May 3, 2018




The Constitution of May 3 (the first modern constitution in Europe) was proclaimed by the Sejm of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Constitution established a more democratic constitutional monarchy by introducing elements of political equality between townspeople and nobility. It placed the peasants under the protection of the government, thus mitigating the worst abuses of serfdom.  The liberum veto, which had previously put the Sejm at the mercy of any deputy,  was out rightly revoked. Among its features was the primacy of separation and balance of powers between the three branches of government and advocacy of a bicameral legislature. It also acknowledged the dominant religion as the Roman Catholic faith, and guaranteed tolerance and freedom to all religions. It was the first constitution of its kind in Europe, and the second-oldest constitution after the United States Constitution of 1787.   The Commonwealth's neighbours reacted with hostility to the adoption of Poland's new Constitution and was partitioned by the Russian Empire and Prussia in 1793, and a third partition in 1795 splitting up the remaining territories. Poland ceased to exist for 123 years.


Upper Silesia: Fighting erupted between German troops and Poles led by Plebiscite Commissioner Wojciech Korfanty. Two months of inconclusive battles convinced the Allied Powers to set aside the results of the plebiscite. (Note:  Korfanty was a Polish activist, journalist and politician, who served as a member of the German parliaments, the Reichstag and the Prussian Landtag, and later, in the Polish Sejm. Briefly, he also was a paramilitary leader, known for organizing the Polish Silesian Uprisings in Upper Silesia, which after World War I was contested by Germany and Poland. Korfanty fought to protect Poles from discrimination and the policies of Germanisation in Upper Silesia before the war and sought to annex Silesia to Poland after Poland regained its independence.)


The German ocean liner Cap Arcona was sunk by British warplanes..Cap Arcona was initially an accommodation vessel, but was put into use as a prison ship during WW2.  In May 1945 Arcona was carrying prisoners from Nazi concentrations camps, when the RAF sank her killing about 5,000 people aboard, with another 2,000 further casualties in the sinking of the accompanying ships Deutschland, and Thielbek. It was one of the biggest single-incident maritime losses of life in the Second World War. (In the months of March and April 1945, under Himmlers orders, by the end of April Neuengamme concentration camp was to be completely emptied of all remaining camp prisoners and Soviet POWs, and eventually relocated to a secret camp. (Scandinavians however were sent home to freedom.) As the British and Canadian forces were advancing, the SS concealed the prisoners on a 'prison flotilla" of decommissoned ships in the Bay of Lubeck, comprising the Cap Arcona, the Deutschland, and the freighter Thielbek.  RAF Pilot Allan Wyse of No. 193 Squadron recalled, "We used our cannon fire at the chaps in the water... we shot them up with 20 mm cannons in the water. Horrible thing, but we were told to do it and we did it. That's war." The prisoners on the ship represented 30 nationalities: American, Belarusian, Belgian, Canadian, Czechoslovakian, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Luxembourger, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swiss, Ukrainian, and perhaps others.

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