August 2, 2018

AUGUST 2 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

AUGUST 2

1934

German President Paul von Hindenburg died.  With the presidential office vacant, Hitler proclaimed himself head of state. (President von Hindenburg had signed the The Reichstag Fire Decree on February 28, 1933, on the advice of Hitler.  The decree nullified many civil liberties of German citizens. With Nazis holding powerful positions in the German government, the decree allowed them to legally imprison anyone considered to be opponents of the Nazi Party. A month after that, Hitler passed the Enabling Act, and proclaimed himself "fuhrer". (see March 24, 1933)


1943

Over three hundred Jews escaped from Treblinka:  On August 2, 1943, Jewish prisoners in Treblinka quietly seized weapons from the camp armory, but were discovered before they could take over the camp. Hundreds of prisoners stormed the main gate in an attempt to escape. Many were killed by machine-gun fire. More than 300 did escape -- though two thirds of those who escaped were eventually tracked down and killed by German SS and police as well as military units. Acting under orders from Lublin, German SS and police personnel supervised the surviving prisoners, who were forced to dismantle the camp. After completion of this job, the German SS and police authorities shot the surviving prisoners.


1944

Stefan Paweł Rowecki died on August 2 1944. He was a Polish general, and the leader of the Armia Krajowa.(Polish Home Army) He was executed by the Gestapo in prison, probably on the direct order of Heinrich Himmler. There have been claims that the arrest of Rowecki on June 30, 1943 was a result of a wider intelligence operation against the Polish Underground State. The Nazis plan was to eliminate top commanders and political leaders of the Polish resistance. During the same period, the Gestapo arrested the commander of National Armed Forces (NSZ), Colonel Ignacy Oziewicz (on June 9, 1943). Then on July 4, 1943, General Władysław Sikorski was killed in a plane crash under mysterious circumstances, which raised suspicions that the Soviet NKVD was somehow responsible.  Within a period of two months, the Polish Army had lost three top commanders. (see June 30, 1943)


1945

Potsdam Conference, held between July 17 and August 2, 1945, was attended by leaders of US, UK and Soviet Union, to decide how to administer the defeated Nazi Germany, which had agreed to unconditional surrender nine weeks earlier, on May 8, (V-E Day). The goals of the conference included the establishment of post-war order, peace treaty issues, and countering the effects of the war. They also agreed on the matter of Poland's border, ie the  provisional western border would be defined by the line along the Oder and Neisse rivers. Silesia, Pomerania, the southern part of East Prussia and the former Free City of Danzig would be ceded to Poland. However the final delimitation of the western frontier of Poland would await the peace settlement (which would take place 45 years later at the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany in 1990). The three leaders all officiallyt recognized the Provisional Government of National Unity (known as the Lublin Poles). This meant, in effect, that the legitimate Polish Government in Exile in London (or the London Poles) had been overthrown (by agreement of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin).  The leaders also assured that Poles who were serving in the British Army "should be free to return to Poland, with no security upon their return to the communist country guaranteed."


Rescue of USS Indianapolis Crew:   On July 30th, the USS Indianapolis was attacked, and sunk with 300 men on board.   900 men were adrift in the ocean struggling to survive on the meager food rations they could find among the debris. They waited four terrifying days, suffering hunger, thirst, exposure, and surrounded by swarms of sharks. Many of the men were attacked and eaten by the sharks; others, in desperation, drank the salt water resulting in madness and death.  On August 2, 1945 at 10:25, while on a routine patrol flight, Lieutenant Wilbur Gwinn, and co-pilot Lt. Warren Colwell accidentally spotted the survivors. They immediately dropped a life raft and radio transmitter,  and contacted Navy Command to dispatch air and surface rescue operations at once.  U.S. Navy Command did not even know about the ship's sinking until the pilot reported it.  The vessel was scheduled to arrived at Leyte on July 31, but no report was ever made that the vessel was overdue.  (The USS Indianapolis had sailed on a secret mission to deliver the components of the atomic bomb called "Little Boy" to Tinian Island. The bomb would later be dropped on Hiroshima. Having unloaded the cargo, the vessel was on its way to Leyte when it was hit by torpedoes from a Japanese submarine.)



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