern-day Poland. It included Slovakia, Moravia, Red Ruthenia, Meissen, Lusatia, and Bohemia. He was a powerful mediator in Central European affairs.

1518

Bona Sforza was crowned as Queen consort of Poland.  In 1518  she became the second wife of Sigismund I the Old, the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. Their marriage lasted 30 years until Sigismund's death in 1548.  Sforza was ambitious and dynamic, becoming deeply involved in the politics of Poland–Lithuania. In an effort to increase state revenue, she implemented various economic and agricultural reforms, including the far-reaching Wallach Reform in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.  Her reforms made her the richest landowner in the Grand Duchy. In foreign policy, she opposed the Habsburgs and sought to secure her eldest daughter Isabella Jagiellon in the Kingdom of Hungary.


1791

Free Royal Cities Act:  Full title in Polish: Miasta Nasze Królewskie wolne w państwach Rzeczypospolitej;  Full title in English: "Our Free Royal Cities in the States of the Commonwealth", or the Law on the Cities, Prawo o miastach) was an act adopted by the Four-Year Sejm (1788–92) of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the run-up to the adoption of the Constitution of May 3, 1791. The Act was subsequently incorporated in extenso into the Constitution by reference in its Article III.  The Act granted the townspeople of the Commonwealth personal security, the right to acquire landed property, and eligibility for military officers' commissions, public offices. However, it did not give them the rights of szlachta (Polish nobility), but gave the right for ennoblement. Most importantly, the Act provided townspeople the right for representation in Sejm as advisers in the cities' affairs.



1937

During the commemoration of the anniversary of the Battle of Racławice, the police killed 3 participants, wounding several others. The Battle of Racławice was one of the first battles of the Polish Kościuszko Uprising against Russia.  It was began on April 4, 1794 near the village of Racławice in Lesser Poland.


1939

ORP Sęp, built in the Netherlands, arrived in Gdynia ahead of schedule. Earlier in 1939, the Polish engineers noticed a significant slowdown in the construction at the hands of the German workers. The Poles feared that German pressure on The Netherlands might prevent the delivery of the vessel into Polish hands.  To avoid this, the Poles "hi-hijacked" their own sub before it was fully completed.  While in Poland, the Polish team continued to fit the ship with parts coming in from the Netherlands, but the ORP Sep could not be finished before WW2 broke out.


1941

The first Croatian anti-semitic racial law was published on this day. It did not create panic among the Jewish population, because they believed it was merely a continuation of the antisemitic laws of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which had been proclaimed in 1939. However, the situation quickly become ominous on April 30, 1941. Just one day before, on April 17, 1941, Ante Pavelić , a Croatian fascist general and military dictator,  proclaimed a law that remained in effect during the entire period of the Independent State of Croatia. It declared that all people who offended, or tried to offend, the Croatian nation were guilty of the crime of treason—punishable by death.


1945

SS guards began loading 5,000 concentration camp prisoners aboard the immobilized ocean liner Cap Arcona. (more on May 3, 1945)


1950

Polish Catholic church and government signed accord over relations. ( The "Agreement between Government of the Republic of Poland and Episcopate of Poland" dated 14 April 1950, Krakow.) This was the first agreement between the Vatican and a Communist state and was never published in the official gazette. This pragmatic, albeit secret arrangement was intended to grant concessions on both sides. In return for supporting the Polish Communists (and avoiding circumstances that would precipitate the arrival Russian tanks) the government permitted the Church to exercise more influence than their counterparts in other Communist countries.


1994
 
Jerzy and Irena Krępeć were living in Gołąbki near Warsaw during Nazi German occupation of Poland, and provided shelter and assistance to Polish Jews and their families fleeing from the Warsaw Ghetto.  The entire Krepec family helped everybody in need with shelter, food, clothing and moral support. People in the village knew about the numerous Jewish families living at both farms, but nobody betrayed them and all refugees survived.  On this day,  the medal was bestowed to Mrs.Krepec' with the title of Righteous Among Nations by Yad Vashem. The ceremony was held at the Israeli Consulate in Montreal, on December 12, 1995 in the presence of Polish Consul General Małgorzata Dzieduszycki, and the French and English press.

April 17, 2018

APRIL 17 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 17

1938

Pope Pius XI canonized Andrzej Bobola on this day. Bobola was a Polish missionary and martyr in the 17th century and belonged to the Society of Jesus. He was known as the Apostle of Lithuania and the "Hunter of Souls".   He was captured by the Cossacks during the Khmelnytsky Uprising, and after being tortured, was killed on May 16, 1657.  When his remains were found in Pinsk, in 1701, physicians inspected the body and were astonished to see that the remains were "completely incorrupt" with pliable and soft flesh.


1939

General Johan Laidoner arrived in Warsaw. He was Commander-in-Chief of the Estonian Army,  during the Estonian War of Independence. He was among the most influential people in Estonian history between the world wars. After the war Laidoner served as a member of the Riigikogu from 1920 to 1929. He was appointed commander-in-chief during the 1924 Communist coup attempt, and then again from 1934 to 1940, during the authoritarian regime of Konstantin Päts. In June 1940, the Soviet Union occupied Estonia and the other Baltic states.  A year later John Laidoner and his wife Maria were  deported  Penza,  Russia, where they lived in forced exile until the beginning of the war with Germany in June 1941. They were then detained in prisons in Kirov, Ivanovo and Moscow  at "honorary prisoners”, along with Konstantin Päts and several Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish statesmen.  In 1952, the notorious Soviet Ministry of State Security sentenced  Laidoner  to 25 years in prison at Vladimir Prison, where he died on March 13, 1953.  The location of his remains have never been found, but believed to be buried at the prison cemetery.  A memorial plaque was placed there in the 1990s.  His wife Maria, nee Kruszewska (1888–1978), was born of Polish nobility.  She was released from prison a year later, and returned to Estonia. She died in 1978 Viljandi and was buried at Tallinn Inner City Cemetery, next to her son.


1989

Solidarity was legalized and its membership quickly reached 1.5 million. The Solidarity Citizens' Committee (Komitet Obywatelski "Solidarność") was given permission to field candidates in the upcoming elections, and put forward candidates but for only 35% of the seats in the Sejm. There were no restrictions in regard to Senat candidates. Despite these groundbreaking laws, agitation and propaganda still continued unabated right up to election day, but without official reprisals. Despite its shortage of resources, Solidarity managed to carry on an electoral campaign.



April 16, 2018

APRIL 16 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 16

1945

The Battle of the Seelow Heights began on the Eastern Front.  It was one of the last assaults of the Second World War. It was fought over three days.  Close to one million Soviet soldiers of the 1st Belorussian Front (including 78,556 soldiers of the Polish 1st Army), commanded by Marshal Georgi Zhukov, attacked the position known as the "Gates of Berlin". They were opposed by about 110,000 soldiers of the German 9th Army, commanded by General Theodor Busse, as part of the Army Group Vistula. The Seelow Heights was where some of the most bitter fighting in the overall battle took place, but it was only one of several crossing points along the Oder and Neisse rivers where the Soviets attacked. The Battle of the Oder-Neisse was itself only the opening phase of the Battle of Berlin.


The Battle of Berlin began on this day in 1945. It was the final major offensive in World War II European theatre.  Two Soviet fronts attacked Berlin from the east and south, while a third broke through German forces entrenched north of Berlin.  After the successful battles of Seelow Heights and Halbe, the Red Army Army encircled Berlin. Then on April 20, 1945,  the 1st Belorussian Front led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, advancing from the east and north, launched ferocious shelling of Berlin's city centre. Meanwhile Marshal Ivan Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front broke through Army Group Centre and advanced towards the southern suburbs of Berlin. Gradually, the Red Army took control of the entire city.  The three Soviet fronts combined had a total of  2.5 million men (including 78,556 soldiers of the 1st Polish Army), 6,250 tanks, 7,500 aircraft, 41,600 artillery pieces and mortars, 3,255 truck-mounted Katyusha rocket launchers (nicknamed 'Stalin's Pipe Organs'), and 95,383 motor vehicles.


The German transport ship MV Goya was sunk in the Baltic Sea by Soviet submarine L-3 with the loss of over 6,000 lives. The Goya was originally a Norwegian ship but was confiscated by the Nazis upon the invasion of Norway in 1940. On April 16, 1945, Goya was sailing from Gotenhafen (Gdynia) as part of a convoy during Operation Hannibal, serving as both an evacuation ship and Wehrmacht troop transport, moving people from the eastern and southern Baltic to the west. The ship which was meant to accommodate only 850 crew members but was overcrowded with more than 7,000 eastern European refugees, including 200 men of the 25th Panzer Regiment (part of 7th Panzer Division).  Exactly 4 minutes before midnight,  Captain Vladimir Konovalov, commander of L-3, gave the order to fire a spread of four torpedoes. Two torpedoes hit Goya; one struck amidships, the second exploded in the stern. The Goya was consumed in an immense plume of fire with smoke billowing into the sky. The attack was so immense that the ship's masts collapsed on top of the refugees sleeping on the top deck. Moments later, the ship broke in two and it sank in less than four minutes, killing all on board.


German submarines were sunk: U-78 was sunk after being attacked by Soviet land-based artillery while she was docked near the electricity supply pier in the German port of Pillau in East Prussia;  U-880  was sunk by USS Frost and USS Stanton. The Allied ships chased the submerged sub for several hours and finally attacked her with hedgehogs, sinking her. There were no survivors;  U-1274 was sunk in the North Sea by depth charges from British destroyer HMS Viceroy.


Harry S. Truman addressed Congress for the first time as president, in a speech broadcast over the major networks. "With great humility I call upon all Americans to help me keep our nation united in defense of those ideals which have been so eloquently proclaimed by Franklin Roosevelt," Truman said. "I want in turn to assure my fellow Americans and all of those who love peace and liberty throughout the world that I will support and defend those ideals with all my strength and all my heart. That is my duty and I shall not shirk it. So that there can be no possible misunderstanding, both Germany and Japan can be certain, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that America will continue the fight for freedom until no vestige of resistance remains!"


1947

Rudolf Hess was condemned to hang by Polish authorities on April 2, 1947.  The sentence was carried out on this day in 1947. He was hanged  next to the crematorium of the former Auschwitz I concentration camp on a short drop gallows constructed especially for him. (Note: The short drop method ensured that Hoss died a slow, and painful strangulation, and it probably took between ten and twenty minutes for him to die. The message on the board that marks the site read as follows,        "This is where the camp Gestapo was located. Prisoners suspected of involvement in the camp's underground resistance movement or of preparing to escape were interrogated here. Many prisoners died as a result of being beaten or tortured. The first commandant of Auschwitz, SS-Obersturmbannführer Rudolf Höss, who was tried and sentenced to death after the war by the Polish Supreme National Tribunal, was hanged here on 16 April 1947."


2003

European Commission: Signing of the Treaty of Accession was the agreement between the member states of the European Union and ten countries (Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia), concerning these countries' accession into the EU. The Treaty changed a number of points which were originally laid down in the Treaty of Nice.  It was
signed on April  16, 2003 in Athens, Greece and it entered into force on May 1, 2004, resulting in an enlargement of the European Union consisting of 10 states.



April 15, 2018

APRIL 15 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 15

1885

Tadeusz Kutrzeba (dob) was a general of the Polish army during the Second Polish Republic and served as a major general in the Polish Army in World War II. During the invasion of Poland in 1939, General Kutrzeba was commander of the  Poznań Army, composed of four infantry divisions (14, 17, 25, 26) and two cavalry brigades (Wielkopolska and Podolska). He planned the Polish counterattack of the Battle of Bzura and commanded the Poznań and Pomorze Armies. He fought his way to Warsaw and arrived in the capital on September 22, where he briefly became the deputy commander of the Warsaw Army.  Upon the command of Major General Juliusz Rómmel (commander of the Warsaw Army), Kutreba capitulated and began negotiations with the German 8th Army. On September 28, he signed the official surrender documents. He was arrested, and imprisoned in several prisoner of war camps: Hohenstein, Königstein and Oflag VII-A Murnau. General Kutrzeba was a POW until April 1945 when the prison camp was liberated by American forces.


1945

The British 11th Armoured Division liberated Bergen-Belsen concentration camp:  The soldiers discovered about 60,000 prisoners inside, starved and emaciated, and seriously ill. Throughout the camp grounds there were 13,000 corpses which remained unburied. The horrors of the camp have been documented on film and in pictures, and have made the name "Belsen" synonymous with Nazi crimes of WW2. Today, there is a memorial with an exhibition hall at the site.


German submarines were sunk by Allied ships: U-285 was attacked and sunk by depth charges dropped from the British frigates HMS Grindall and Keats southwest of Ireland:  U-1063 was sunk while on her first patrol in the English Channel east of Land's End, south of Bigbury, Devon, by squid depth charges from the British frigate HMS Loch Killin. 29 of the crew were killed, there were 17 survivors and U-1235 was sunk in the North Atlantic by hedgehogs from the destroyer escorts USS Stanton and Frost during Operation Teardrop.



April 14, 2018

APRIL 14 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 14

966

Christianization of Poland, or Baptism of Poland was a ceremony which took place on Holy Saturday, April 14, 966 in the city of Gniezno, Poland. The impetus for this event was the baptism of Mieszko I, the first ruler of the land which would become Poland. Mieszko's wife, Dobrawa of Bohemia, was a major influence on Mieszko's decision to accept Christianity. According to historians, the baptism of Poland marks the beginning of Polish statehood. However, Christianisation was a long and arduous process, since much of the Polish population remained pagan during the 1030s.


1945

Spring Offensive:  The U.S. Fifth Army joined British allies in the assault on German-occupied Italy. The Fifth Army,  under the new command of Lucian K. Truscott  began pushing its way up the peninsula, captured Massa and crossed the Frigido River. Despite fierce  German resistance in the mountains, they were able to disperse German troops into the open. The Fifth Army took Bologna, just after one week of engaging in battle. Then in rapid succession, Ferrara, Bondeno, and Modena also fell.  Then on the 27th, Genoa, and on the 29th, Milan.  The assaults on the enemy almost mimicked that of Napoleon's Italian campaigns.  Italian guerilla groups assisted U.S. efforts, by taking control of the area west of the Como, Milan, and Genoa line.  Finally on April 29, the Germans signed an unconditional surrender at Caserta. But by that time, casualties were enormous;   almost 660,000 Axis troops dead—compared with 321,000 Allied dead.



German submarine U-235 was sunk in error by the Kriegsmarine torpedo boat T-17. The  U-235 was heading to Norway with U-1272 when they encountered a small German convoy accompanied by the torpedo boat T-17. All vessels had not been warned of the others' presence. But the convoy had been warned that a British submarine was in the area. U-1272 dove deep and out of trouble, but U-235 surfaced, possibly to identify herself and then as if changing her mind, also dove. T-17 attacked, dropping depth charges. Any celebration on T-17 was abruptly stilled when among the wreckage appeared were bodies in  Kriegsmarine uniforms. Forty-six men died; there were no survivors.



April 13, 2018

APRIL 13 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 13

1896

Major Wanda Gertz (dob) was a Polish soldier who served in the Polish Legion during World War I while masquerading as a man, She subsequently served in the Ochotnicza Legia Kobiet ("Women's Voluntary Legion") of the Polish Army during the Polish–Soviet War, and was an officer of the Armia Krajowa ("Home Army"), codenamed "Lena", during World War II.  After the beginning of World War I, Gertz joined the 4th Warsaw Battalion, but in August 1915 when the Battalion joined the 1st Brigade of the Polish Legion, women were prohibited from serving in the front lines. That is when she cut off her hair and began to dress in men's clothing. She signed up at the recruitment office of the Polish Legion under the name of "Kazimierz (Kazik)  Zuchowicz". After a few weeks "Kazik" was reassigned to an artillery unit, served there for six months, and engaged in battle during the Brusilov Offensive. She also learned to ride a horse, and served in a signals platoon.  After the outbreak of the Polish–Soviet War in 1919, Gertz enlisted in the Polish Army and was assigned to the 1st Lithuanian–Belarusian Division. She was later appointed Commander of the II. Ochotnicza Legia Kobiet ("2nd Women's Volunteer Legion") in Vilnius. After WW2 broke out Gertz was one of the first women to join the resistance movement Służba Zwycięstwu Polski (SZP, "Service for Poland's Victory"), operating under the code name "Lena". After the Warsaw Uprising, the Germans imprisoned in a camp for POWs. On this day in 1945, the camp was liberated by troops of the U.S. 89th Infantry Division. Major Wanda Gertz was awarded the Silver Cross of the Virtuti Militari, Knight's Cross of the Order of Polish Rebirth, Cross of Valour, Cross of Independence, and Gold Cross of Merit with swords.  A plaque commemorating Wanda Gertz at the Church of John the Baptist, Warsaw.


1909

Stanisław Marcin Ulam (dob) was a Polish-born Jewish American scientist who devoted his life to the fields of mathematics and nuclear physics. He participated in the Manhattan Project, originated the Teller–Ulam design of thermonuclear weapons, discovered the concept of cellular automaton, invented the Monte Carlo method of computation, and suggested nuclear pulse propulsion. The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada.  The Monte Carlo method refers to a broad class of computational algorithms that rely on repeated random sampling to obtain numerical results. Their essential idea is using randomness to solve problems that might be deterministic in principle.


1943

KATYN MASSACRE: German troops had unearthed bodies of Polish soldiers in Katyñ forest and accused Soviets NKVD for the act. When General Sikorski insisted that the Red Cross investigate,  the Soviet Union immediately cut off diplomatic relations with Poland. The Katyn Massacre was a series of mass executions of Polish officers carried out by the NKVD, the Soviet secret police in April and May 1940. The executions took place at several different locations in and around the Katyn Forest, in Smolensk Russia.  The massacre ordered by Lavrentiy Beria, the NKVD chief (document dated March 5, 1940) was approved by the Politburo, and signed by Stalin himself.  Of the 22,000 victims, 8,000 were Polish officers imprisoned during the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland, another 6,000 were police officers, and the rest were Polish intelligentsia that the Soviets accused of being  "intelligence agents, gendarmes, landowners, saboteurs, factory owners, lawyers, officials, and priests". The USSR claimed that the victims had been murdered by the Nazis in 1941 and continued to deny responsibility for the massacres. Finally in 1990, Russia officially acknowledged the Katyn Massacre, condemned the NKVD for the killings, and the coverup by the previous Soviet government administrations.(Editors note:  Other sources report that over 16,000 Polish soldiers were massacred.)

1945

German SS and Luftwaffe troops carried out the Gardelegen Massacre in the northern German town of Gardelegen. The Gardelegen Massacre was perpetrated by German local population from Volkssturm, Hitlerjugend and local firefighters with minor direction of SS during World War II.  German troops, on the Isenschnibbe estate near the northern German town of Gardelegen,  forced 1,016 slave laborers, many of them Poles, who were part of a transport evacuated from the Mittelbau-Dora labor camp into a large barn which was then set on fire. Most of the prisoners were burned alive; some were shot trying to escape. The crime was discovered two days later by F Company, 2nd Battalion, 405th Regiment, U.S. 102nd Infantry Division, when the U.S. Army occupied the area.


1986

Pope John Paul II paid a visit and prayed at Rome's main Synagogue, the first Pope since St Peter ever to cross the threshold of a Jewish temple.



April 12, 2018

APRIL 12 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 12

1945

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had a stroke, collapsed and died while sitting for a portrait painting by Elizabeth Shoumatoff.( The painting is known as the Unfinished portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt). In a majority of polls, historians and political scientists have ranked Roosevelt as the second or third greatest president.  He won a record four presidential elections, making him the first and only President to serve more than two terms. He led the US government during most of the Great Depression, implemented his New Deal in response to the worst economic crisis in US history and became one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. Following the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, which he called "a date which will live in infamy", Roosevelt obtained a declaration of war on Japan the next day, and a few days later, on Germany and Italy. Despite his many achievements, there had been considerable criticism during his presidency regarding his "court-packing plan", ie US Judicial Reform Bill. He was also criticized for being a "warmonger", for being a "Fascist" and for being too friendly to Joseph Stalin.  In his comment about Stalin and the Yalta Conference, President Roosevelt made this comment, "I think that if I give him (Stalin) everything that I possibly can and ask nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won’t try to annex anything and will work for a world of democracy and peace."  No one can deny that such naivety was dangerous, and indeed the aftermath of the Yalta Conference confirmed it.


Harry S. Truman was inaugurated President in the Cabinet Room of the White House and took office, upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He assumed the presidency during the last months of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War.  He approved the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Marshall Plan to rebuild the economy of Western Europe, the establishment of the Truman Doctrine, establishing NATO against Soviet and Chinese communism, for intervening in the Korean War and he supported a newly independent Israel.


German submarines U-486 were sunk by torpedoes from a British submarine, HMS Tapir;  and U-1024 was captured by British frigates HMS Loch Glendhu and HMS Loch More at 53°39′N 05°03′W, but sank the following day while being towed. There were 37 survivors, and 9 died.


The Berlin Philharmonic gave its final performance of the Nazi era, with various members of the military and political elite in attendance. As the concert concluded with the finale of Richard Wagner's Götterdämmerung, members of the Hitler Youth distributed baskets of cyanide capsules among the audience. During the final weeks of the Third Reich and the war in Europe, many civilians, government officials and military personnel throughout Nazi Germany committed suicide. Aside from high-ranking Nazi officials like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, Philipp Bouhler and Martin Bormann, many others chose  Selbstmord (German: Self-murder) rather than accept the defeat of Germany. Studies have shown that the suicides were influenced through Nazi propaganda (reaction to the suicide of Adolf Hitler), the tenets of the Nazi Party, and the anticipated reprisals following the Allied occupation of Nazi Germany. For example in April 1945, at least 1,000 people killed themselves and others within 72 hours as the Red Army neared the East German town of Demmin.


Westerbork Concentration camp was liberated by the Canadian 2nd Infantry Division (the first soldiers to reach the camp were the 8th Reconnaissance Regiment, followed by troops of the South Saskatchewan Regiment.) Westerbork was a transit camp from July 1942 to September 1944. The Nazi Germans sent weekly cargo trains of Jewish prisoners to the extermination camps in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sobibór, Bergen-Belsen, and Theresienstadt. By 1945 over 107,000 Jews had passed through Westerbork on a total of 93 outgoing trains,  to the death camps. Only 5,200 of them survived.


April 11, 2018

APRIL 11 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 11

1079

Bishop Stanislaus of Krakow was executed.  Polish King Bolesław sent his men to execute Bishop Stanisław without trial but when they didn't dare to touch the Bishop, the King decided to kill the Bishop himself. He is said to have slain Stanisław while he was celebrating Mass in the Skałka outside the walls of Kraków. (According to Paweł Jasienica: Polska Piastów, it was actually in the Wawel castle.) The guards then cut the Bishop's body into pieces and scattered them to be devoured by wild beasts. According to the legend, his members miraculously reintegrated while the pool was guarded by four eagles. The exact date of Stanisław's death is uncertain (either April 11 or May 8, 1079).  According to recent historians, Stanisław took part in a plot of nobles, aimed to gain more powers or dethrone the king.  The cult of Saint Stanisław the martyr began immediately upon his death. In 1245 his relics were moved to Kraków's Wawel Cathedral. In the early 13th century, Bishop Iwo Odrowąż initiated preparations for Stanisław's canonization and ordered Wincenty of Kielce to write the martyr's vita. On September 17, 1253, at Assisi, Stanisław was canonized by Pope Innocent IV.  As the first native Polish saint, Stanisław is the Patron of Poland and Kraków, and of some Polish dioceses. He shares the patronage of Poland with Saint Adalbert of Prague, Florian, and Our Lady the Queen of Poland.  Each year on the first Sunday following May 8, a procession, led by the Bishop of Kraków, goes out from Wawel to the Church on the Rock. The procession, once a local event, was popularized in the 20th century by Polish Primate Stefan Wyszyński and Archbishop of Kraków, Karol Wojtyła. Wojtyla, as Pope John Paul II, called Saint Stanisław the patron saint of moral order and wanted his first papal return to Poland to occur in April 1979 in observance of the 900th anniversary to the day of his martyrdom. Unfortunately the Communist government denied his request,, causing the visit to be delayed until June of that year.


1933

Nazis issued a Decree defining a non-Aryan as "anyone descended from non-Aryan, especially Jewish, parents or grandparents. One parent or grandparent classifies the descendant as non-Aryan...especially if one parent or grandparent was of the Jewish faith." This was an amendment to the law passed a few days earlier, banning Jewish people from employment.


1938

Demonstrations by the Maritime and Colonial League in Poland, demanded overseas colonies for Poland. The League was created in 1930 to educate the Polish nation about maritime issues, development of a merchant fleet and navy, and creation of Polish colonies. They recommended Polish settlements in Brazil, Peru, Liberia, Portuguese Mozambique and French possessions in Africa, with Madagascar.  By 1939 the League had widespread popularity, with about one million members.


1939

Adolf Hitler decreed Fall Weiss, the Nazi strategic plan for the invasion of Poland.  It called for a start of hostilities without a declaration of war. And that German units were to invade Poland from the north, west and south. The origins of the plan went back to 1928 when Werner von Fritsch started working on it. Fall Weiss was developed primarily by Günther Blumentritt and Erich von Manstein while the two were serving as staff officers under General Gerd von Rundstedt with Army Group South in Silesia.


1945

Liberation of Buchenwald:  A detachment of soldiers from the US 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, and from the 6th Armored Division, part of the US Third Army, and under the command of Captain Frederic Keffer, arrived at Buchenwald on April 11, 1945 at 3:15 p.m. (This is the time which is permanently displayed on the clock tower at the entrance gate of the camp.) The soldiers were given a hero's welcome, as the emaciated survivors barely found the strength to lift some of them into the air as celebration. Most barely could get out of their bunker beds. Later that same day, elements of the US 83rd Infantry Division liberated Langenstein, a smaller sub-camp of the Buchenwald complex.  The US soldiers liberated over 21,000 prisoners, ordered the mayor of Langenstein to send food and water to the camp, and hurried medical supplies forward from the 20th Field Hospital.


1961

Adolph Eichmann's trial began in Jerusalem for crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He was found guilty and hanged at Ramleh on May 31, 1962. A fellow Nazi reported that Eichmann once said "he would leap laughing into the grave because the feeling that he had five million people on his conscience would be for him a source of extraordinary satisfaction." Eichmann's youngest son Ricardo said that he was not resentful toward Israel for  having executing his father, and that his father's "following orders" argument did not excuse his actions. His son also revealed how his father's lack of remorse caused "difficult emotions" for the Eichmann family. Ricardo is now a professor of archaeology at the German Archaeological Institute.


1968

Polish Marshal Spychalski succeeded Edward Ochab as Chairman of the Polish Council of State.  With Gomułka's rehabilitation and return to power in 1956, Spychalski became the Polish Minister of Defence. In 1959 he returned to the Politburo, and four years later was promoted to Field Marshall. Later, at Gomułka's request he left the Polish Army and his job as Minister of Defense, to accept the appointment as President of the Front of National Unity,and Chairman of the Council of State, which was the de facto Head of State, the Council being the de jure executive authority in the People's Republic, a post that was symbolic in nature.



April 10, 2018

APRIL 10 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

APRIL 10

1941

The Battle of Tobruk, or Siege of Tobruk, lasted for 241 days after Axis forces advanced through Cyrenaica from El Agheila in Operation Sonnenblume. The Allied occupation of Tobruk was crucial to deprive the Axis of a supply port closer to the Egypt–Libya border than Benghazi which was 900 kilometres (560 mi) west of the Egyptian frontier (and within the range of RAF bombers).  For much of the siege, Tobruk was defended by the 9th Australian Division and other troops. General Archibald Wavell, the Commander-in-Chief of Middle East Command ordered Morshead to hold the fortress for eight weeks but the Australians held on for over five months, before being gradually withdrawn during September and replaced by the 70th Infantry Division, the Polish Carpathian Brigade and Czechoslovak 11th Infantry Battalion (East). The fresh defenders held Tobruk until they broke out on November 21 and held open an 8-mile (13 km) corridor, unsupported for several days, then captured Ed Duda on November 26, to link with the advancing Eighth Army, during Operation Crusader.


1945


German submarine U-878 was attacked and sunk in the Bay of Biscay by British warships, HMS Vanquisher and HMS Tintagel Castle, using depth charges and squid mortar. The U-878 was sunk in position 47°35′N 10°33′W, all 51 crew members were killed.


2010

Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash killed Polish President Lech Kaczyński and other dignitaries including the last President of Poland in Exile,  Ryszard Kaczorowski. On 10 April 2010, a Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft of the Polish Air Force crashed near the city of Smolensk, Russia, killing all 96 people on board. \Other victims were the wife of the President, Mrs. Kaczynski, the chief of the Polish General Staff and other senior Polish military officers, the president of the National Bank of Poland, Polish Government officials, 18 members of the Polish Parliament, senior members of the Polish clergy and relatives of victims of the Katyn massacre. The group was arriving from Warsaw to attend an event marking the 70th anniversary of the massacre, which took place not far from Smolensk.  The pilots were attempting to land at Smolensk North Airport – a former military airbase – in thick fog, with visibility reduced to about 500 metres (1,600 ft). The aircraft descended far below the normal approach path until it struck trees, rolled inverted and crashed into the ground, coming to rest in a wooded area a short distance from the runway.  Various conspiracy theories about the crash have since been in circulation, and are promoted by senior political figures in Poland, who claim the crash was a political assassination.


Ryszard Kaczorowski was the last President of the Polish Government in Exile. He resigned his post following Poland's regaining independence from the Soviet sphere of influence and election of Lech Wałęsa as the first democratically elected president of Poland since World War II. He also passed the presidential insignia to Wałęsa, thus ending the 45-years long episode of the Polish government in exile.  Kaczorowski was one of the victims killed in the plane crash which killed President Kaczynski along with many other dignitaries.