May 25, 2018

MAY 25 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

MAY 25

992

Mieszko I was the first ruler of Polans who ruled from 960 AD until his death on May 25, 992. He was a member of the Piast dynasty and a de facto creater of the Polish State. Mieszko unified numerous disparate Polish regions, introduced Christianity as the basis of the Polish state, and established the Gniezno Cathedral (which has survived to this day). Through his skill at diplomacy and military prowess, Miezko substantially expanded Polish territories that included Silesia, Western Pomerania, and probably Lesser Poland including Krakow.The territory of the Polish nation became twice as vast as the lands he inherited from his father, Siemomysł.


1905

Mieczysław Gregory Bekker (dob) was a Polish engineer and scientist. Bekker worked for the Polish Ministry of Military Affairs from 1931 to 1939, and the Army Research Institute in Warsaw. There he worked on systems for tracking vehicles to work on uneven ground.  When Germany and Russia invaded Poland in 1939, he was in a unit that retreated to Romania, then moved to France. In 1942 he accepted an offer from the Canadian government to relocate to Ottawa and work in armored vehicle research.  A year later he enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1943 as a researcher and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Decommissioned in 1956, he moved to the U.S.  Bekker co-authored the general idea and contributed significantly to the design and construction of the Lunar Roving Vehicle used by missions Apollo 15, Apollo 16, and Apollo 17 on the Moon. He was the author of several patented inventions in the area of off-the-road vehicles, including those for extraterrestrial use.


1946

Rudolf Hoss was handed over into the custody of Polish authorities. The Supreme National Tribunal in Poland tried him for murder. His trial lasted nineteen days. During the trial, when accused of murdering three and a half million people, Höss replied, "No. Only two and one half million—the rest died from disease and starvation." ( See April 16, 1947)


1948

Witold Pilecki  was a Polish cavalry officer and intelligence officer who became a member of the underground Home Army (Armia Krajowa). During World War II, he volunteered for an secret operation in which he allowed himself to be arrested in a roundup, and was deported to Auschwitz death camp. While there he gathered vital intelligence, and attempted to organize a secret resistance movement.  He escaped from Auschwitz in 1943 after nearly two and a half years of imprisonment. As early as 1941, Pilecki informed the Western Allies of Nazi Germany's Auschwitz atrocities through contacts with his colleagues on the outside.  He fought with the Polish underground during the Warsaw Uprising (August 1 to October 3, 1944.) At the end of WW2, the Soviets occupied Poland and persecuted Poles who still remained loyal to the London-based Polish Government-in-Exile.  Soviet police of the Ministry of Public Security arrested Pilecki on charges of espionage.  After conducting a show trial in 1948, they executed him on May 25, 1948.


1997

A constitutional referendum was held in Poland on May 25, 1997. Voters were asked whether they approved of a new constitution. It was narrowly approved, with 53.5% voting in favour (22,58% of Voters with right to vote, voting for "yes"). Voter turnout was just 42.9%. Although the 1995 Referendum Act stated that a 50% turnout was required to validate the referendum, the Supreme Court ruled on July 15 that the constitution could be introduced.


2014

Death of Wojciech Jaruzelski. Jaruzelski was leader of communist-ruled Poland since 1985 as Prime Minister, and Head of State, then as President from 1989 to 1990.  He died on May 25, 2014 following a stroke.  President Bronisław Komorowski and former Presidents Lech Wałęsa and Aleksander Kwaśniewski as well as hundreds of other Poles attended his funeral mass at the Field Cathedral of the Polish Army in Warsaw  Wałęsa and Komorowski, were among the thousands imprisoned during the crackdown on Solidarity in 1981.  Jaruzelski was cremated and buried with full military honors at Powązki Military Cemetery in Warsaw, near the grave of Bolesław Bierut, the first Communist leader of Poland after World War II.  The decision to bury Jaruzelski at Powązki Cemetary, with full military honours, raised an outcry of protest from many Polish people who recall that Jaruzelski imposed martial law, resulting in the arrests of thousands of Poles, and around 91 killed.  The debate still continues if Jaruzelski took such action to circumvent what might have been a disastrous Soviet military intervention, or if he was a traitor to Poland. As Walesa and Komorowski said the judgement "would be left to God." Powaki is the resting place of Polish heroes killed fighting for the freedom of Poland since the early 19th century.

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