March 20, 2018




Upper Silesia voted in the plebiscite to remain German. The vote was mandated by the Versailles Treaty to determine a section of the border between Weimar Germany and Poland. The results showed that 702,045 electors favored remaining with Germany against 479,232 who favored the region be annexed to Poland. The pro-German vote was concentrated in a few isolated regions surrounded by a largely pro-Polish countryside.  However, by late April rumours were rapidly spreading that Upper Silesia would stay in Germany, which led to the Third Polish Uprising in May. The question of the Upper Silesia problem was turned over to a council of the League of Nations who deliberated on the matter and finally awarded the greater part of the Upper Silesian industrial district to Poland (in Oct 1921)  The ethnic demography of the region was a mix of Germans and Poles. Before WWI ethnic Poles comprised 60 percent of the population however they faced discrimination and were treated like second class citizens, under the rule of the German Empire.


Dachau Concentration Camp was established in Germany by the order of Heinrich Himmler; it was to be guarded by men of the SS.  Dachau was the first of the Nazi concentration camps in Germany, located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory.  Initially intended to hold political prisoners, its purpose was enlarged to include forced labor, and eventually, the imprisonment of Jews, German and Austrian criminals, and eventually foreign nationals from countries that Germany occupied or invaded. The Dachau camp system grew to include nearly 100 sub-camps, which were mostly work camps or Arbeitskommandos, and were located throughout southern Germany and Austria. There were 32,000 documented deaths at the camp, and thousands more that were undocumented. The camps were liberated by U.S. forces on May 1, 1945.  After the end of WW2, Dachau was used to hold SS soldiers awaiting trial. After 1948, it held ethnic Germans who had been expelled from eastern Europe and were awaiting resettlement, and also was used as a United States military base during the occupation. It was finally closed in 1960.


Construction began of the town and steel mill in Stalowa Wola. (Note: Stalowa Wola is one of the youngest cities of Poland. It was built from scratch in the late 1930s in the forests surrounding the village of Pławo.  It was intended as a settlement for workers of the factory Huta Stalowa Wola,  major producer of military equipment in Poland. The town was also the secret meeting centre of the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa). Stalowa Wola was captured by the Red Army in August 1944, and on April 1, 1945.


After the death of Boleslaw Bierut on March 12, 1956, Edward Ochab was named to succeed him as 1st secretary of Polish PZRP.  Previously, he was a communist social activist, politician and member of the Communist Party of Poland since 1929, and was repeatedly imprisoned for his activities under the Polish government of the time.  In 1939 he fought in the Defense of Warsaw but afterwards switched allegiance and moved to the Soviet Union, where he became an early organizer and manager in the Union of Polish Patriots.  In 1943 he joined General Berling's Polish Army on the Eastern Front as a political officer and quickly rose through the ranks. Ochab played a role in authorizing the violent suppression of the Solidarnosc (Solidarity) worker revolt in Poznań in June. In 1968 Ochab resigned from all of his party and state offices, and withdrew from politics. This was in protest of the anti-Semitic campaign conducted by factions within the communist party and permitted by his successor, Wladyslaw Gomułka, ironically whose wife was also Jewish.


The US government forgave $2 billion in loans to Poland.  Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) announced a plan that would forgive a $2.25 billion of Poland's agricultural debt to the United States. Leahy called the plan, "Food for Freedom"  which would also provide Poland with surplus commodities.


Pope John Paul II arrived in Jerusalem for a six day pilgrimage. He celebrated Mass in Bethlehem and prayed at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall, where he inserted a note asking God's forgiveness for Christian persecution of Jews.

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