August 1, 2018




The 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin was declared open. The Nazi regime temporarily removed anti-Semitic posters for the duration of athletic events in an effort to "clean up" Germany's image to the world.  The Olympics was a propaganda bonanza for Hitler who tried to showcase Germany to the world as cordial, sane, and tolerant. Meanwhile the Nazis banned many Jewish athletes from competing in the events (though many Jews had boycotted the Berlin Olympics).  Lilli Henoch, a top athlete in the shot put and discus throw was excluded from the games. She was a four time world record holder and 10 time German national champion. Gretel Bergmann was suspended from the German team just days after she set a record of 1.60 meters in the high jump. Hitler wanted the so-called  Aryan German athletes to march away with all the medals, and he was stunned when the American track star, a black man, Jesse Owens had won four gold medals in track and field events.  But as Owens was running for gold, "two Jewish runners for the U.S. team, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, had been pulled by their coach from the 4×100 meter relay the day before the event, so that they would not humiliate Germany. (Nazi Germans referred to Jews  as " untermenschen", that is sub-human, yet many Jewish athletes were capable of surpassing the Nazi athletes.)  After the closing of the Berlin Olympics, the Nazis resumed their persecution of the Jews. Many of the Jewish athletes that competed in the games were arrested and late died in concentration camps.  Ilja Szraibman, a Polish swimmer, and Roman Kantor, a Polish fencer, later died in Majdanek extermination camp.  Alfred Nakache, was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. He survived and competed in the 1948 Olympic Games in London.


Bialystock Ghetto established by the Nazis: The Białystok Ghetto was set up between July 26 and early August 1941. About 50,000 Jews from the vicinity of Białystok and  surrounding region were forced into a small area of the city, which was turned into the Bezirk's capital. The ghetto was split in two by the Biała River running through it. The Jews were subjected to forced-labor enterprises to serve the German war effort, primarily in large textile, shoe and chemical companies operating inside and outside its boundaries. On August 1, 1941, the Nazis sealed the ghetto, isolating the inmates inside. Following the Bialystok Uprising, the Nazis liquidated the ghetto,  and transported most of the Jews by train to Majdanek and Treblinka extermination camps.


The Warsaw Uprising was launched on August 1, 1944 upon the order of General Tadeusz "Bor" Komorowski, commander of the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa).  Their objective was to liberate Warsaw from German occupation, and the uprising was timed with the retreat of the German forces, as the Soviet troops advanced into Poland. The Red Army approached the eastern suburbs of Warsaw, but instead of entering Warsaw, they stopped their advance on the banks of the Vistula River.  The Soviets waited as the German forces regrouped and decimated the Polish Resistance fighters and then razed Warsaw to the ground.  On the first day of the Uprising, Heinrich Himmler ordered the destruction of the city and the extermination of its civilian population.  At an SS Officers Conference, Himmler stated, "The city must completely disappear from the surface of the earth and serve only as a transport station for the Wehrmacht. No stone can remain standing. Every building must be razed to its foundation."  On the first day of the Uprising, the Polish Home Army had military supplies that consisted of 1,000 guns, 1,750 pistols, 300 sub-machine guns, 60 assault rifles, 7 heavy machine guns, 20 anti-tank guns, and 25,000 hand grenades. These were augmented with additional weapons received by allied air drops, or weapons the Poles had seized from German soldiers during battles The Polish Underground also mass produced many weapons, such as grenades, grenade launchers, and flame throwers. The Polish underground resistance movement was the largest resistance in Europe. The Warsaw Uprising was expected to last just a few days but the Polish insurgents fought for 63 days with no military support from their allies, and finally capitulated. The help promised by their allies was too little, too late. The Warsaw Uprising was the single largest military effort undertaken by any European resistance movement during World War II. 

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