May 1, 2018




Rudolph Hoss was appointed commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp. The earliest inmates at Auschwitz were Soviet and Polish prisoners-of-war, including peasants and intellectuals. Auschwitz was built on about 80,000 hectares of land (20,000 acres) whose prisoners had been deported by the Nazi Germans. Auschwitz had three separate facilities: Auschwitz I was the administrative centre for the complex;  Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the extermination camp, and Auschwitz III-Monowitz was the slave labour camp for German companies such as  I.G. Farbenindustrie AG. There were many other smaller, satellite sub-camps.  About 700 prisoners arrived in June 1940 and were told by the Nazis that they would not survive more than 3 months.


Battle in Berlin:  In the early morning of May 1st, the Soviet 334th Brigade broke through the German barricades at Pestalozzistrasse, and re-esatablished contact with the the 19th Mechanized Brigade. Supported by the 2nd and 3rd Battalion of the 1st Regiment, they pushed through the barricades at Goethestrasse and Schillerstrasse. Despite heavily fortified German positions, the district in and around the church at the Karl August-Platz was taken, making it possible for Polish and Soviet units to advance along the Goethestrasse and Schillerstrasse. Meanwhile, the Polish 2nd Regiment, backed by its own artillery support, took the heavily fortified Berlin Institute of Technology located in the triangle between Charlottenburgerstrasse, Hardenbergstrasse and Jebenstrasse.  The Soviet 66th Guards Tank Brigade (with only 15 tanks) was joined by the Polish 3rd Infantry Regiment, and broke through Franklinstrasse advancing towards the Berlin-Tiergarten station. The stronghold of the Tiergarten (S-Bahn) station was then secured by the 3rd Infantry Regiment.  Subsequently, the Polish and Soviet forces took control of the Zoologischer Garten station and the railway line that crossed between them.  With the combined forces of the Red Army and Polish units, they successfully broke through the central Berlin west line of defense.  Approximately at 04:00, German General Hans Krebs talked to Chuikov, commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army, and refused to agree to an unconditional surrender. The only official with that authority was Goebels, who had already poisoned his children, and subsequently committed suicide with his wife by biting on cyanide capsules.  At 10:45 the Soviets carried out their ultimatum and unleashed a veritable "Hurricane of Fire" on the remaining Germans, to force an unconditional surrender.  Just after 15:00 the Germans finally surrendered to Soviet General F. I. Perkhorovitch's 47th Army.

Karl Dönitz announced that Hitler had committed suicide, and had appointed him as his successor, in his last will and testament.  The next day Donitz escaped to Flensburg-Murwik ahead of advancing British troops, and formed a new Reich government.  Dönitz made a nationwide radio address in which he announced Hitler's death and said the war would continue in the east "to save Germany from destruction by the advancing Bolshevik enemy".  But Dönitz knew that the Wehrmacht had been defeated and no longer capable of fighting. For the brief time he was in office, he wanted to ensure that the German troops would surrender to the British or to Americans, but not to the Soviets. He was afraid of the infamous vengeance that Soviet troops could inflict on the Germans, and he hoped to strike a deal with western Allies.


New Members of the European Community: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia joined the European Union, celebrated at the residence of the Irish President in Dublin.  Diplomatic relations between Poland and the European Economic Community began on September 16, 1988. A year later, on September 19, 1989,  an agreement was signed on trade and commercial and economic cooperation in Warsaw. Formal negotiations began on December 22, 1990, and ended on December 16, 1991, in the "European Agreement establishing an association between the Republic of Poland and the European Communities and their Member States". It came into effect February 1, 1994.

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