POLISH GREATNESS TRAFFIC

February 25, 2018

FEBRUARY 25 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

FEBRUARY 25

1956

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave a speech that was vehemently critical of the dictatorship of the late Premier Joseph Stalin. Entitled "On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences" Khrushchev spoke at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and railed against the legacy of Stalin, in particular the great purges he decreed, and his cultivation of a leadership based on personality cult, despite supporting communist ideals. It created an uproar and shock among the audience, ending with thunderous applause.  Here are excerpts of his speech: " .......After Stalin’s death, the Central Committee began to implement a policy of explaining concisely and consistently that it is impermissible and foreign to the spirit of Marxism-Leninism to elevate one person, to transform him into a superman possessing supernatural characteristics, akin to those of a god. Such a man supposedly knows everything, sees everything, thinks for everyone, can do anything, is infallible in his behavior.........Because not all as yet realize fully the practical consequences resulting from the cult of the individual, [or] the great harm caused by violation of the principle of collective Party direction and by the accumulation of immense and limitless power in the hands of one person, the Central Committee considers it absolutely necessary to make material pertaining to this matter available to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union......the classics of Marxism-Leninism denounced every manifestation of the cult of the individual.......Facts prove that many abuses were made on Stalin’s orders without reckoning with any norms of Party and Soviet legality. Stalin was a very distrustful man, sickly suspicious. We know this from our work with him. He could look at a man and say: “Why are your eyes so shifty today?” or “Why are you turning so much today and avoiding to look me directly in the eyes?” The sickly suspicion created in him a general distrust even toward eminent Party workers whom he had known for years. Everywhere and in everything he saw “enemies,” “two-facers” and “spies.” Possessing unlimited power, he indulged in great willfulness and stifled people morally as well as physically. A situation was created where one could not express one’s own volition........When Stalin said that one or another should be arrested, it was necessary to accept on faith that he was an “enemy of the people.” Meanwhile, Beria’s gang, which ran the organs of state security, outdid itself in proving the guilt of the arrested and the truth of materials which it falsified. And what proofs were offered? The confessions of the arrested, and the investigative judges accepted these “confessions.” And how is it possible that a person confesses to crimes which he has not committed? Only in one way –because of the application of physical methods of pressuring him, tortures, bringing him to a state of unconsciousness, deprivation of his judgment, taking away of his human dignity. In this manner were “confessions” acquired......"
(Source:  Speech to 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. February 24, 1956  https://www.marxists.org/archive/khrushchev/1956/02/24.htm


1991

A meeting of defence and foreign ministers of the Warsaw Pact met in Hungary, and declared that the Warsaw Pact would be disbanded after 36 years of military alliance between the USSR and its satellite states. Its formal dissolution was declared by President Vaclav Havel, the Czechoslovak President, on July 1st, 1991, in Prague. Five months later, in December,  the USSR disestablished itself.





February 24, 2018

FEBRUARY 24 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

FEBRUARY 24

1920

The National Socialist German Workers' Party  (NSDAP) known as the Nazi party, was founded on this day. Its precursor was the German Workers' Party (DAP), which existed from 1919 to 1920.  The NSDAP grew from several small political groups which were strongly nationalistic, and which formed in the last years of World War I.  In 1918, a league called the Free Workers' Committee for a good Peace was founded in Bremen Germany.  Anton Drexler, a fervent German nationalist created a branch of the league in Munich on March 7, 1918.  Drexler was a local locksmith who was a member of the militarist Fatherland Party during World War I,  and was bitterly opposed to the armistice of November 1918 and its aftermath. He followed the views of militant nationalists who opposed the Treaty of Versailles and disseminated antisemitic,  anti-monarchist and anti-Marxist views. He believed in the superiority of Germans, who claimed to be so-called Aryan master race.  He denounced international capitalism as a Jewish-dominated movement, and denounced capitalists for war profiteering in World War I. Drexler saw the political violence and instability in Germany the result of the Weimar Republic being out-of-touch with the masses, especially the lower classes. and emphasized the need for a form of economic socialism, in order to create a popular nationalist-oriented workers' movement that could challenge the rise of Communism and internationalist politics. He received attention and support from influential people who convinced him to form a political party.  In January 5, 1919, he founded the German Workers Party (DAP) and shortly thereafter Hitler (stationed in the Munich army) began its seventh member.  The party gained public attention very quickly and on February 24, 1920 had its largest gathering of 2,000 people, at which Hitler enunciated the twenty-five points of the German Workers' Party manifesto that he drew up with Drexler and Feder. Hitler presented a bolder strategy calling for the abrogation of the Treaty of Versailles, expanding German borders, exclusion of Jews from German citizenship, confiscation of war profits, among other objectives.  The manifesto was antisemetic, anti-capitalist, anti-Marxist, and anti-liberal.  The party name changed to  Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei ("National Socialist German Workers' ). The word socialist was added to appeal to a larger segment of the population, that is,  left-wing workers.


1938

The British Labour Party issued a manifesto demanding that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain call a new general election to assess whether the public supported his appeasement policy.  The manifesto was read in the British House of Commons. Here is an excerpt: "The British Labour movement reaffirms its uncompromising opposition to any agreement with either Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany on the basis indicated by the Prime Minister in his statement to Parliament. This is not the time for concessions to the dictators. We need a clear declaration that Britain stands for the enforcement of treaties against lawless force and against aggressive interference in the internal affairs of independent States. Czechoslovakia in particular should be assured at once that Great Britain and the other League Powers will fulfill their obligations to maintain her integrity and independence." Chamberlain served as Prime Minister from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, which conceded Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany. Chamberlain was sure that the Agreement brought in a new era of peace, but then as now, was severely criticized for not preparing Britain for an inevitable war with Germany. On March 15, 1939, Hitler invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia, and on September 1, 1939 invaded Poland.  Three days later, Chamberlain declared war on Germany,  and the ensuing eight months consisted of minimal fighting, aptly termed the Phoney War.   Chamberlain died on November 9, 1940 at the age of 71. A few days before his death, Chamberlain wrote, " So far as my personal reputation is concerned, I am not in the least disturbed about it. The letters which I am still receiving in such vast quantities so unanimously dwell on the same point, namely without Munich the war would have been lost and the Empire destroyed in 1938 ... I do not feel the opposite view ... has a chance of survival. Even if nothing further were to be published giving the true inside story of the past two years I should not fear the historian's verdict."


1945

The Lower Silesian Offensive ended in Soviet victory. Faced with heavy German reinforcement, Konev closed the offensive phase of operations, having secured a small bridgehead across the Neisse near Forst. This effectively defined the start lines in that sector for the Battle of Berlin, or Berlin Offensive, two months later.


1953

Soviets Executed Polish General:  Emil August Fieldorf, code-named"Nil" was a Polish Brigadier General,  and Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Armia Krajowa (AK or "Home Army"), after the failure of the Warsaw Uprising. The Soviet NKVD executed Fieldorf on February 24, 1953. (Note: In 1948 the Soviet regime was arresting and persecuting former resistance fighters loyal to the Polish Government in Exile in London and offering them "amnesty".  General Fieldor refused to collaborate with the Communist security services, even under torture.  Fieldorf was accused by prosecutor Helena Wolińska-Brus of being a "fascist-Hitlerite criminal" and for having ordered an execution of Soviet partisans while serving in the Armia Krajowa, AK (Polish Home Army).  Following a kangaroo court trial, he was sentenced to death on April 16, 1952 by the presiding judge Maria Gurowska.  An appeal to a higher court failed, and the family's plea for a pardon was denied by then the communist leader Bolesław Bierut who refused to grant clemency. The sentence was carried out, by hanging, on February 24, 1953 at 3:00 pm in the infamous Mokotów Prison in Warsaw.  General Fieldorf's body was never returned to his family. His remains are buried in a location, still unknown to this day.



February 23, 2018

FEBRUARY 23 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

FEBRUARY 23

1945

The Battle of Poznań ended in Soviet victory.  It was a massive assault by the Soviet Union's Red Army against the Nazi stronghold in the city of Poznan, in occupied Poland. The battle ensued for almost an entire month as the Soviets painstakingly reduced the German fortified positions, using intense urban combat, leading to a final attack on the city's citadel by the Red Army. The city of Poznań (called Posen in German) lay in the western part of Poland which had been annexed by Nazi Germany following their invasion of Poland in 1939, and was the chief city of Reichsgau Wartheland. The Nazi defenders made use of some of the surviving Festung Posen (strongholds) 19-th century fortifications built during Prussian rule. The Fort Winiary citadel stood on a hill to the north of the city centre. Around the city perimeter were 18 massively-built forts, spaced at intervals of about 2 kilometres in a ring with a radius of about 5 kilometres. General Chuikov described the forts as follows: "....underground structures each with several stories, the whole projecting above the surrounding terrain. Only a mound was visible above ground -- the layer of earth covering the rest. Each fort was ringed by a ditch ten metres wide and eight metres deep, with walls revetted with brickwork. Across the ditch was a bridge, leading to one of the upper stories. Among the forts, to the rear, there were one-storey brick bunkers. These were clad in concrete almost a full metre thick, and were used as stores. The upper works of the forts were sufficiently strong to provide reliable protection against heavy artillery fire. . . . the enemy would be able to direct fire of all kinds against us both on the approaches to the forts and within them, on the rampart. The embrasures were such that flanking fire from rifles and machine-guns could be directed from them."


German Town Annihilated by British Bombers:  The largest attack during World War II was the bombing of the German city of Pforzheim. On the evening of February 23, 1945, RAF bombers carried out a raid with devastating consequences. About 17,600 people perished, almost a third of the towns population and about 83% of the buildings were completely destroyed. The Allies believed that the town was producing  precision instruments for use in the Wehrmacht, and that the town was a central hub of German transports. (In 1944  many of the towns factories had been converted to manufacturing weapons such as anti-aircraft shells, bomb fuses, and suspected to have made parts for the V1 and V2 rockets.)