POLISH GREATNESS TRAFFIC

October 16, 2018

OCTOBER 16 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

OCTOBER 16

1384

Jadwiga was crowned King of Poland, despite being a woman:  Jadwiga  was the first female monarch of the Kingdom of Poland, and reigned from October 16, 1384 until her death on July 17, 1399. She was the youngest daughter of Louis the Great, King of Hungary and Poland, and his wife Elizabeth of Bosnia. Jadwiga was a member of the Capetian House of Anjou, but she had closer links among the Polish Piasts. The turmoil that erupted after the death of Louis the Great subsided upon the arrival of King Jadwiga to Poland.   According to Jan Dlugosz, a 15-th century Polish historian, King Jadwiga was greeted "with a display of affection" by a  large crowd of clerics, noblemen and burghers. Nobody protested when Archbishop Bodzanta crowned her.  Historians propose that the Polish lords prevented her eventual spouse from acquiring the same title without their consent.   Jadwiga would not be a queen consort, but rather a king, reflective of being queen regnant.  Though she was just a child at her coronation, she grew into wisdom and became a skilled and gracious ruler.  Jadwiga was the greatest ruler in Poland's history and accomplished much during her young life.  Her marriage to Władysław-Jogaila enabled the union of Poland and Lithuania.  She succeeded in preserving peace with the Teutonic Order, which gave Poland the means with which to make preparations for a decisive war against the Knights.  She was involved with many cultural and charitable activities,  established new hospitals, schools and churches, and restored older ones.  Jadwiga was instrumental in promoting the use of the vernacular in church services so that hymns would be sung in Polish.  Even the Holy Scriptures were translated into Polish according to her orders.  Jadwiga was very religious and attended Mass every day.  She was venerated shortly after her death, and many miracles have been attributed to her intervention.  She was beatified on August 8, 1986  by Pope John Paul II, and canonized on August 8, 1986.


1939

Franciszek Charwat, a Polish consul, departed from Kaunas, Lithuania on October 16, 1939 after the Soviet-Lithuanian Treaty was concluded just days earlier. The Treaty guaranteed Lithuania of the inviolability of its sovereignty, and granted Lithuania about one fifth of the Vilnius Region, including the nation's historical capital, Vilnius. But in exchange, Lithuania "accepted" five Soviet military bases with 20,000 Soviet troops stationed throughout Lithuanian territory. To do so was an outright sacrifice of their own independence amid hostile Soviet occupation.  Charwat strongly protested this treaty, but to no avail.  He fled to France with the Polish delegation, where he was accused of arbitrary liquidation of the branch in Kaunas.  (During the interwar period, Kaunas was designated as the temporary capital of Lithuania, whereas Vilnius was the declared capital and was under Polish control from 1920 to 1939.)


The German Luftwaffe launched its first air raid on the British Isles on October 16, 1939.  It's main target was the Royal Naval Home Fleet anchored at Scapa Flow located at the very tip of northern Scotland. Nine Junkers Ju 88s targeted the Firth of Forth, damaging three British ships, the HMS Southampton, the HMS Edinburgh and the destroyer Mohawk,  killing sixteen RAF crewman and wounding 44 others. Three Spitfires from two British squadrons, no.602 and no.603 immediately intercepted the nine Junkers, and shot down two of them, damaging a third. It was the first enemy aircraft to be shot down over the UK since 1918, and the first RAF victory in the Second World War.   The Supermarine Spitfire was developed just prior to the outbreak of World War Two, and became the legendary bastion of British air supremacy during the war. It was the finest aircraft fighter ever built and surpassed planes of the Nazi German Luftwaffe, in speed and maneuverability.  The Junkers JU88 could carry a 2,000 kg (4,410 lb) payload and travel at a speed of 514 km/h (320 mph).  The prototype for the Spitfire MK took its maiden flight on May 14, 1938,  clocking a top speed of 571 km/h  (355 mph) with a range out to  804 km (500 miles), and a service ceiling nearing 10 km ( 34,000 feet).


"Wild Resettlements" Continue: Polish citizens residing in Gdynia were ordered to leave their homes or face arrest and imprisonment in Nazi German concentration camps. Hitler had decreed on September 19, 1939, that Gdynia belonged to Germany, and renamed the Polish port, "Gotenhafen" (Port of Goths). Even before the outbreak of war, the Nazi German Party intended to implement its plan to remove the Polish population from the Pomeranian "corridor" to central and eastern Poland. During October and November of 1939, the plan was carried out by the SS Police, the Wehrmacht, and Selbstschutz branches comprised of local German nationals.  The main targets were Polish businessmen, landowners, and craftsmen, whose assets were of particular interest to the local Germans and authorities. The Nazi Germans seized possession of large apartments in which to set up their headquarters. The  mass "wild displacements" began on October 12, 1939. The Nazi Germans issued its first announcement by radio, and bulletins. Here is a translation to English:   "For safety reasons, I command the evacuation of the Polish population (of the) Orłowo district, excluding Kolibki and Mały Kac, until (sic) Thursday, October 12th 1939 at 9.00."  Over 4,000 Polish people left Gdynia Orłowo on that day, which included about one thousand children.  They all took temporary refuge in the cities in the districts of Grabówek, Chylonia, and Witomino. From there, the Nazis deported them by cattle car to the General Gouvernement  in central Poland. Many Poles perished during the journey due to lack of water, or illness. Others were shot while trying to escape. (The General Gouvernment was the administrative center of Nazi German occupation in Poland. The territory was administered like a vast penal colony. Though Polish Christians were allowed to walk freely, the Nazis regularly rounded up hundreds of Polish citizens (men, women and children) and publicly executed them by machine gun fire, or hung them from lamposts and balconies.)


1943

Nazi Raid of Jewish Ghetto in Rome:  On October 16, 1943 the Gestapo raided the Jewish Ghetto in Rome, and arrested 1,259 Jews, comprising 363 men, 689 women and 207 children.  Of these, 1,023 were deported to the Nazi German Auschwitz death camp. Only 15 men and one woman survived. When the Nazi Germans entered Rome a month earlier, they comprised lists of the Jewish residents of the city, with the intention of later rounding them up. The Nazis demanded 50 kilograms of gold from the Jewish community, and threatened to deport them unless the ransom was paid. Roman citizens (Jews and non-Jews) converged to help in any way by turning over gold jewelry and watches, in an effort to help the Jewish community.  Tragically, the payment did not protect the Jews, but only postponed the inevitable. On this day in 1943,  thousands of Jews went into hiding in many Catholic institutions, and in the Vatican. (According to the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, Pope Pius XII issued a diplomatic protest against the Nazi order to expel the Jews. His Holiness also sheltered many Jews as well as did Rabbi Zolli.)


1946

Nuremberg Trials - Day of Hanging:  Ten of the top Nazi officials were hanged on this day. They were Hans Frank,  Joachim von Ribbentrop, Wilhelm Frick,  Alfred Jodl.  Ernst Kaltenbrunner,  Wilhelm Keitel, Alfred Rosenberg, Fritz Sauckel, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Julius Streicher.  Hermann Goring was the highest ranking Nazi official to be tried at Nuremberg, but he committed suicide two hours before the scheduled execution.  Sentences:  Martin Bormann (sentenced to Death in absentia); Karl Donitz (sentenced, but released 10 years later on a legal technicality); Hans Fritzsche (acquitted);  Walther Funk (sentenced to Life Imprisonment, but released in 1957 due to ill health);  Rudolph Hess (Life Imprisonment, he committed suicide in August 1987);  Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach (medically unfit for trial, he was paralyzed since 1941);  Robert Ley (committed suicide October 1945); Baron Konstantin von Neurath (sentenced to 15 years but released in 1954 due to ill health. He died August 1956); Franz von Papen ( Aquitted following appeal after serving only 2 years); Erich Raeder (sentenced to Life Imprisonment but released in 1955 due to ill health and died in Nov 1960);  Dr. H. Hjalmar Schacht (acquitted, allegations of a conspiracy by British financiers for his release); Baldur von Schirach (sentenced to 20 years, served full sentence); Albert Speer (sentenced to 20 years and served full sentence).


1978

Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyła was elected Pope and took the name John Paul II. He was the first non-Italian elected to the papacy in 455 years. Church bells rang out and a wave of euphoria swept throughout Poland in celebration of this unprecedented event. (However, the election of a Polish Pope upset officials at the Kremlin, who considered it a revolt against Soviet rule, especially amidst the growing unrest among Polish trade unions.)




October 15, 2018

OCTOBER 15 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

OCTOBER 15

1941

German authorities decreed that any Jews found outside of ghetto walls in Poland would be executed on sight. The document was posted everywhere in Polish and German.  The following is an English translation, " NOTICE   Concerning the sheltering of escaping Jews  There is a need for a reminder, that in accordance with Paragraph 3 of the decree of October 15, 1941, on the Limitation of Residence in General Government (page 595 of the GG Register) Jews leaving the Jewish Quarter without permission will incur the death penalty.    According to this decree, those knowingly helping these Jews by providing shelter, supplying food, or selling them foodstuffs are also subject to the death penalty. This is a categorical warning to the non-Jewish population against:  1) Providing shelter to Jews,  2) Supplying them with Food,  3) Selling them Foodstuffs.     Tschenstochau,  Częstochowa, 24.9.42   Der Stadthauptmann  Dr. Franke."   (Editors comment:  Despite this notice, and reminder, many Jews continued trying to escape from the ghetto, and many Polish people continued to try to help them, at great risk to themselves and their families.)


1942

The Brzesc Ghetto was liquidated from October 15–18, 1942.   20,000 Jewish inhabitants of Brześć were murdered; over 5,000 were executed locally at the Brest Fortress on the orders of Karl Eberhard Schöngarth; and the rest were transported by train under the guise of "resettlement"  to  the secluded forest of the Bronna Góra extermination site. The Reverend Władysław Grobelny from Kobryń near Brześć was executed on October 15, 1942 together with the Jews he was helping. Father Jan Urbanowicz, Dean of the Holy Cross Parish in Brześć, was executed by the Germans in June 1943 for issuing false Christian baptismal certificates for the Polish Jews. Father Mieczysław Akrejć, a Catholic priest from Brześć, contributed 4,000 gold rubles to help the Judenrat pay the huge ransom to the Germans. His efforts were in vain as the Germans liquidated the ghetto a few days later.


1944

On October 15, 1944 at 2:00 pm,  Admiral Miklos Horthy, Hungary's Regent, made a radio broadcast to the nation announcing that he had signed an armistice with the Soviet Union. Shortly after the announcement, the Arrow Cross Party, supported by the Nazi Germans,  seized control of the radio station. This was a Nazi German plan code named Operation Panzerfaust.  The Nazis arrested Horthy, and detained him at the Wafen SS offices. Horthy was ordered to sign a statement renouncing the armistice, on the threat of his son's life, and he signed it.  Later he said, "I neither resigned nor appointed Szálasi Premier, I merely exchanged my signature for my son’s life. A signature wrung from a man at machine-gun point can have little legality." But despite having signed the renunciation, Horthy's son remained in concentration camp until he end of the war, and Horthy was imprisoned at Schloss Hirschberg near Weilheim, Germany, where he was guarded by 100 Waffen SS men at all times.


1945

Pierre Laval Was Executed For Treason:   On October 15, 1945, Pierre Jean-Paul Laval was executed in front of a firing squad at Fresnes Prison, in France. After the trial and sentencing,  Laval attempted to commit suicide but failed. The poison he ingested was not potent enough. He was nursed back to health, and executed on the prescribed day. Laval was a politician in the Vichy regime during World War Two. When France fell, and the Nazi Germans were about to occupy France, Petain formed a new government, appointing Laval as Minister of Justice.  Laval reacted angrily and insisted that he be given the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs.  With his ambitious objectives sated,  Laval joined his Nazi French collaborators in the Vichy regime and met frequently with Hitler.  Laval openly sympathized with fascism and was convinced that the Germans would win the war.  In November of 1940, he unilaterally handed  RTB Bor copper mines and Belgian gold reserves over to the Nazi Germans.


1946

Hermann Goring Committed Suicide:   Goring was a member of the Nazi Party and rose through the ranks to become one of the most powerful officers in the regime.  He established the infamous Gestapo, and was C-C of the Luftwaffe. By 1941 he became leader of the Nazi German armed forces, and was designated by Hitler as his successor.  After the war, Goring was tried at Nuremberg.   He was indicted on four charges, including a charge of conspiracy; waging a war of aggression; war crimes, including the plundering and removal to Germany of works of art and other property; and crimes against humanity, including the disappearance of political and other opponents under the Nacht und Nebel (Night and Fog) decree; the torture and ill-treatment of prisoners of war; and the murder and enslavement of civilians, including what was at the time estimated to be 5,700,000 Jews.  The trial lasted 218 days and the sentence was proclaimed on September 30, 1946. During the proceedings Goring used gestures, shaking his head and even laughing out loud.  He constantly wrote notes and whispered with the other defendants attempting to influence their testimony.  He called the court "stupid" and claimed he did not know most of the other defendants before the trial.   He was sentenced to death by hanging on October 15, 1946.  But before the sentence could be carried out, he ingested a cyanide capsule the night before.



October 14, 2018

OCTOBER 14 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

OCTOBER 14

1773

The Commission for National Education was formed in Poland:  On October 14, 1773, the Commission for National Education of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was established.  Its purpose was to combine the educational systems of both Poland and Lithuania under one national controlling body,  which would be wholly responsible for education.  The decision for such a commission was imperative, following the decision of Pope Clement IV to dissolve the Jesuit Order.  Previously, education in Poland and Lithuania was conducted mainly by the Jesuits, and without them the educational system would be in left in complete disarray. Lithuanian Vice-Chancellor Joachim Chreptowicz and Bishop of Vilnius, Ignacy Ksiaze Massalski proposed to the Polish - Lithuanian Sejm that such a commission be established not only to continue the work of the Jesuits, but to assume control of all educational matters, and be directly responsible to the Sejm.


1939

German submarine U-47 under the command of Gunther Prien, penetrated the British naval base at Scapa Flow and sank the WWI era battleship HMS Royal Oak. After firing its first torpedo, the enemy submarine turned to make its escape; but, upon realizing that there was no immediate threat from surface vessels, it returned for another attack. The second torpedo blew a 30-foot (9.1 m) hole in the Royal Oak, which flooded and quickly capsized. Of the 1,400-man crew, 833 were lost including Rear Admiral Henry Blagrove. The wreck is now a protected war grave.


1940

The Blitz Continued. The fiercest German attack during the Battle of Britain occurred on October 14, 1940 when 380 German bombers attacked London. British casualties were 200 killed and 2000 injured. British anti-aircraft defences responded with 8,326 rounds of fire power but shot down only two bombers.  When the German bombers returned the next day, they dropped 415 tons of high explosive bombs and 11 short tons of incendiary explosives on London, setting about 900 fires raging throughout the city, and damaging rolling stock, and five main railway lines. During the month of October the Germans dropped a total of  9,000 short tons during the day, and over 6,000 short tons at night. Birmingham and Coventry were hard hit and over the course of the last week of October were hit with  500 short tons of bombs between them.   Liverpool , Hull and Glasgow were also hit.  The Germans dropped about  800 short tons of bombs over Britain.


1942

Mass killing of Jews from Mizocz Ghetto in the Ukraine.  On October 12, 1942,  the Mizocz Ghetto was surrounded by Ukrainian auxiliaries and German policemen in preparation for liquidation action and the pacification of its 1,700 Jewish occupants. The Jews launched an uprising and fought back for two days.  Half of the Jews were able to escape or hide before the uprising was put down.  On October 14, Nazis captured the escapees, and transported them by trunks to an isolated ravine, where they were executed one by one.  The executions were actually photographed. The images were owned by SS-Unterscharführer Schäfer and in 1945 were confiscated and became part of the Ludwigsburg investigation (ZSt. II 204 AR 1218/70). The images had been published, and have become well known.


1943

300 Jews and Soviet POWs escaped from Sobibor:    On October 14, 1943, about 600 prisoners tried to escape Sobibor death camp.  Half of them succeeded in crossing the fence, and fifty managed to evade capture.  Several days after the uprising,  Heinrich Himmler ordered the camp closed, dismantled, and planted with trees. The gas chambers were demolished and their foundations were covered with asphalt and made to look like a road. The Nazis forced the last prisoners still in the camp, to dismantle the buildings, after which they were murdered.  Four of the chambers were uncovered by archaeologists in 2014, using modern technology. Today, the site is occupied by the Sobibór Museum, which displays a pyramid of ashes and crushed bones of the victims, collected from the cremation pits.   After the war, Karol Frenzel, the third-in-command at Sobibór,  was put on trial and convicted of war crimes in 1966. Though he was sentenced to life, he was released after serving sixteen years. He appealed the sentence due to the supposed state of his health.  He was interviewed on tape in 1983, in which he stated the following, "......Poles were not killed there (in Sobibor). Gypsies were not killed there. Russians were not killed there....only Jews, Russian Jews, Polish Jews, Dutch Jews, French Jews."


1957

Riots in Warsaw:  Last week in the heart of Warsaw over a period of four nights, thousands of rioting Polish university students converged chanting taunting shouts of "Gestapo, Gestapo" amid the whomp and hiss of exploding tear-gas canisters. The riots broke out when 2,000 students assembled at the big student hostelry in downtown Narutowicza Square to protest the decision of Wladyslaw Gomulka in banning the student weekly paper, Po Prostu. The paper was Polands' boldest and best-known crusading student weekly.