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.



October 13, 2018

OCTOBER 13 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

OCTOBER 13

.1939

German submarine U-40 struck a mine and sank in the English Channel.   On October 13, 1939, the German submarine U-40 was sunk by a British mine at coordinates 50°41′6″N 00°15′1″E.   The U-boat commander Barten, made a fateful decision on that day to take a shortcut through the English Channel, heading towards the southwest of Ireland. But the English Channel was laid with many naval mines. Barten chose to proceed along the voyage about three and a half hours after high tide, when the mines were not at their lowest point.  The submarine struck one of them and sank to the sea floor. A few crew members were able to escape by the aft hatch and reach the surface. Of the crew, nine died in the attempt to save themselves and five more died from exposure.  Ten hours after the U-boat sank, the remaining survivors were rescued and taken prisoners aboard the British destroyer, the HMS Boreas.


1943

Italy Declared War on Germany:    On October 13, 1943, Italy declared war on its former Axis partner, Nazi Germany and joined the Allies in the battle to defeat the Germans.  The fascist government collapsed in July, with Mussolini toppled from power.  He was replaced by General Pietro Badoglio, Mussolini's former chief of staff.  Badoglio, responding to the request of King Victorio Emanuele, began to negotiate with US General Eisenhower for a conditional surrender of Italy to the Allies.  The Allies had already invaded Sicily in July, driving out the Nazi Germans, and opened up the Mediterranean sea lanes for the first time since 1941.  By September 8, the Allies landed in Salerno, on the mainland, in an operation code-named Operation Avalanche.  The American plan was to launch a surprise attack without previous bombardments, but the German troops were aware of their approach.  As the first allied contingent approached the shoreline, a loudspeaker announced, in English, " Come on in and give up. We have you covered."  Nevertheless, the Americans attacked, despite very heavy German fire power and artillery.  Landing was extremely difficult but the Americans succeeded in capturing the beach heads.


1944

Allied aircraft bombers targeted the city of Aachen,  which was perched on Germany's main defensive network (incorporated into the Siegried Line).  The Allied mission was to capture Aachen quickly so as to advance into the industrialized Ruhr region. The initial attack was launched by the 26th Infantry, which provided insight to the nature of the ongoing battle.  German troops were ambushing the Americans, from hiding places in sewers and cellars.  American troops had to cautiously clear each opening before attempting to advance on any street.  The Sherman tanks could not maneuver adequately amidst  enemy fire.  It was one of the largest battles fought by US forces in WW2,  and the first German city captured by the Allies.  Casualties were heavy on both sides; 5,000 Allied soldiers and about 5,000 Germans, with another 5,600 taken prisoner.




October 12, 2018

OCTOBER 12 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

OCTOBER 12

1939

In the British House of Commons, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain formally replied to Hitler's so-called peace offer by saying that a settlement "must be a real and settled peace, not an uneasy truce interrupted by constant alarms and repeated threats." Chamberlain further explained, "Herr Hitler rejected all suggestions for peace until he had overwhelmed Poland, as he had previously overthrown Czechoslovakia. Peace conditions cannot be acceptable which begin by condoning aggression. The proposals in the German Chancellor's speech are vague and uncertain and contain no suggestion for righting the wrongs done to Czechoslovakia and to Poland. Even if Herr Hitler's proposals were more closely defined and contained suggestions to right these wrongs, it would still be necessary to ask by what practical means the German Government intend to convince the world that aggression will cease and that pledges will be kept. Past experience has shown that no reliance can be placed upon the promises of the present German Government."


1941

Stanisławów Ghetto Bloody Sunday Massacre:  On October 12, 1941  thousands of Jewish prisoners were forced to gather at the Ringplatz market square for a "selection", upon the orders of Hans Krueger.  Nazi forces, supplemented by the Orpo Reserve Police Battalion 133 from Lemberg, and the Ukrainian police, forcibly marched the prisoners to the Jewish cemetery  where large open pits had already been dug. Along the way, the Ukrainian and German guards brutally beat and tortured the prisoners.  The Jews were forced to surrender their valuables, and were ordered to strip naked and proceed to the edge of the grave sites.  The killing squad opened fire, joined by units of the Nurnberg Order Police and the Bahschutz railroad police.  The victims either fell into the graves or were ordered to jump in before being killed. Between 10,000 and 12,000 Jewish men, women and children were murdered. The killing began at 12 noon and continued for many hours without ceasing.


1943

The Battle of Lenino was a tactical World War II engagement that took place between October 12 and October 13, 1943, north of the village of Lenino in the Mogilev region of Byelorussia. The battle was a segment of a much larger Soviet operation, whose objective was to clear the eastern bank of the Dnieper river of German forces, and thus break through the Panther-Wotan line of defences. Polish and Soviet forces succeeded in breaking through German defences but failed to maintain their advance due to lack of artillery support. They were ordered to hold their ground but relief never arrived. After two days  the Polish 1st Tadeusz Kościuszko Infantry Division had to withdraw its forces, having suffered 25% casualties. The Battle of Lenino is prominent in Polish military history, because it was one of the first major military operation of Polish Armed Forces in the East.



October 11, 2018

OCTOBER 11 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

OCTOBER 11

1779

Casimir Pulaski died on October 11, 1779. At the Battle of Savannah, while leading a daring charge against British forces, he was gravely wounded, and died shortly after. Pulaski's memory is honored around the world. He was a hero who fought for independence and freedom in both Poland and the United States. Numerous places and events are named in his honor, and he is commemorated by many works of art. Pulaski is one of only eight people to be awarded honorary United States citizenship. (see also March 6, 1745)  Benjamin Franklin was very impressed by Pulaski, and wrote of him: "Count Pulaski of Poland, an officer famous throughout Europe for his bravery and conduct in defence of the liberties of his country against the three great invading powers of Russia, Austria and Prussia ... may be highly useful to our service." Franklin recommended to General George Washington that Pulaski be accepted as a volunteer in the Continental Army cavalry.  He was impressed with Pulaski and noted that he "was renowned throughout Europe for the courage and bravery...displayed in defense of his country's freedom." Pulaski departed France from Nantes in June 1777 and about a month later arrived in Marblehead, Massachusetts, near Boston. Upon his arrival, Pulaski wrote a letter to Washington stating, "....I came here, where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it......"  In 2009 the United States Congress passed a joint resolution conferring honorary U.S. citizenship on Pulaski. It was sent to then- President Barack Obama for approval, which he duly signed on November 6, 2009.  This makes Casimir Pulaski the seventh person to receive such a honour.


1939

Alexander Sachs, a close friend of President Franklin Roosevelt, met with him to discuss a letter written by Albert Einstein, warning FDR of the dangers of nuclear bombs.  In the letter, written in August of that year,  Einstein informed Roosevelt of research on uranium and chain reaction of fission, which would make possible the construction of "extremely powerful bombs".  After some delay,  Roosevelt finally wrote back to Einstein on October 19, 1939, informing him that the US would set up a committee of civilian and military officials to study the matter.  Roosevelt did not want to risk the possibility that Hitler would be the sole nuclear power.  This was the first step by the US that led towards the founding of the Manhattan Project.


1969

General Kazimierz Sosnkowski died on October 11, 1969.   He was a Polish general, an outstanding commander, diplomat, and held a key place in Polish history.  When World War One broke out, Piłsudski formed the 1st Brigade of the Polish Legions, and appointed Sosnkowski as his Chief of Staff and second-in-command.  When Piłsudski instructed the Polish Legion to refuse to swear an oath of allegiance to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, Sosnkowski obeyed, and was subsequently arrested along with his commander and imprisoned in Magdeburg.  At the outbreak of World War Two, Sosnkowski was appointed commander of the Polish group of southern armies, and conducted several victorious battles. But the September 17 invasion by the Soviets made it impossible for Polish troops to continue the fight two enemies along all fronts.  Sosnkowski evacuated Poland, along with many of the Polish armed forces, and the Polish government.  Wearing a disguise, he was able to cross through Soviet occupied Polish territory and enter Hungary. From there he made his way to France.  Polish President-in-exile Władysław Raczkiewicz selected him as his successor, despite the wishes of General Władysław Sikorski.  Genral Sosnkowski was also appointed the Commander of the Union of Armed Struggle (ZWZ).  After the death of General Sikorski in July 1943, Sosnkowski was appointed Commander in Chief.  After Sosnkowski's death, he was buried in France, but in 1992 his ashes were returned to Poland and interred inside St. John'’s Cathedral in Warsaw.


October 10, 2018

OCTOBER 10 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

OCTOBER 10

1941

Wehrmacht forces attacked Moscow.  The Second and Third Panzer Groups of the German army converged at Vyazma on this day and encircled the environs of Moscow.  Four Soviet armies (the 19th, 20th, 24th and 32nd) were encircled in a large pocket just west of the city but continued to fight the Germans. The Wehrmacht had to dispatch 28 divisions in an effort to eliminate Soviet resistance. However, the use of these reinforcements seriously depleted the offensive towards Moscow.  Ultimately, the Germans failed in their objective to take Moscow. Hitler was so furious that he dismissed his commander-in-chief, Walther von Brauchitsch (on December 19, 1941). 


1944

MESSAGE TO PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT FROM MARSHAL STALIN AND PRIME MINISTER CHURCHILL (no.331)  "In an informal discussion we have taken a preliminary view of the situation as it affects us and have planned out the course of our meetings, social and others. We have invited Messrs Mikolajczyk, Romer and Grabski to come at once for further conversations with us and with the Polish National Committee.   We have agreed not to refer in our discussions to the Dumbarton Oaks issues, and that these shall be taken up when we three can meet together. We have to consider the best way of reaching an agreed policy about the Balkan countries, including Hungary and Turkey......." CHURCHILL  (and) STALIN  (October 10, 1944)


Gypsy Children Gassed to Death:   On October 10, 1944 the Nazi Germans systematically murdered 800 Gypsy children. - about a hundred children between the ages of nine and fourteen years old. Though Jews were singled out for extermination, the Gypsies were also targeted. The Nazi Germans considered the Gypsies as "carriers of disease" and "unreliable" to do any work.  During the war about 1.5 million Gypsies were murdered by the Nazis. Even after the end of World War Two, the Gypsies were disregarded when they tried to obtain compensation as victims of the Holocaust.  The German government denied them on the grounds that the Gypsies were not victimized because of their race, but that they were considered criminal elements.



October 9, 2018

OCTOBER 9 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

OCTOBER 9

1940

St. Paul's Cathedral Bombed:  On October 9, 1940 the German Luftwaffe targeted St. Paul's Cathedral in London in a bombing raid.  The first bombing attack targeted the high altar of the Cathedral, while the second bomb was dropped on the north transept, leaving a large gaping hole in the floor above the crypt.   The Luftwaffe attempted several attacks on St. Paul's Cathedral - September 12, 1940,  December 29, 1940, April 17, 1941.  Though the bombs caused great damage, the Cathedral survived intact, and the morale of the British people did not waver.  According to the writing of Lisa Jardine, "...Wreathed in billowing smoke, amidst the chaos and destruction of war, the pale dome stands proud and glorious—indomitable. At the height of that air-raid, Sir Winston Churchill telephoned the Guildhall to insist that all fire-fighting resources be directed at St Paul's. The cathedral must be saved, he said, damage to the fabric would sap the morale of the country."


1975

Sakharov won Nobel Peace Prize:    On October 9, 1975 Andrei Sakharov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  The Nobel Committee cited him as "a spokesman for the conscience of mankind.." and recognized Sakharov's dedication to advancing the cause of human rights as the basis for "genuine and enduring international cooperation."  The Soviet government refused to allow him to travel to Oslo to accept his award and in his stead, his wife Yelena Bonner attended the ceremony and read a speech on his behalf.  Sakharov wrote in his Nobel lecture, entitled "Peace, Progress, Human Rights", in which he called for an end to the arms race,  respect for human rights, protection of the environment, and in particular the establishment of real, formative international cooperation.  The Soviet Union considered Sakharov as a traitor and referred to him as   "Domestic Enemy Number One". Andrei Sakharov was a Russian nuclear physicist and became renowned for having designed the RDS-37, a code name for Soviet thermonuclear weapons. Since the 1950s, he became very worried about the moral and environmental implications of nuclear warfare and became an activist against nuclear proliferation.  A key turning point in his political activism came in 1967, when the topic of anti-ballistic missile defense became a focal point in US–Soviet relations.  He dispatched a secret letter to the Soviet leadership  detailing the global consequences of a nuclear war, pleading that they need to "take the Americans at their word" and accept their proposal for a "bilateral rejection .... of the development of anti-ballistic missile defense".  Moreover he requested permission to publish his manuscript supporting his views. The Soviet leadership ignored his letter, denied his proposal from being published in the Soviet press,and prevented him from initiating a public discussion of ABMs.


2005

Presidential Election in Poland:  The elections were held on October 9 and October 23, 2005 when Lech Kaczynski defeated his rival Donald Tusk.  Aleksander Kwaśniewski, had served two five-year presidential terms but was not able to run for a third term.  The two candidates, both center-right on the political spectrum, led the poll in the first round, as was expected.  But since neither received 50 percent of the vote, a second round of voting was held on October 23 at which Kaczyński received 54.04 percent of the vote.  One of the biggest controversies of the election was the legacy of Józef Tusk, the grandfather of  Donald Tusk.  The record shows that Jozef Tusk was embroiled in the "Wehrmacht affair" before being drafted into the German army in the latter stages of World War II.   Even in modern Poland, having had a family member serving in the German army is severely criticized.



October 8, 2018

OCTOBER 8 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

OCTOBER 8

1918

Greatest Soldier of World War I:   On October 8, 1918,  Alvin C. York, US Corporal was reported to have killed over 20 German soldiers and captured an additional 132.   York took over the head position of his small battalion, fighting in the Argonne Forest in France. When the Germans fired on his unit, several troops were killed including a superior officer.  Several other soldiers in York's unit began firing while advancing toward the German line.  Apparently the Germans thought they were surrounded and about ninety of them surrendered to the Americans.  On the way back to his unit, York took additional German prisoners bringing the total up to 131.   Yorks military exploits and bravery later earned him the United States Congressional Medal of Honor.


1939

Annexation of Poland:  By Hitler's decree, the Western provinces of Poland, with a population of 10 million and an area of 91 000 km2 together with the cities of Poznań, Gdynia, Toruń, Bydgoszcz, Łódź and Katowice were incorporated into the Third Reich. The remaining territory was placed under Nazi German administration, of about the same same size and inhabited by about 11.5 million Poles. It was referred to as the General Government and was governed by Hans Frank.  The eastern part of Poland was invaded and occupied by the Soviets according to the Soviet-German treaty, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Agreement. Despite the diverse ethnic groups in eastern Poland, the ethnic Poles represented the largest proportion of the population.


Danzig was officially annexed by Nazi Germany and was made the capital of Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia.  It was divided into three government regions with the name-giving capital cities of Bromberg, Danzig and Marienwerde.   After a brief transitional period, the territory became part of the restored Regierungsbezirk Danzig in the Reichsgau Danzig-Westpreussen (the restored Prussian Province of West Prussia) and was divided into nine districts. Prior to the Invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, it was deemed the Free City of Danzig, as stipulated by the Treaty of Versailles (1919) at the end of World War I.   The Free City of Danzig was under the protection of the League of Nations, and incorporated into a binding customs union with the newly emerged Republic of Poland.  The League of Nations gave Poland full rights to develop and maintain transportation, communication, and port facilities in the city, providing Poland with open access to a well-sized seaport.  The Free City of Danzig consisted of a majority of German citizens, though it had a very large Polish population as well. Even so, Germans bitterly resented being separated from Germany, and believed it to be their ancestral home.  Tensions escalated when the Nazi Party seized power in 1935.


German submarine U-12 struck a mine in the Strait of Dover.  There were no survivors.  The body of the the submarine captain, Dietrich von der Ropp, was found washed ashore on the French coast near Dunkirk on October 29, 1939.  The exact co-ordinates of the U-12 is not known, but has been approximated at 51°10′N 01°30′E.   In 2002,  the German government named the wreck to be recognized as a protected place under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.  The U-12 was thus designated as being representative of all such German vessels lost within UK jurisdiction during the war.


1941

Surprise German Attack:  On October 8, 1941, German troops launched a surprise attack on Mariupol near the Sea of Azov.  Despite the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact signed between the Soviets and Germany, Hitler decided to attack Russian territory (suspecting that Churchill might be striking a secret deal with the Soviets).  On the first day  German forces were able to demoralize the Soviet army  and destroy more than 1,000 Soviet aircraft.  Despite numerical superiority and number of tanks and armaments,  the Red Army was disorganized and easily defeated. The Germans easily advanced 300 miles into Soviet territory.  Mariupol is the 10th largest city in the Ukraine. In the city's history, it has played a central role in the industrialization of the Ukraine, and has been a centre for the grain trade, metallurgy, and heavy engineering, including the steel and iron works.


1942

Polish Underground Fighters Sabotage Railways:   On the night of October 7 and 8, 1942, the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa) undertook a large-scale anti-Nazi operation called Operation Wieniec, or Operation Garland.  The Polish underground targeted the rail infrastructure near Warsaw, and other major cities. The sabotage tactics continued throughout the war, targeting railroads, bridges and supply depots.  There were also substantial successes in assassinations of key Nazi German officials.  The Germans, in reprisal, would publicly hang, or shoot large numbers of Polish citizens. The Polish Underground was the largest anti-Nazi organization in all of Europe. (see Operation Heads)


1982

Polish Communists banned Solidarity and all labor unions.   On October 8, 1982 the communist led Polish government outlawed Solidarnosc (Solidarity). Solidarity was founded by Lech Walesa on September 17, 1980 at the Lenin Shipyards, and was the first non-government trade labor union in communist controlled countries.  Solidarity was committed to advancing the rights of workers as well as social democratic change through the use of civil resistance.  Despite the imposition of marshal law in 1981, and subsequent years of political repression, and economic crisis,  the government could not quash the Solidarity movement, and ultimately were compelled to negotiate.  (read about Round Table Talks). Pope Saint John Paul II and the United States provided massive financial support to Solidarnosc, to the tune of 50 million US dollars.


2000

Presidential Election in Poland:   The 2000 Polish presidential election took place in Poland on October 8, 2000. Incumbent President Aleksander Kwaśniewski was easily re-elected in the first round after winning more than 50% of the votes. Polls showed that his popular support was as high as 70%.  His main opponent was Marian Krzaklewski from the Solidarity Electoral Action, and former Foreign Minister Andrzej Olechowski, who garnered support from voters who were discontented with both of the other main candidates and in particular younger voters, businessmen and intellectuals.   Candidates who had less chance were Andrzej Lepper, a populist farmers leader who opposed entry into the European Union, and former President Lech Wałęsa.  Wałęsa was rejected as the candidate for the Solidarity party, and ran separetely in the election.  Just months preceding the election the candidates Kwaśniewski and  Lech Wałęsa were investigated by a court due to accusations that they had been informers for the Communist secret police, but the charges were dismissed.  The allegations were an attempt by their political opponents  to discredit them in the eyes of the public.  Ironically,  Kwaśniewski was a political activist for the communist party.


October 7, 2018

OCTOBER 7 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

OCTOBER

1918

Polish Independence:  On October 7, 1918, the Regency Council of the Kingdom of Poland)  declared the independence of Poland. The Council was the highest authority in the Partitioned Poland during World War I,  and was formed by Imperial Germany and Austria-Hungary on historically Polish land around September 1917.  The Council was a semi-independent high-ranking governmental body which was intended to maintain its office until a new monarch or the Regent would be appointed.   Also in October 1918 the Council took over the command of the Polska Siła Zbrojna, which was part of the German army and under complete German command. It was merely the military branch of a puppet Kingdom of Poland envisioned by the Prussian Mitteleuropa Plan.  It was created in direct response to Piłsudski's refusal to swear an oath of allegiance to Germany. (The German efforts to recruit Polish soldiers to the unit were a complete failure.)


1944

Auschwitz Uprising:  At least 802 prisoners in Auschwitz-Birkenau camp attempted to escape, but only 144 made it out. The Nazis hunted them down one by one and shot them on the spot  Also on October 7, 1944, two Sonderkommando units launched an uprising however it failed.  Sonderkommandos were work units consisting of camp worker-prisoners of the Nazi death camps. They were mostly Jews who were under constant threat of death unless they obeyed the Nazi German directives to undertake the disposal of gas chamber victims during the Holocaust.  The Sonderkommandos were always prisoners, and not the same as the SS-Sonderkommandos, the latter which were units formed from various of Nazi Germans ranks


2017

Polish Catholics Gathered Along 2,000 mile border to pray for the Salvation of Poland and of the World.  It was called "Rosary at the Border" in which countless Polish Catholics from 320 parish Polish churches rallied at over 4,000 prayer zones along the Polish-Czech border.  Millions of Poles took part in the prayer vigil.  According to Reverend Rytel-Andrianik, spokesman of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, the Rosary at the Border could very well be the second-largest prayer event in Europe - after the 2016 World Youth Day.  The Rosary at the Border, also commemorated the Battle of Lepanto, a naval battle in 1571 between Christian fighters, under orders from the Pope, and the Ottoman Empire. (Editors note:  In 1683 the Polish-Lithuanian Empire, allied with Habsburg Monarchy, and the Holy Roman Empire, under the command of Polish King John Sobieski III, battled and won against the Ottoman Turks, in the famous Battle of Vienna.  It marked a turning point in history,  after which the Ottoman's cease to remain a threat to European Christendom) Many Polish citizens today are fearful that the current influx of Islam refugees represents yet another threat to Poland, to Europe, and to Christianity.  In an article from the New York Times, Mr. Januszewski  was quoted as saying that, "in the past there were raids by sultans and Turks and people of other faiths against us Christians" and that, "Today, Islam is flooding us, and we are afraid of this, too. We are afraid of terrorist threats and we are afraid of people departing from the faith.” (article of Polish Catholics Gather at Border for Vast Rosary Prayer Event, written by Joanna Berendt, and Megan Specia on October 7, 2017 NY Times)


October 6, 2018

OCTOBER 6 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

OCTOBER 6

1852

Bruno Abdank-Abakanowicz (dob) was a Polish mathematician, inventor, and electrical engineer.  He invented the integraph, a form of the integrator which was patented in 1880, later produced by the Swiss firm Coradi. Other patents were the parabolagraph, the spirograph, the electric bell used in trains, and an electric arc lamp of his own design.  The French government hired him to be the main engineer behind the electrification of the city of Lyon, among other places. His patents allowed him to become a very wealthy man, and he was granted the Legion d'Honneur in 1889. His daughter Zofia, who graduated from the London School of Business, and the Sorbonne, was arrested and deported during World War II, and died in Auschwitz.


1938

Italian Racial Laws:  The  decision to enact the law was finalized during a meeting of the Gran Consiglio del Fascismo, which convened October 6 to 7, 1938 in Rome, at Palazzo Venezia.  Not all Fascists supported discrimination: while the pro-German, anti-Jewish Roberto Farinacci and Giovanni Preziosi strongly pushed for them.  Italo Balbo strongly opposed the laws. The Italian racial laws prohibited Jews from having any professional profession and prohibited sexual relations and marriages between Italians and Jews and Africans.


1939

On October 6, 1939, German and Soviets annexed Poland, according to the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union. It was signed on August 23, 1939 and contained a secret protocol for the joint invasion and partition of Polish territory. (Germany invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939 from the north, west and south.  On September 17, 1939, Soviet troops invaded Poland from the east. )  (Editors note: Please refer to my blog archives for the special series called, "September 1939: Invasion of Poland" for day by day account of events during the invasion).


Hitler addressed a special session of the Reichstag during which he spoke at great length of Nazi Germany's victory over Poland, and then brazenly extended an offer of peace.  His roughly 80 minutes of oratory was strewn with lies. He expounded on the "good relations" with Britain and France,  as a basis for establishing "peace", but in the same breath, threatened them with an ultimatum, otherwise,  "...this statement would have been my last...." Britain and France refused to take these overtures seriously, and consequently, the Phoney War continued for the next several months.


October 5, 2018

OCTOBER 5 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

OCTOBER 5

1937

The Rector of Warsaw Polytechnic ordered the establishment of the institution of Ghetto Benches in the lecture halls. The practice began in 1935 and became widespread by 1937. Jewish students attending Polish universities were forced, under threat of expulsion, to sit at the left-hand side section of the lecture halls which were segregated from the rest of the student body. The majority of Jewish students protested these policies and refused to comply as it violated their civil rights. Some Polish students showed their support of their Jewish classmates by standing in class instead of sitting down.  At some universities, Polish students even attempted to forcibly move Jews to the ghetto benches.


1942

Witness to Mass Executions:  Herman Friedrich Graebe, a German engineer,  provided vital testimony during the Einsatzgruppen Trial, (one of the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials).  By doing so, Graebe incurred bitter persecution from many of his German compatriots, so much so that he left Germany in 1948, and settled in San Francisco with his family. Hermann Graebe was honoured as a 'Righteous Among the Nations' by Yad Vashem.  (Axel von dem Bussche, a German officer was another witness of the mass executions of October 1942 in Dubno. He was so traumatised by what he had seen, that in 1943, he joined Claus von Stauffenberg and tried to kill Adolf Hitler in a suicide attack in November 1943.)  The following is an excerpt of Graebe's testimony: "...... I walked around the mound and found myself confronted by a tremendous grave. People were closely wedged together and lying on top of each other so that only their heads were visible. Nearly all had blood running over their shoulders from their heads. Some of the people shot were still moving. Some were lifting their arms and turning their heads to show that they were still alive. The pit was nearly two-thirds full. I estimated that it already contained about a thousand people. I looked for the man who did the shooting. He was an SS man, who sat at the edge of the narrow end of the pit, his feet dangling into the pit. He had a tommy-gun on his knees and was smoking a cigarette. The people, completely naked, went down some steps which were cut in the clay wall of the pit and clambered over the heads of the people lying there to the place to which the SS man directed them. They lay down in front of the dead or wounded people; some caressed those who were still alive and spoke to them in a low voice. Then I heard a series of shots. I looked into the pit and saw that the bodies were twitching or the heads lying already motionless on top of the bodies that lay beneath them. Blood was running from their necks. The next batch was approaching already. They went down into the pit, lined themselves up against the previous victims and were shot."


1944

Polish General Stanislaw Sosabowski received a letter from Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, commander of the Anglo-Canadian 21st Army Group, in which he described the Polish soldiers as having fought bravely in the Battle of Market Garden, and offered meritorious awards to ten of his soldiers. However, on October 14, 1944, Montgomery wrote another letter, this time to the British commanders, in which he scapegoated General Sosabowski for the failure of Market Garden. Sosabowski was accused of criticizing Montgomery, and the Polish General Staff was forced to remove him as the commanding officer of his brigade on December 27, 1944.


October 4, 2018

OCTOBER 4 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

OCTOBER 4

1939

In Wilno, the NKVD incarcerated Colonel Zygmunt Berling. The NKVD was the notorious Soviet secret police organization that operated  from 1934 to 1946. It was infamous for its role in political repression, torture, murders, massacres. They carried out the Great Purge in 1936 under Stalin's command. Berling was a Polish general and politician. He fought for the independence of Poland in the early 20th century. During WW2 he was sentenced to death in absentia for desertion from the Polish Army of General Władysław Anders. The verdict was overruled by the Polish government-in-exile. Later, he became the commander of the 1st Polish Army, part of the Polish Army in the USSR, and played an important role in the post-war Polish government.


1943

Himmler Speech in Posen.  The following is an excerpt of one of Himmlers speeches regarding the Jewish Question. "….. I also want to mention a very difficult subject before you here, completely openly. It should be discussed amongst us, and yet, nevertheless, we will never speak about it in public. Just as we did not hesitate on June 30 to carry out our duty, as ordered, and stand comrades who had failed against the wall and shoot them. That was, thank God, a kind of tact natural to us, a foregone conclusion of that tact, that we have never conversed about it amongst ourselves, never spoken about it, everyone shuddered, and everyone was clear that the next time, he would do the same thing again, if it were commanded and necessary.  I am talking about the "Jewish evacuation": the extermination of the Jewish people. It is one of those things that is easily said. "The Jewish people is being exterminated," every Party member will tell you, "perfectly clear, it's part of our plans, we're eliminating the Jews..... We have the moral right, we had the duty to our people to do it, to kill this people who wanted to kill us..... We have carried out this most difficult task for the love of our people...."


1944

Operation Nordlicht ("Northern Light") was a Nazi German operation which began on October 4, 1944.   After Finland had made peace with the USSR, the German command ordered its troops to fall back to defense lines across Finnish Lapland (Operation Birke). In Operation Nordlicht, the Germans did not merely evacuate the area, but used scorched earth tactics as they retreated, destroyed almost all the buildings and boats in Finnmark, leaving nothing to the enemy.  The Germans used the same tactics in Finnish Lapland.  This operation ended on January 30, 1945. 


October 3, 2018

OCTOBER 3 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

OCTOBER 3

1882

Karol Maciej Szymanowski (dob)  was the most famous and most celebrated Polish composer of the early 20th century.  Szymanowki was a member of the late 19th to early 20th-century modernist movement Young Poland.  His early compositions were influenced by the late Romantic German school as well as the early works of Alexander Scriabin, as can be discerned by the Étude Op. 4 No. 3 and his first two symphonies. His work developed an impressionistic and partially atonal style, represented by the Third Symphony and his Violin Concerto No. 1.  In his third period of work, he was influenced by the folk music of the Polish Górale people, including the ballet Harnasie, the Fourth Symphony, and his sets of Mazurkas for piano.  His most popular opera was King Roger, composed between 1918-1924.  Karol Szymanowski was awarded the highest Polish national honors, which included the Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and other distinctions, as well as numerous international honours.


1940

The Vichy government under Petain, in collaboration with Nazi Germany, passed the first set of anti-Jewish laws called the Statut des Juifs ("statute on Jews") to resolve the so-called Jewish question France and its territories. The Statut made slight modifications to the term of the law,  adopted the Nazi definition of a Jew, as had been established in the German Nuremberg Laws. Jews in France were deprived of their civil rights, fired from their jobs, and forbidden to work in professions, such as teachers, journalists, lawyers. (see June 2, 1941) Jews were also excluded from the army,  commercial and industrial activities, and the civil service.   On October 4, 1940, another law on "Aliens of Jewish Race" was promulgated simultaneously with the Jewish status laws; it decreed the immediate internment of foreign Jews.  According to the law, 40,000 Jews were interned in various camps in the Zone libre, the Southern Zone: Nexon, Agde, Gurs, Noé, Récébédou (fr), Rivesaltes, and Le Vernet.


1942

Successful Rocket Launch:  Nazi Germany made the first successful test flight of its V-2 rocket on October 3, 1942 - it reached an altitude of 84.5 kilometres (52.5 miles). On 22 Dec. 1942, Hitler signed the order for mass production to begin. A production line was at the ready at the Peenemunde Army Research Center (Germany) when the British RAF launched an massive attack against the Peenemunde on August 17-18, 1943, code named Operation Hydra. The Germans moved production to the underground Mittelwerk in the Kohnstein where 5,200 V-2 rockets were constructed using slave-labor from the concentration camps. The V-2 (or Aggregat 4 (A4) was the world's first long-range guided ballistic missile, and was superior to the previous (V-1) version, as it travelled faster than the speed of sound. Nazi Germany launched over 1,500 V-2 rockets against London, killing over 7,500 citizens, and devastating the city, as well as many other coastal cities and towns in Britain.


1944

Many Polish insurgents, including soldiers of  Armia Krajowa (Polish Home Army ) were arrested by the notorious Soviet NKVD or UB political police and interrogated and imprisoned on various trumped up charges - among which included false accusations that the Poles were "collaborating" with the Nazis, that the Poles were "enemies of the Soviet state" etc.  The Polish Underground never collaborated with Nazi Germany, and had fought against the occupiers from the first day of the war to the very end.  The Soviets arrested vast numbers of Poles and imprisoned them in the gulags, many others were executed.  Between 1944 and 1956, all the fighters of  Battalion Zośka, among many other Polish fighters,had been incarcerated in Soviet prisons and falsely accused of numerous so-called "crimes". (See also March  28, 1945, Trial of the 16) (Editors note:  In Norman Davies' book, "Europe at War", he writes that it was "obscene" that there was no official protest from any of the Allied countries.)



October 2, 2018

OCTOBER 2 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

OCTOBER 2

1938

Polish troops of the Independent Operational Group Silesia carried out the annexation of  Zaolzie, Czechoslovakia ( from October 2 to 11, 1938.)  The Group was established after the Munich Agreement, signed on September 30, 1938, in which the Allies acquiesed to Hitler's demand for the annexation of the Sudetenland.  The Czechoslovakian government finally yielded to pressure from the Polish government.  The Operational Group was established in September of 1938, numbering over 35,000 Polish officers and soldiers, among several army units and five squadrons, under the command of General Władysław Bortnowski.  The Group was disbanded in December of the same year. The Zaolzie region was created in 1920, when Cieszyn Silesia was divided between Czechoslovakia and Poland, in an attempt to resolve their border dispute.  Zaolzie formed the eastern part of the Czech portion of Cieszyn Silesia.  Despite this division, the conflicts persisted until annexation.  But after the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, the area was incorporated into Nazi German control.  After the war ended, the 1920 borders were restored.


1939

The Battle of Kock was the final battle during the Invasion of Poland. The battle was fought near the town of Kock lasted until October 5, 1939 between the Polish Polesie Independent Operational Group, under the command of Polish General Franciszek Kleeberg, and the German 14th Motorised Corps, under the command of General Gustav Anton von Wietersheim.  On October 2, the German commanders were of the opinion that the Polish forces were incapable of combat because they became demoralized by Warsaw's capitulation.  They expected an easy victory. At 08:00 hours, the German infantry came under fire from the Polish guard platoon of No. 2 company of the 'Wilk' battalion.  After a lengthy exchange of fire and counterattacks, the German troops finally had to withdraw.  This gave the Polish 179th Infantry Regiment the time to move to defensive positions near and in Kock. By around 11:00 the German forces launched another attack on Polish positions, which had been strengthened by the addition of another battalion. But even with supporting artillery fire, the German attack failed again. Again, at dusk German motorcyclists advanced towards the church in Kock and began firing, but when the Poles returned fire, the Germans again withdrew. Polish fighters posed an insurmountable resistance in the ensuing days, but fate dealt a turn on October 5th. The final German assault succeeded when they were linked with another German artillery battery, and forced the Polish troops to withdraw. At 10:00 hours on October 6, 1939, Polish General Kleeberg ordered the Polesie Independent Group to surrender.  General Kleeberg wrote that the reason for his decision to capitulate was that they were surrounded by the Germans, and could no longer continue the fight as ammunition and food had been depleted.


The Battle of Hel ended on October 2, 1939 when Polish forces capitulated.  From September 9, 1939,  about  2,800  Polish soldiers of the Fortified Region Hel unit, and part of the Coastal Defence Group, fought overwhelming German forces.  Polish forces included three coastal anti-ship batteries consisting of one  4 × 152 mm battery, two older 2 × 105 mm batteries and three batteries with 8 × 75 mm guns in total.  The Poles also had anti-air batteries consisting of  6 × 75 mm and 8 × 40 mm guns, and two 120 cm searchlights. In total they had 46 guns, 1 destroyer, 1 minelayer, and 1 patrol boat.  Facing them were about 38,000 German forces, 2 pre-dreadnoughts, and 2 destroyers.  Despite the overwhelming numbers of the enemy, Polish forces launched counterattacks relentlessly.  On September 3, the Polish destroyer Wicher, and minelayer Gryf succeeded in damaging two German destroyers by gunfire. But the Luftwaffe attacked and sank both Polish ships.  By September 14, the Germans had cut off Polish forces from the mainland.  Polish defences managed to stall the German advance only temporarily.  With reinforcements of  land artillery batteries and an armored train battery, the Germans continued their advance, albeit slowly, amid fierce counterattacks from Polish forces.  On September 25, after the Germans captured the village of Chałupy, Polish military engineers detonated a number of torpedoes in the narrowest part of the peninsula.   By October 1, the Polish forces were running out of supplies, and stranded without any relief forces, were under orders by Jozef Unrug, the commander of the Polish Navy, to capitulate.


1941

The Battle of Moscow, code-named Operation Typhoon, began on October 2, 1941, as German troops attempted to advance towards Moscow using a two pincer offensive; one strategically placed to the north of the city by the 3rd and 4th Panzer Armies,severing the Moscow–Leningrad railway; and another to the south of Moscow by the 2nd Panzer Army, while the 4th Army advanced directly towards Moscow from the west.  In the initial phase of the battle, the Soviet forces maintained a strategic defence of Moscow by establishing three defensive zones, as well as deploying reserve armies and bringing troops in from other military districts.  Having succeeded at halting the German offensives, the Soviets began their counter-offensive, which forced the German forces back to positions around the cities of Oryol, Vyazma and Vitebsk, which resulted in nearly surrounded three German armies. The battle ended on January 7, 1942.  Hitler's vision of capturing Moscow was a complete failure, and signaled the end of the German adventure in the USSR.  This defeat made Hitler so bitter that he fired Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch as commander of OKH,  and appointed himself as Germany's supreme military commander.


1943

Germans executed Polish citizens:   In Warsaw, on October 2, 1943, the Nazi Germans distributed an announcement of the execution of 100 Polish hostages as revenge against Armia Krajowa (Polish Home Army) for the assassination of five German policemen and 1 SS-man.  The Nazis took hostages, arresting Polish people by the thousands from the time of the invasion and throughout the occupation of Poland.  Many of the hostages were the intelligentsia, that is, prominent citizens such as doctors, lawyers, profesors, priests, and leaders of political, social and economic organizations, and trade unions.  Mostly the Germans chose them at random.  For every German killed, between 50 and 100 Polish civilians were executed.  The Germans would target rural communities who were suspected of aiding the resistance, or hiding Jews, and "other fugitives".  In one case they rounded up about 20,000 villagers, some of whom were burned alive.  Poland was the only country in Nazi-occupied Europe where anybody helping the Jews would be condemned to death.  Despite these Nazi German threats, many Polish people continued to help the Jews, and the Polish Underground continued their plans to assassinate Nazi officers as well as sabotage their supplies and rail transports. 


1944

Warsaw Surrendered:  After 63 days of fierce fighting, General Bor-Komorowski surrendered to the Germans on the condition that the Home Army (Armia Krajowa, or AK) fighters would be treated as prisoners of war. The Nazi Germans agreed and took them as POWs. The Warsaw Uprising ended with heavy losses -  225,000 civilians and 20,000 Home Army soldiers were killed. Hitler ordered Warsaw razed without leaving a trace, turning Warsaw into a smouldering necropolis.


Warsaw Uprising: Polish Fighters Surrendered their Weapons on October 2, 1944. The next day the Germans began to disarm the Home Army soldiers. They later sent 15,000 of them to POW camps in various parts of Germany. Meanwhile, about 5,000 to 6,000 Polish resistance fighters tried to blend into the civilian population hoping to continue the fight later. The entire civilian population of Warsaw was expelled from the city and sent to a transit camp Durchgangslager 121 in Pruszków. Out of 350,000–550,000 civilians who passed through the camp, 90,000 were sent to forced labour camps in the Third Reich, 60,000 were transported to death and concentration camps (including at Ravensbrück, Auschwitz, and Mauthausen, among others), while the rest were transported to various locations in the General Government. Polish casualties were 15,200 killed and missing,  5,000 WIA, and 15,000 POWs.  German casualties were 16,000 killed and missing, 9,000 WIA,  310 tanks and armoured vehicles, 340 trucks and cars,  22 artillery pieces, 4 rocket launchers, and 3 aircraft.


1979

Pope's Speech at the United Nations: The following is an except of Pope John Paul II's speech to the United Nations General Assembly on October 2, 1979:  "….. Today, forty years after the outbreak of the Second World War, I wish to recall the whole of the experiences by individuals and nations that were sustained by a generation that is largely still alive. I had occasion not long ago to reflect again on some of those experiences, in one of the places that are most distressing and overflowing with contempt for man and his fundamental rights—the extermination camp of Oświęcim (Auschwitz), which I visited during my pilgrimage to Poland last June. This infamous place is unfortunately only one of the many scattered over the continent of Europe. But the memory of even one should be a warning sign on the path of humanity today, in order that every kind of concentration camp anywhere on earth may once and for all be done away with. And everything that recalls those horrible experiences should also disappear for ever from the lives of nations and States, everything that is a continuation of those experiences under different forms, namely the various kinds of torture and oppression, either physical or moral, carried out under any system, in any land; this phenomenon is all the more distressing if it occurs under the pretext of internal "security" or the need to preserve an apparent peace......."



October 1, 2018

OCTOBER 1 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

OCTOBER 1

1938

At 11:45 am on October 1st, the Czechoslovak foreign ministry called the Polish ambassador in Prague and agreed to Polish demands. The Polish Army, under the command of General Władysław Bortnowski, annexed an area of 801.5 km² with a population of 227,399 people. Poland occupied some northern parts of Slovakia and received  Zaolzie, as well as territories around Suchá Hora and Hladovka, Javorina, Lesnica, Skalité, and other very small border regions.  Meanwhile, Nazi Germany annexed Czechoslovakia into the Third Reich.  In an effort to spread the blame, the Nazi German propaganda machine accused Poland of being accomplices. (Editors note:  However, despite the appearance of collusion, Poland never collaborated with Nazi Germany.  Poland was the fourth largest ally in the war effort against the Nazis,  and the Polish armed forces had fought relentlessly against the Nazi Germans throughout the war.)

1939

The Battle of Wytyczno was fought between the forces of the Polish Border Defence Corps under the command of Gen. Wilhelm Orlik-Rückemann and the Soviet Red Army during the invasion of Poland.  Following the Battle of Szack on September 28, the Polish forces had crossed the River Bug.  On October 1 at 1:00 am a tank unit of the Soviet 45th Rifle Division attacked the Polish troops.  The Poles counterattacked with Bofors 37 mm guns firing at close range. The Soviets withdrew, having lost four of their T-26 tanks. But by daybreak, the Soviets returned with the majority of their units, and launched a frontal assault on the village of Wytyczno. But despite Soviet reinforcements, the Polish tabors placed artillery posts in the forest behind the village, by which they could hold onto their positions.   The battle resulted in Soviet casualties of 80 killed and 102 wounded, and Polish casualties of 200 killed and 467 wounded. At  9:00 am Polish artillery had no more than 60 shells remaining, and the howitzers had not more than 10 per barrel.  The situation was every more bleak as the Polish soldiers were weak and exhausted and unable to launch yet another attack.  Col. Nikoderm Sulik,  Commander of the Sarny Regiment, reported that the owing to the state of Polish defences, that the battle would end in a Polish defeat.  At 10.30 the Polish war council decided that the only option for his men to survive was to withdraw, divide the unit into smaller detachments and try to break through to the units of Independent Operational Group Polesie fighting nearby. At noon the Polish units were able to withdraw to the forests. Most of them joined the other Polish units.


1979

Pope John Paul II First Visit to the United States:  Pope John Paul II arrived in the U.S. launching a seven day pilgrimage that was unprecedented in history.  JP2 was the second Pope to visit the United States and met with President Carter. (The first Pope to visit the U.S. was Pope Paul VI, in October 1965 who met with President Johnson.)   The Pope's arrival was met with the kind of fanfare expected of a travelling rock star.  In fact, Time Magazine marked the occasion with a special issue of his visit, the cover which read, "John Paul Superstar".  Pope John Paul II visited six cities (Boston, New York, (and spoke at the United Nations),Philadelphia, Chicago, Des Moines, Washington)  and attracted throngs of Americans everywhere he went. In fact when he spoke at Madison Square Gardens, it was packed to overflowing. President Jimmy Carter welcomed him and spoke to him in the Polish language.




September 30, 2018

SEPTEMBER 30 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 30

1938

The Munich Agreement was signed in the early hours of September 30, 1938 by Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain, and Daladier.  The leaders of Britain, France and Italy essentially agreed to permit Hitler to annex the Sudetenland (a portion of Czechoslovakia) on the condition that Hitler would not pursue further annexations. On the same day, Chamberlain returned to England, his plane landing at the Heston Aerodrome. And with smiles on his face he gave this speech.  The following is an excerpt from an archival video:   ".... The settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, only this time he has told me that it is his intention to come halfway to meet me (he paused and smiled, as the crowd cheered and applauded)....(he waved a piece of paper triumphantly, smiling, then continued) "....some of you perhaps have already heard what it contains, but I would just like to read it to you....We regard the Agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German naval agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again...." (The speech was followed by roar of enthusiastic cheers from the crowd and more applause.) However, not all British welcomed this agreement.  On the same day about 15,000 gathered in Trafalgar Square to protest the agreement (consisting of three times more than the crowds who welcomed Chamberlain at 10 Downing Street.) But the world did not know this because Chamberlain censored the BBC so that the protest was not reported nor televised.  On March 15, 1939, the Germans invaded and occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia, and on September 1, 1939 invaded Poland, starting World War II.


Polish Ultimatum:  At noon on September 30, 1938 Poland issued an ultimatum to the Czechoslovak government, which demanded the immediate evacuation of Czechoslovak troops, and gave them a deadline of noon the next day.  At issue was an important railway junction city of Bohumín, which Nazi Germany originally demanded from Czechoslovakia.  Polish Colonel Józef Beck assessed that Warsaw would have to take quick action to forestall the German occupation.  At precisely 11:45 a.m. on October 1st,  the Czechoslovak foreign ministry contacted the Polish ambassador in Prague and agreed to the demands.  An area of 801.5 km² with a population of 227,399 people was annexed by the Polish Army under the command of General Władysław Bortnowski.  Germany was delighted with the outcome as it provided fodder for their propaganda machine. The Nazis quickly took the opportunity to  accuse Poland falsely of being accomplices in the partition of Czechoslovakia, in order to confuse the allies, and place the blame of hostilities on Poland.  (note: Poland never collaborated with the Nazi regime and fought against them throughout World War Two.)


1939

The Polish Underground State (1939-1945), also known as the Polish Secret State,  was a collective term for the underground resistance organizations in Poland -  both military and civilian, that were loyal to the Government of the Republic of Poland in exile in London.  The Underground State was established during the final days of the German invasion of Poland. The Secret State was a legal continuation of the Republic of Poland (and all its institutions) that existed before the war. Its objectives were to wage an armed struggle against Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, as well as administer to civilian matters such as courts of law, education, culture and social services.  The Polish Underground had created the largest underground State in the world. The military sector consisted primarily of various branches of the Armia Krajowa (AK) and, until 1942, the Union of Armed Struggle. Their objective was to prepare all Poles for a future fight to liberate their country.  Their major activities dealt with underground armed resistance, sabotage, intelligence, training, and propaganda.  Polish intelligence operatives supplied valuable intelligence information to the Allies; 43 percent of all reports received by British secret services from continental Europe in 1939–45 came from Polish sources.  The total number of members of Armia Krajowa reached over 400,000, and was recognized as the largest resistance movement during the war.


1944

Warsaw Uprising ended. Polish insurgents were taken prisoners by the Germans and evacuated to POW camps. The next day German troops marched into Warsaw.  After the remaining civilians were found and taken out of the city, the Germans began a systematic destruction of the city of Warsaw, block by block. They used explosives, bombs, and flamethrowers to demolish every house, and every building.  Among the city structures destroyed was an estimated number of 10,455 buildings, 923 historical buildings (94%), 25 churches, 14 libraries including the National Library, the Polish national archives, 81 primary schools, 64 high schools, University of Warsaw and Warsaw University of Technology, and most of the historical monuments. (Note: By January 1945, 85% of Warsaw was razed to the ground (25% as a result of the Uprising; 35% as a result of German actions during the Uprising, and the remainder due to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the September 1939 Campaign.)  About a million Polish civilians lost all their worldly goods. It is impossible to assess the exact value of the loss of private and public property, as well as loss of priceless works of art, historical monuments, cultural and scientific artifacts, but it was estimated to be about $30 Billion U.S. Dollars (at 1940 evaluation). In 2005 a reassessment was made that the loss had an estimated valued at $54.6 Billion.


September 29, 2018

SEPTEMBER 29 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 29

1939

Polish Government in Exile. On September 29 or 30, 1939 Ignacy Mościcki, President of the Poland Republic resigned.  Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz, who had already evacuated Poland and fled to Paris, immediately took his constitutional oath at the Polish Embassy and became President of the Republic of Poland. He appointed General Władysław Sikorski to be Prime Minister as well as the Commander in Chief of the Polish Armed Forces (following General Rydz-Smigly's resignation). The Polish Government in Exile was based  in Paris, but then relocated near to Angers where President Władysław Raczkiewicz resided at the Château de Pignerolle from December 2 1939 until June 1940) When France fell during the Battle of France, the Polish Government in Exile evacuated from France and relocated to London, where it was officially recognized by all Allies.  When Germany invaded Russia in 1941 (Operation Barbarossa), the Polish Government in Exile established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union to fight against the Nazi Germans. But this dangerous alliance with Russia was a means with which to try to help the millions of Poles who had been deported to Russian gulags, and to rescue as many of them as possible from the murderous NKVD.


The Battle of Modlin was fought between Polish forces under the command of General Thommee against the German units.   Modlin Fortress was initially the headquarters, and defensive citadel of the Polish Modlin Army from September 13 to 23, 1939.  In addition to Polish troops, the fortress was also defended by the famous Polish armoured train code-named, "Smierc" (which means "death"). The Modlin anti-aircraft battery was a vital part of the defense and was credited with having shot down more Luftwaffe planes than in any other battle during the September campaign.   Despite Polish strength, the battle was won by the German forces.  Fortress Modlin capitulated on September 29, 1939 and was the last of Polish forces to lay down its weapons, surrendering 24,000 troops. 


The Battles of Parczew, Jabłoń and Milanów took place from September 29 to 30, 1939, and was one of the major battles between the Polish Army and the Red Army during the Soviet invasion of Poland.  Polish units successfully broke through the Soviet forces near the town of Parczew and progressed towards the Świętokrzyskie Mountains and resulted in a Polish victory.  Casualties were:  Polish, 20 dead;  and Soviets: ((170 dead, 300 wounded, 100 POWs)


1941

The Babi Yar Massacre.   The Nazi German SS Einsatzgruppen massacred 33,771 Jews at Babi Yar near Kiev over a period of two days of bloody slaughter. The Babi Yar Massacre was the second largest massacre of Jews by the Nazis during its campaign against the Soviet Union, ie. Operation Barbarossa.  Jewish men, women, and children were led to the Babi Yar ravine where they were systematically shot  by machine-gun fire, and whose dead bodies were placed in layers into the ravine, one on top of the other. Before they reached the ravine, the Nazi Germans ordered them to undress and turn over their money, valuables and clothing.   But before the Nazis retreated from Kiev, they were ordered by Wilhelm Koppe to conceal their atrocities in the East. The bodies were exhumed, burned and the ashes scattered over farmland in the vicinity.   (Koppe was Nazi commander who was responsible for numerous atrocities against the ethnic and Jewish Poles in Reichsgau Wartheland and the General Government, in Poland.)  The decision to kill all the Jews in Kiev was an organized effort which included Nazi German Kurt Eberhard, the military governor,  the Police Commander for Army Group South, SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln, and the Einsatzgruppe C Commander Otto Rasch.  The Sonderkommando 4a soldiers, the SD, SS Police Battalions and local police carried out the orders. Two days later the Nazi German commander reported the following:  "....The difficulties resulting from such a large scale action—in particular concerning the seizure—were overcome in Kiev by requesting the Jewish population through wall posters to move. Although only a participation of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 Jews had been expected at first, more than 30,000 Jews arrived who, until the very moment of their execution, still believed in their resettlement, thanks to an extremely clever organization...." (Nuremberg Military Tribunal, Einsatzgruppen trial, Judgment, at page 426)


1947

U.S. Military Tribunal in Nuremberg:  It was also called the Einsatzgruppen Trial, and was among the 12 trials conducted by the United States. also referred to as the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials. This trial lasted from September 29, 1947 to April 10, 1948.  The Nazi German Einsatzgruppen were mobile death squads, whose solitary objective was the systematic murder of the Jews, the Romani, the Slavs, and the physically handicapped and others within German-occupied territories.  Twenty-four officers of the Einsatzgruppen were tried, found guilty, and 14 were sentenced to death. But only the group commanders were executed, while the other death sentences were commuted.  On September 15, 1947, Nazi SS Eduard Strauch suffered an epileptic attack during the arraignment. His defense attorney jumped at the chance to have him excused from trial due to "medical" reasons. But the tribunal dismissed the appeal because Strauch was coherent and had no mental disability that would preclude his ability to stand trial. Strauch was a member of the SD (Nazi Party) and  SS commanding officer of Einsatzkommando 2 of Group A.  Strauch was sentenced to death by hanging, handed over to Belgian authorities, and died on September 11, 1955.



September 28, 2018

SEPTEMBER 28 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 28

1938

Polish-Czechoslovakian Border Conflict:   On September 28, 1938, Edvard Beneš, President of Czechoslovakia prepared a note to the Polish government with the proposal of reopening discussions concerning the territorial demarcation in Těšínsko. However, he delayed in sending it as he hoped to receive good news from the British and French governments. Dissatisfied with their responses, Benes approached the Soviet government, which then threatened Poland with the dissolution of the Soviet-Polish non-aggression pact. In the meantime, Soviet troops had just begun a partial mobilisation in eastern Belarus and the Ukraine.   The border conflicts began in 1918 following the end of World War I, and the newly created nation-states of the Second Polish Republic and First Czechoslovak Republic. It wasn't until 1958 that the conflicts were resolved with a treaty between the two states.


The Oster Conspiracy of 1938 was a plan to overthrow Hitler and the Nazi regime if Germany went to war with Czechoslovakia over the Sudetenland. The conspiracy was the brainchild of Generalmajor Hans Oster, deputy head of the Abwehr who was backed by other high-ranking officials of the Wehrmacht. They opposed Hitlers regime for trying to bring Germany into a war which Germany was not prepared to fight.  Their plan was essentially a coup d'etat in which they would overthrow (arrest or assassinate) Hitler, and storm the Reich Chancellery thereby restoring Wilhelm II as Emperor. However the plot became irrelevant when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement with Hitler in which the Sudetenland was virtually handed to Hitler on a silver platter. Hitler was then praised in Germany as the "greatest statesman of all times at the moment of his greatest triumph".


1939

The Siege of Warsaw lasted until September 28, 1939 when Polish troops under the command of General Walerian Czuma, capitulated to the Germans. The next day about 140,000 Polish soldiers were taken as prisoners of war.  About 18,000 civilians were killed, and 10% of the city's buildings were completely destroyed, while another 40% were heavily damaged.    Poland was divided between Germany and the Soviet Union (Vilnius to Lithuania, Western Ukraine to Ukranian SSR, Western Byelorussia to Byelorussian SSR). On October 1, the Nazi Germans occupied Warsaw throughout the war until January 17, 1945, when the city was so-called "liberated" by the Soviet Red Army.  Before the capitulation, Polish garrisons scrambled to hide weapons and destroy their heavy armaments. The hidden cache of weapons would be used during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.  (Editors note:  Polish Greatness Blog featured a special series called Invasion of Poland Day by Day. You can follow it at your own pace by referring to the my blog post entitled  "September 1939 Invasion of Poland Day by Day: An Index")


The Massacre in Zakroczym was committed by German troops of the Panzer division Kempf on September 28, 1939.  The Germans stormed on Polish positions located at Zakroczym, just as the Polish soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division were about to surrender.   Hundreds of Polish soldiers as well as civilians were massacred, and many others were wounded and brutally beaten.  German units barged into homes, robbing the people and setting the houses on fire. They tossed grenades into the basements where civilians were hiding.  According to Kazimierz Szczerbatko's estimate, based on eyewitnesses reports, about 500 Polish soldiers and 100 civilians were killed. The Massacre was most likely an act of revenge for the loss of an entire infantry division during the Battle of Mlawa. The Germans had lost 72 of their tanks even though they used Polish civilians as human shields in front of their tanks.


The Battle of Szack was fought on September 28, 1939 which resulted in a tactical Polish victory over the Soviets. When the Soviet armies invaded Poland on September 17, the Polish Border Defence Corps was severely stripped of all its military reserves and materiel.  Polish forces had been deployed to the west to reinforce Polish units fighting the Nazi Germans (who had invaded Poland on September 1st)  On the morning of September 28 the Polish units were marching toward the town of Szack in two columns; the northern column advanced to the forests near the village of Mielniki while the southern column headed towards the forests east of Szack. According to Polish reconnaissance, Soviet tank units (T-26 tanks) occupied the town of Szack. The Polish commander ordered both columns to form a defensive line along the border of the forest and provoked the Red Army to attack. By 8:00 in the morning the Soviet tank units launched a direct assault on Polish positions but the Poles did not return fire. They were ordered to wait until the Soviet tanks came closer. When the tanks reached a distance of 500 metres from Polish lines, the Polish Bofors wz. 36 anti-tank guns opened fire,  along with 75 mm artillery from the Polish infantry.  All Soviet tanks were destroyed.


The German-Soviet Frontier Treaty was signed on September 28, 1939. It was a secret clause that was agreed upon by Hitler and Stalin after the joint invasion and occupation of the sovereign Polish Republic. It was signed by the foreign ministers of the Germany, Joachim von Ribbentrop and of Russia, Vyacheslav Molotov, and witnessed by Stalin. The treaty was only the first of a series of secret protocols attached to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939.  This secret agreement was not known to the public at the time as it remained highly classified.  Among its articles, it specified the "spheres of influence" of Poland, and stated that "Polish agitation" directed to either party of the treaty would not be tolerated.


1944

Allied Support Efforts:   Since August 4,1944 allied aircraft had dropped a total of 370 tons over Warsaw to supply weapons to the Polish insurgents. The operations were a failure as at least 50 % of the supplies fell into German hands.  About 360 airmen, and 41 Allied aircraft (British, Polish, South African and American) were lost.  Due to Stalin's refusal to grant landing rights in Russia, allied planes had to operate over long distances from bases in Italy and Britain. Consequently, payload had to be reduced, and the number of sorties drastically limited.   The meager supplies retrieved by the Polish insurgents were insufficient to sustain the Polish resistance and by October 2, 1944, Warsaw was overrun by Nazi troops.