December 31, 2018

DECEMBER 31 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

DECEMBER 31

1942

Battle of the Barents Sea was a naval engagement that took place on December 31, 1942. in the Barents Sea, north of North Cape, Norway.  Warships of the German Kriegsmarine attempted to intercept and attack British ships which were escorting convoy JW 51B to Kola Inlet in the USSR. The British fleet included 2 light cruisers, 6 destroyers, 2 corvettes, 1 mine-sweeper and 2 trawlers against Nazi's 2 heavy cruisers and 6 destroyers.  The enemy's objective failed to inflict significant losses on the allied convoy, which infuriated Hitler. Subsequently, he ordered a change in German naval strategy which would concentrate on the U-boat fleet rather than surface ships. British casualties were 1 destroyer damaged,  1 destroyer and 1 minesweeper sunk, and 250 KIA. German casualties were 1 cruiser damaged, 1 destroyer sunk, and 330 KIA.


1944

Polish National Committee of Liberation declared itself the Provisional Government of the Polish Republic. Also known as the PKWN, it was joined by several members of the London-based Polish government in exile, among them Stanisław Mikołajczyk (later chased out of the country).  The PKWN was then transformed into Provisional Government of Republic of Poland.  Henceforth, all departments were renamed, among them the Department of Public Security which became the infamous Ministry of Public Security (a Soviet-controlled secret police).


1989

Poland Regained Sovereignty:  The People's Republic of Poland officially became the Republic of Poland.  Polish history has been one of many catastrophes caused by invasions by neighboring enemy states. Polish as a nation-state ceased to exist for over a hundred years when it had been partitioned and occupied by Germany, Austria and Russia.  Poland regained its independence after the end of World War I by the Treaty of Versailles but on September 1, 1939 was invaded again by Germany, and on September 16, 1939 by the Soviet Union (in accordance with the secret Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact). More than six million Polish citizens (ethnic and Jewish Poles) perished in the war.  Following the end of World War II, the Soviet Union occupied Poland and established it as a satellite state under iron-hand Soviet control.  It wasn't until the rise of Solidarnosc (Solidarity) under the auspices of Lech Walesa, that Poland began its struggle for freedom and independence.  In the aftermath of nation-wide protests as well as international pressure, the Solidarity movement paved the way for the re-emergence of a free, sovereign, and democratic Poland once again.   Lech Walesa was quoted as saying ".....We respect the dignity and the rights of every man and every nation. The path to a brighter future of the world leads through honest reconciliation of the conflicting interests and not through hatred and bloodshed. To follow that path means to enhance the moral power of the all-embracing idea of human solidarity...."


2018

Polish Greatness (Blog) wishes to thank all those who share an interest in Polish history and culture, and who have visited this blog (as well as the parent website, Polish Greatness.com.)  In a world that is so unpredictable and changing so quickly, it is important to learn about history. Greater understanding is essential to avoid the errors and tragedies of the past.  It is my greatest hope that the world leaders will use calm, intelligence, justice and collaboration to nurture a world of peace, tolerance, democracy and protection of human rights.



Zbliżający się Nowy Rok niesie wszystkim nadzieję
na uspokojenie, życzliwość i spełnienie marzeń.
W te piękne i jedyne w roku chwile
chcę złożyć najlepsze życzenia
pogodnych, zdrowych i radosnych dni
oraz szczęśliwego Nowego Roku !



The upcoming New Year brings hope to all
to calm, friendliness and a dream come true.
In these beautiful and unique moments
I want to send my best wishes
cheerful, healthy and joyful days
and a Happy New Year !




December 30, 2018

DECEMBER 30 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

DECEMBER 30

1939

Captain Jan Górski was a Polish Army officer who had escaped to France after the invasion of Poland. On December 30, 1939 he submitted several reports to the Polish Chief of Staff proposing the creation of a special Polish covert unit. Its purpose was to maintain links with the underground Polish resistance movement, ZWZ and fight against the enemy using covert operation. At first the reports were ignored but finally General Zajac, Commander of the Polish Air Force, recognized the urgency of such a unit, but that the PAF did not have the transport or training facilities to support such a plan. After the Fall of France, Gorski and his colleagues fled to Britain, and proposed the plan to British Command but it was not considered.  On September 20, 1940 Polish General Wladyslaw Sikorski, ordered the creation of Section III, whose purpose would be contingency planning for covert operations in Poland, air delivery of arms and supplies, and training of paratroops.


1941

Churchill's 'Chicken' Speech:  Churchill gave a powerful speech to the Canadian Parliament on December 30, 1941. Here are some excerpts: "…..That grand old minstrel, Harry Lauder – Sir Harry Lauder, I should say, and no honour was better deserved – had a song in the last War which began, “If we all look back on the history of the past, we can just tell where we are.” Let us then look back. We plunged into this war all unprepared because we had pledged our word to stand by the side of Poland, which Hitler had feloniously invaded, and in spite of a gallant resistance had soon struck down. There followed those astonishing seven months which were called on this side of the Atlantic the “phoney” war. Suddenly the explosion of pent-up German strength and preparation burst upon Norway, Denmark, Holland, and Belgium......On top of all this came the great French catastrophe. The French Army collapsed, and the French nation was dashed into utter and, as it has so far proved, irretrievable confusion. The French Government had at their own suggestion solemnly bound themselves with us not to make a separate peace. It was their duty and it was also their interest to go to North Africa, where they would have been at the head of the French Empire. In Africa, with our aid, they would have had overwhelming sea power. They would have had the recognition of the United States, and the use of all the gold they had lodged beyond the seas. If they had done this Italy might have been driven out of the war before the end of 1940, and France would have held her place as a nation in the counsels of the Allies and at the conference table of the victors. But their generals misled them. When I warned them that Britain would fight on alone whatever they did, their generals told their Prime Minister and his divided Cabinet, “.....In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken..." Some chicken............ (Churchill then paused to allow response - loud laughter and applause from Canadian politicians)...........Some neck....." (followed by standing ovation, and much applause)


1947

The High Command Trial was the last 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 December 30, 1947 to October 28, 1948. The accused were high-ranking generals of the Wehrmacht (including a field marshal and a former Admiral).  They were charged with having planned, facilitated or participated in carrying out numerous war crimes and atrocities in German-occupied countries during the war.   Of the 14 defendants, two were acquitted on all counts. Johannes Blaskowitz committed suicide during the trial. The remaining defendants received prison sentences from three years to life imprisonment,  including time served.



December 29, 2018

DECEMBER 29 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

DECEMBER 29

1940

The Second Great Fire of London:  On the night of December 29 to 30, 1940, over 136  German bombers dropped about 100,000 bombs on London.  The city was engulfed in fires that covered a greater area than the infamous Great Fire of London in 1666.  Most targets were non-residential buildings such as businesses, warehouses, and churches.  Firefighters struggled desperately to put out the flames but were hampered by a water shortage. The main water-main in the City was bombed. They could not even obtain  water from other hydrants as it caused that the water pressure to drop.  Attempts to draw water from the River Thames were in vain as the river was in low tide and the wind fanned the inferno even further.  The German bombers had dropped incendiary bombs on London's beloved St. Paul's Cathedral, and there were fears that it would be destroyed in the raid.  Churchill was adamant that the Cathedral be saved at all costs. According to an eye-witness report by American correspondent Ernie Pyle,  "....The greatest of all the fires was directly in front of us. Flames seemed to whip hundreds of feet into the air. Pinkish-white smoke ballooned upward in a great cloud, and out of this cloud there gradually took shape—so faintly at first that we weren’t sure we saw correctly—the gigantic dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. St Paul’s was surrounded by fire, but it came through. It stood there in its enormous proportions—growing slowly clearer and clearer, the way objects take shape at dawn. It was like a picture of some miraculous figure that appears before peace-hungry soldiers on a battlefield......."


US President Franklin D. Roosevelt Fireside Chat "Arsenal of Democracy":  ".......We face this new crisis -- this new threat to the security of our nation .....The Nazi masters of Germany have made it clear that they intend not only to dominate all life and thought in their own country, but also to enslave the whole of Europe, and then to use the resources of Europe to dominate the rest of the world.....We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war.  We have furnished the British great material support and we will furnish far more in the future. There will be no "bottlenecks" in our determination to aid Great Britain. No dictator, no combination of dictators, will weaken that determination by threats of how they will construe that determination.......The British have received invaluable military support from the heroic Greek army and from the forces of all the governments in exile. Their strength is growing. It is the strength of men and women who value their freedom more highly than they value their lives.......We have no excuse for defeatism. We have every good reason for hope -- hope for peace, yes, and hope for the defense of our civilization and for the building of a better civilization in the future............."


1943

"Operation Partridge"  was a British Commando raid during the Second World War, that took place during the Italian Campaign by No. 9 Commando. The Operation was a diversionary raid behind the German lines, to cover the withdrawal of the X Corps in preparation for its proposed assault across the Garigliano river.  No. 9 Commando landed on the north shore of the estuary during the night and attacked several German positions before withdrawing across the river in DUKWs.  The No.4 and No.6 troops  had to cross 2,700 yards (2,500 m) upriver by using ropes and swimming. Casualties were nine commando KIA, but the unit captured 29 prisoners.