June 22, 2018

JUNE 22 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

JUNE 22

1938

Colonel Walery Slawek was elected Marshall of the Sejm, that is, the speaker (chair) of the Sejm, in the lower house of the Polish parliament. The history of this Office has been traced to the 15th century. In modern Poland, the full title is Marshal of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland. In the Second Polish Republic (1918-1939), the deputies elected one of their number as Marshal of the Sejm for the duration of the Sejm's term. Until 1935 (when superseded by the Senate Marshal), the Marshal or Chairman of the Sejm substituted for the President of Poland in the latter's absence or disability (Acting President of the Republic of Poland).  During the 1930s Slawek served three times as Prime Minister of Poland. He was one of the closest aides of Polish leader, Józef Piłsudski. (see April 2, 1939)


1940

France signed an armistice with Hitler:   The Second Armistice at Compiègne was signed by France and Germany, which split French territory -  Germany occupied the north and western regions, while the remainder was the so-called unoccupied free zone, to be administered by the Vichy government led by Marshal Philippe Pétain, but with strict restrictions. Italy also held control albeit of a small occupation zone in the south-east.  All individuals who had been granted political asylum had to be surrendered to the Germans and occupation costs were imposed on France to the tune of 400 million French francs a day. The Germans however permitted a fledgling French Army, but disarmed the French Navy.  Moreover, more than one million French soldiers became POWs and spent the rest of the war in prison camps. Hitler chose Compiègne Forest for the signing of the armistice because of its symbolism. In a supreme act of revenge, Hitler not only used the same rail carriage, and placed in the exact spot where it had been in 1918, but sat in the same chair as Marshal Ferdinand Foch when he faced the military leaders of the defeated Germany.  The cease-fire went into effect at 00:35 on June  25, 1940.


1941

Nazis invaded Russia: Operation Barbarossa was the brain-child of Hitler and was two years in the planning. Hitler's objectives were to invade and conquer Russia, to seize the vast oil reserves in the Caucasus, use the Russians as slave labourers, and repopulate the area with German settlers.(Hitler envisaged himself conquering Russia as a latter-day "Napoleon".) The Soviet Union had suffered heavily from the battles, losing huge tracts of territory, and vast losses in men and material. Nevertheless, the Red Army proved capable of countering the German offensives, particularly as the Germans began experiencing irreplaceable shortages in manpower, armaments, provisions, and fuel. By 1943, Soviet arms production was fully operational and increasingly outproducing the German war machine.  Operation Zitadelle was the final major German offensive in the Eastern theater which took place during July to August 1943. Approximately one million German troops faced a Soviet force of over 2.5 million strong.  Following the victory of Operation Zitadelle,  the Soviet forces having amassed a total of 6 million men advanced along a 1,500 mile front towards the Dnepr River driving the Germans westward.  The Red Army destroyed Army Group Centre, and liberated much of the area that had been occupied by the Nazi Germans. With additional Soviet offensives against the German Army Groups North and South in the fall of 1944 the German war machine was beaten into a retreat and in January 1945, Berlin was the final conquest by the Red Army. World War Two ended with the defeat and capitulation of Nazi Germany in May 1945.


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