February 13, 2018




Bombing of Dresden:  In one of the more controversial events of the war, the bombing of Dresden began on February 13, 1945. Over a period of three days a total of 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices were dropped on the city.  British RAF Bomber Command decided to carry out the first raid and that it would be a double strike.  The second wave would attack three hours after the first contingent, and were done just as rescue teams were trying to put out the fires in the city. Multiple raids were launched during the night to confuse German air defenses. Three hundred and sixty heavy bombers (Lancasters and Halifaxes) bombed a synthetic oil plant in Böhlen, 60 miles (97 km) from Dresden, while de Havilland Mosquito medium bombers attacked Magdeburg, Bonn, Misburg near Hanover and Nuremberg. Polish pilot squadrons, attached to the RAF, participated in the raid.  Just as the Poles were preparing for the mission, the terms of the Yalta agreement were made known to them.  There was a huge uproar, since Churchill and Roosevelt at Yalta agreement bi-laterally handed parts of Polish territory over to Stalin.  The situation because extremely tense and hostile as there was talk of mutiny among the Polish pilots, and their British officers removed their side arms. The protest subsided when the Polish Government in Exile in London ordered the Polish pilots to follow orders and fly their missions over Dresden.  The destruction of the city provoked unease in some intellectual circles in Britain. Howard Cowan, an Associated Press war correspondent, subsequently filed a story saying that the Allies had resorted to terror bombing. British Air Commodore Colin McKay Grierson answered the accusation that the primary aim was to attack communications to prevent the Germans from moving military supplies, and to stop movement in all directions if possible. He then added in an offhand remark that the raid also helped destroy "what is left of German morale."


Marian Rejewski died. He was a Polish mathematician and cryptologist who in 1932, (along with his colleagues Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski) discovered the key to breaking the Enigma code, and constructed working copies of the Enigma machine. Seven years later at the outbreak of World War II, the Polish team gave the information to the British and French along with working copies of the Enigma machine. It gave the British SOE, the means with which to read the encrypted messages. The intelligence that was gained from it formed the basis of Ultra, (British espionage unit) and contributed to the defeat of Germany.


Solidarity activists Adam Michnik, Bogdan Lis, and Wladyslaw Frasyniuk were arrested on February 13, 1985 during a clandestine meeting headed by Lech Walesa, in which they were discussing plans for a work stoppage to protest against the government's  announcement of a 13% increase in food prices. They planned for a symbolic 15 minute strike slated for February 28, and Walesa was defiant to go ahead with plans despite the government threats. Walesa was charged with inciting public unrest and organizing illegal protests and was threatened with five year imprisonment.  He addressed more than 1,000 supporters who packed a courtyard outside St. Brigida's Church, telling them that  "The best sons of our land are being imprisoned and that is why this (strike) has to succeed,"   Walesa was joined by more than 5,000 worshipers for a Mass as a show of support for the three Solidarity activists arrested.

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