POLISH GREATNESS TRAFFIC

September 30, 2018

SEPTEMBER 30 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 30

1938

The Munich Agreement was signed in the early hours of September 30, 1938 by Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain, and Daladier.  The leaders of Britain, France and Italy essentially agreed to permit Hitler to annex the Sudetenland (a portion of Czechoslovakia) on the condition that Hitler would not pursue further annexations. On the same day, Chamberlain returned to England, his plane landing at the Heston Aerodrome. And with smiles on his face he gave this speech.  The following is an excerpt from an archival video:   ".... The settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, only this time he has told me that it is his intention to come halfway to meet me (he paused and smiled, as the crowd cheered and applauded)....(he waved a piece of paper triumphantly, smiling, then continued) "....some of you perhaps have already heard what it contains, but I would just like to read it to you....We regard the Agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German naval agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again...." (The speech was followed by roar of enthusiastic cheers from the crowd and more applause.) However, not all British welcomed this agreement.  On the same day about 15,000 gathered in Trafalgar Square to protest the agreement (consisting of three times more than the crowds who welcomed Chamberlain at 10 Downing Street.) But the world did not know this because Chamberlain censored the BBC so that the protest was not reported nor televised.  On March 15, 1939, the Germans invaded and occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia, and on September 1, 1939 invaded Poland, starting World War II.


Polish Ultimatum:  At noon on September 30, 1938 Poland issued an ultimatum to the Czechoslovak government, which demanded the immediate evacuation of Czechoslovak troops, and gave them a deadline of noon the next day.  At issue was an important railway junction city of Bohumín, which Nazi Germany originally demanded from Czechoslovakia.  Polish Colonel Józef Beck assessed that Warsaw would have to take quick action to forestall the German occupation.  At precisely 11:45 a.m. on October 1st,  the Czechoslovak foreign ministry contacted the Polish ambassador in Prague and agreed to the demands.  An area of 801.5 km² with a population of 227,399 people was annexed by the Polish Army under the command of General Władysław Bortnowski.  Germany was delighted with the outcome as it provided fodder for their propaganda machine. The Nazis quickly took the opportunity to  accuse Poland falsely of being accomplices in the partition of Czechoslovakia, in order to confuse the allies, and place the blame of hostilities on Poland.  (note: Poland never collaborated with the Nazi regime and fought against them throughout World War Two.)


1939

The Polish Underground State (1939-1945), also known as the Polish Secret State,  was a collective term for the underground resistance organizations in Poland -  both military and civilian, that were loyal to the Government of the Republic of Poland in exile in London.  The Underground State was established during the final days of the German invasion of Poland. The Secret State was a legal continuation of the Republic of Poland (and all its institutions) that existed before the war. Its objectives were to wage an armed struggle against Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, as well as administer to civilian matters such as courts of law, education, culture and social services.  The Polish Underground had created the largest underground State in the world. The military sector consisted primarily of various branches of the Armia Krajowa (AK) and, until 1942, the Union of Armed Struggle. Their objective was to prepare all Poles for a future fight to liberate their country.  Their major activities dealt with underground armed resistance, sabotage, intelligence, training, and propaganda.  Polish intelligence operatives supplied valuable intelligence information to the Allies; 43 percent of all reports received by British secret services from continental Europe in 1939–45 came from Polish sources.  The total number of members of Armia Krajowa reached over 400,000, and was recognized as the largest resistance movement during the war.


1944

Warsaw Uprising ended. Polish insurgents were taken prisoners by the Germans and evacuated to POW camps. The next day German troops marched into Warsaw.  After the remaining civilians were found and taken out of the city, the Germans began a systematic destruction of the city of Warsaw, block by block. They used explosives, bombs, and flamethrowers to demolish every house, and every building.  Among the city structures destroyed was an estimated number of 10,455 buildings, 923 historical buildings (94%), 25 churches, 14 libraries including the National Library, the Polish national archives, 81 primary schools, 64 high schools, University of Warsaw and Warsaw University of Technology, and most of the historical monuments. (Note: By January 1945, 85% of Warsaw was razed to the ground (25% as a result of the Uprising; 35% as a result of German actions during the Uprising, and the remainder due to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the September 1939 Campaign.)  About a million Polish civilians lost all their worldly goods. It is impossible to assess the exact value of the loss of private and public property, as well as loss of priceless works of art, historical monuments, cultural and scientific artifacts, but it was estimated to be about $30 Billion U.S. Dollars (at 1940 evaluation). In 2005 a reassessment was made that the loss had an estimated valued at $54.6 Billion.


September 29, 2018

SEPTEMBER 29 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 29

1939

Polish Government in Exile. On September 29 or 30, 1939 Ignacy Mościcki, President of the Poland Republic resigned.  Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz, who had already evacuated Poland and fled to Paris, immediately took his constitutional oath at the Polish Embassy and became President of the Republic of Poland. He appointed General Władysław Sikorski to be Prime Minister as well as the Commander in Chief of the Polish Armed Forces (following General Rydz-Smigly's resignation). The Polish Government in Exile was based  in Paris, but then relocated near to Angers where President Władysław Raczkiewicz resided at the Château de Pignerolle from December 2 1939 until June 1940) When France fell during the Battle of France, the Polish Government in Exile evacuated from France and relocated to London, where it was officially recognized by all Allies.  When Germany invaded Russia in 1941 (Operation Barbarossa), the Polish Government in Exile established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union to fight against the Nazi Germans. But this dangerous alliance with Russia was a means with which to try to help the millions of Poles who had been deported to Russian gulags, and to rescue as many of them as possible from the murderous NKVD.


The Battle of Modlin was fought between Polish forces under the command of General Thommee against the German units.   Modlin Fortress was initially the headquarters, and defensive citadel of the Polish Modlin Army from September 13 to 23, 1939.  In addition to Polish troops, the fortress was also defended by the famous Polish armoured train code-named, "Smierc" (which means "death"). The Modlin anti-aircraft battery was a vital part of the defense and was credited with having shot down more Luftwaffe planes than in any other battle during the September campaign.   Despite Polish strength, the battle was won by the German forces.  Fortress Modlin capitulated on September 29, 1939 and was the last of Polish forces to lay down its weapons, surrendering 24,000 troops. 


The Battles of Parczew, Jabłoń and Milanów took place from September 29 to 30, 1939, and was one of the major battles between the Polish Army and the Red Army during the Soviet invasion of Poland.  Polish units successfully broke through the Soviet forces near the town of Parczew and progressed towards the Świętokrzyskie Mountains and resulted in a Polish victory.  Casualties were:  Polish, 20 dead;  and Soviets: ((170 dead, 300 wounded, 100 POWs)


1941

The Babi Yar Massacre.   The Nazi German SS Einsatzgruppen massacred 33,771 Jews at Babi Yar near Kiev over a period of two days of bloody slaughter. The Babi Yar Massacre was the second largest massacre of Jews by the Nazis during its campaign against the Soviet Union, ie. Operation Barbarossa.  Jewish men, women, and children were led to the Babi Yar ravine where they were systematically shot  by machine-gun fire, and whose dead bodies were placed in layers into the ravine, one on top of the other. Before they reached the ravine, the Nazi Germans ordered them to undress and turn over their money, valuables and clothing.   But before the Nazis retreated from Kiev, they were ordered by Wilhelm Koppe to conceal their atrocities in the East. The bodies were exhumed, burned and the ashes scattered over farmland in the vicinity.   (Koppe was Nazi commander who was responsible for numerous atrocities against the ethnic and Jewish Poles in Reichsgau Wartheland and the General Government, in Poland.)  The decision to kill all the Jews in Kiev was an organized effort which included Nazi German Kurt Eberhard, the military governor,  the Police Commander for Army Group South, SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln, and the Einsatzgruppe C Commander Otto Rasch.  The Sonderkommando 4a soldiers, the SD, SS Police Battalions and local police carried out the orders. Two days later the Nazi German commander reported the following:  "....The difficulties resulting from such a large scale action—in particular concerning the seizure—were overcome in Kiev by requesting the Jewish population through wall posters to move. Although only a participation of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 Jews had been expected at first, more than 30,000 Jews arrived who, until the very moment of their execution, still believed in their resettlement, thanks to an extremely clever organization...." (Nuremberg Military Tribunal, Einsatzgruppen trial, Judgment, at page 426)


1947

U.S. Military Tribunal in Nuremberg:  It was also called the Einsatzgruppen Trial, and was among the 12 trials conducted by the United States. also referred to as the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials. This trial lasted from September 29, 1947 to April 10, 1948.  The Nazi German Einsatzgruppen were mobile death squads, whose solitary objective was the systematic murder of the Jews, the Romani, the Slavs, and the physically handicapped and others within German-occupied territories.  Twenty-four officers of the Einsatzgruppen were tried, found guilty, and 14 were sentenced to death. But only the group commanders were executed, while the other death sentences were commuted.  On September 15, 1947, Nazi SS Eduard Strauch suffered an epileptic attack during the arraignment. His defense attorney jumped at the chance to have him excused from trial due to "medical" reasons. But the tribunal dismissed the appeal because Strauch was coherent and had no mental disability that would preclude his ability to stand trial. Strauch was a member of the SD (Nazi Party) and  SS commanding officer of Einsatzkommando 2 of Group A.  Strauch was sentenced to death by hanging, handed over to Belgian authorities, and died on September 11, 1955.



September 28, 2018

SEPTEMBER 28 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 28

1938

Polish-Czechoslovakian Border Conflict:   On September 28, 1938, Edvard Beneš, President of Czechoslovakia prepared a note to the Polish government with the proposal of reopening discussions concerning the territorial demarcation in Těšínsko. However, he delayed in sending it as he hoped to receive good news from the British and French governments. Dissatisfied with their responses, Benes approached the Soviet government, which then threatened Poland with the dissolution of the Soviet-Polish non-aggression pact. In the meantime, Soviet troops had just begun a partial mobilisation in eastern Belarus and the Ukraine.   The border conflicts began in 1918 following the end of World War I, and the newly created nation-states of the Second Polish Republic and First Czechoslovak Republic. It wasn't until 1958 that the conflicts were resolved with a treaty between the two states.


The Oster Conspiracy of 1938 was a plan to overthrow Hitler and the Nazi regime if Germany went to war with Czechoslovakia over the Sudetenland. The conspiracy was the brainchild of Generalmajor Hans Oster, deputy head of the Abwehr who was backed by other high-ranking officials of the Wehrmacht. They opposed Hitlers regime for trying to bring Germany into a war which Germany was not prepared to fight.  Their plan was essentially a coup d'etat in which they would overthrow (arrest or assassinate) Hitler, and storm the Reich Chancellery thereby restoring Wilhelm II as Emperor. However the plot became irrelevant when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement with Hitler in which the Sudetenland was virtually handed to Hitler on a silver platter. Hitler was then praised in Germany as the "greatest statesman of all times at the moment of his greatest triumph".


1939

The Siege of Warsaw lasted until September 28, 1939 when Polish troops under the command of General Walerian Czuma, capitulated to the Germans. The next day about 140,000 Polish soldiers were taken as prisoners of war.  About 18,000 civilians were killed, and 10% of the city's buildings were completely destroyed, while another 40% were heavily damaged.    Poland was divided between Germany and the Soviet Union (Vilnius to Lithuania, Western Ukraine to Ukranian SSR, Western Byelorussia to Byelorussian SSR). On October 1, the Nazi Germans occupied Warsaw throughout the war until January 17, 1945, when the city was so-called "liberated" by the Soviet Red Army.  Before the capitulation, Polish garrisons scrambled to hide weapons and destroy their heavy armaments. The hidden cache of weapons would be used during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.  (Editors note:  Polish Greatness Blog featured a special series called Invasion of Poland Day by Day. You can follow it at your own pace by referring to the my blog post entitled  "September 1939 Invasion of Poland Day by Day: An Index")


The Massacre in Zakroczym was committed by German troops of the Panzer division Kempf on September 28, 1939.  The Germans stormed on Polish positions located at Zakroczym, just as the Polish soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division were about to surrender.   Hundreds of Polish soldiers as well as civilians were massacred, and many others were wounded and brutally beaten.  German units barged into homes, robbing the people and setting the houses on fire. They tossed grenades into the basements where civilians were hiding.  According to Kazimierz Szczerbatko's estimate, based on eyewitnesses reports, about 500 Polish soldiers and 100 civilians were killed. The Massacre was most likely an act of revenge for the loss of an entire infantry division during the Battle of Mlawa. The Germans had lost 72 of their tanks even though they used Polish civilians as human shields in front of their tanks.


The Battle of Szack was fought on September 28, 1939 which resulted in a tactical Polish victory over the Soviets. When the Soviet armies invaded Poland on September 17, the Polish Border Defence Corps was severely stripped of all its military reserves and materiel.  Polish forces had been deployed to the west to reinforce Polish units fighting the Nazi Germans (who had invaded Poland on September 1st)  On the morning of September 28 the Polish units were marching toward the town of Szack in two columns; the northern column advanced to the forests near the village of Mielniki while the southern column headed towards the forests east of Szack. According to Polish reconnaissance, Soviet tank units (T-26 tanks) occupied the town of Szack. The Polish commander ordered both columns to form a defensive line along the border of the forest and provoked the Red Army to attack. By 8:00 in the morning the Soviet tank units launched a direct assault on Polish positions but the Poles did not return fire. They were ordered to wait until the Soviet tanks came closer. When the tanks reached a distance of 500 metres from Polish lines, the Polish Bofors wz. 36 anti-tank guns opened fire,  along with 75 mm artillery from the Polish infantry.  All Soviet tanks were destroyed.


The German-Soviet Frontier Treaty was signed on September 28, 1939. It was a secret clause that was agreed upon by Hitler and Stalin after the joint invasion and occupation of the sovereign Polish Republic. It was signed by the foreign ministers of the Germany, Joachim von Ribbentrop and of Russia, Vyacheslav Molotov, and witnessed by Stalin. The treaty was only the first of a series of secret protocols attached to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939.  This secret agreement was not known to the public at the time as it remained highly classified.  Among its articles, it specified the "spheres of influence" of Poland, and stated that "Polish agitation" directed to either party of the treaty would not be tolerated.


1944

Allied Support Efforts:   Since August 4,1944 allied aircraft had dropped a total of 370 tons over Warsaw to supply weapons to the Polish insurgents. The operations were a failure as at least 50 % of the supplies fell into German hands.  About 360 airmen, and 41 Allied aircraft (British, Polish, South African and American) were lost.  Due to Stalin's refusal to grant landing rights in Russia, allied planes had to operate over long distances from bases in Italy and Britain. Consequently, payload had to be reduced, and the number of sorties drastically limited.   The meager supplies retrieved by the Polish insurgents were insufficient to sustain the Polish resistance and by October 2, 1944, Warsaw was overrun by Nazi troops.   



September 27, 2018

SEPTEMBER 27 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER

1605

The Battle of Kircholm was one of the major battles of the Polish-Swedish War, fought on September 27, 1605. The Polish Winged Hussars, a powerful shock force of the cavalry of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth numbered only 3,600 men, faced the imposing armies of Charles IX of Sweden whose forces numbered 10,868 men, and 11 cannons, and had the backing of thousands of German and Dutch mercenaries and several hundred Scots. Despite the overwhelming numbers, the Polish Hussars won the battle in virtually 20 minutes of fighting, forcing the Swedish cavalry to retreat. Polish casualties were 100 killed and 200 wounded. The Swedish contingent casualties were 7,600 to 8,000 killed, captured and disbursed. The Hussars earned a reputation for being invincible warriors, and ruled the battlefields of Europe for over 200 years.


1939

The Battle of Władypol was fought by Polish armed forces against the Soviets during the joint-invasion of  Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The Polish 26th Cavalry Regiment succeeded in repelling the Soviet cavalry and tank units. And a larger Soviet force approaching the area of Chliple was stopped by the forces of the 25th Polish Cavalry and the 9th Mounted Artillery Regiment. Subsequently, the Polish force captured Chliple and resisted Soviet attacks just long enough for the rest of the column to pass further south. But the Polish artillery units ran out of ammunition, and had to destroy their guns or have them fall into enemy hands.  Polish forces were ordered by General Anders to disperse and try to break through Soviet units, however during the chaotic withdrawal, about 1,500 Polish troops were captured by the Soviets.


The first Polish resistance movement, the Service for Poland's Victory (SZP) was created by the order of General Juliusz Rómmel when the siege of Warsaw was nearing its end.  Its mission was the continuation of armed struggle to liberate Poland along the pre-war borders of the Second Polish Republic, the recreation and reorganization of the Polish army and the establishment of the secret Polish State, the underground government.  In November 1939, the SZP was renamed Union of Armed Struggle (ZWZ).


1940

The Tripartite Pact was a military alliance signed in Berlin on September 27, 1940 between Germany, Italy and Japan. The agreement also known as the Berlin Pact was eventually joined by Hungary on November 20, 1940;  by Romania  on November 23, 1940; by Slovakia (the German client state) on November 24, 1940; by Bulgaria on March 1, 1941 and by Yugoslavia on March 25, 1941.  Yugoslavia's accession provoked a coup d'état in Belgrade shortly thereafter. Italy and Germany then responded by invading Yugoslavia and partitioning the country. As a result, the client state became known as the Independent State of Croatia which signed the pact the pact on June 15, 1941.


1942

The Provisional Committee to Aid Jews, founded by Zofia Kossak-Szczucka and Wanda Krahelska-Filipowicz, consisted of Polish democratic Catholic activists associated with the Front Odrodzenia Polski, the Polska Organizacja Demokratyczna, the Związek Syndykalistów Polskich and the PPS-WRN.  The Committee was financed partly by the Department of Social Services of the Polish Government In Exile. Soon after its inception, it was able to provide assistance to about 180 persons within a very short time. It was the direct predecessor to Żegota, the underground Council to Aid Jews.  The Provisional Committee was the first official institution in modern Polish history in which Polish and Jewish organizations worked together in an atmosphere of mutual trust and goodwill.  The organizations that participated represented a wide cross section of political and socioeconomic platforms. One of its vice-presidents was a member of Bund, Leon Feiner, and its secretary was Adolf Berman, who represented Zionist organizations. Among its Polish members was Professor Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, who was famous for co-founding Zegota, and for having served as Polands Minister of Foreign Affairs through most of 1995.


1944

Soviet Air Drops over Warsaw.  From September 27 to 28, 1944, the Soviet Union flew air drop missions over Warsaw, dropping about a total of 130 tons of supplies and weapons, but initially the cargo was dropped from the planes without parachutes resulting in total destruction or damage of materiels.  In an appeal to help Warsaw, Churchill telephoned the United States Strategic Air Forces in Europe to request a second drop mission to Warsaw, in response to the urgent appeals by the Polish Prime Minister in Exile, Stanislaw Mikolajczyk.  President Roosevelt even made the same request, however Stalin ignored these appeals, formally refused on October 2, 1944.



September 26, 2018

SEPTEMBER 26 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 26

1908

Bezdany raid by Polish revolutionaries:  The Bezdany raid was a train robbery on a Russian Empire passenger train near Bezdany near Vilna, and was considered the most daring and successful train robberies in Eastern Europe. The robbery was led Jozef Pilsudski, Poland's future national hero and dictator. The robbery garnered about 200,000 Russian rubles, which under the gold standard would be equivalent to 5,000 ounces of gold  ( in 1908 it would have been valued at $100,000; or , in 2012, would be valued at 8 million dollars, a veritable fortune in contemporary times.)  Pilsudski intended to use those funds to finance his secret military organization, though originally it was earmarked for the construction of a tram system in Vilnius. 


1938

In the midst of the Sudetenland crisis, Hitler made the speech in Berlin announcing that he had assured the British Prime Minister that when the Czechoslovakian problem had been settled, that there would be no more territorial demands by Germany in Europe.  (However, an OKW directive had later been issued to German forces (on November 24, 1938 ) ordering them to prepare for an attack on the Free City of Danzig. The directive read as follows: " The fuehrer has ordered (that) preparations are also to be made to enable the Free State of Danzig to be occupied by German troops by surprise"


1939

The French Communist Party was banned.  After its declaration of war on Germany, the French Government denounced the French Communist Party (PCF). Initially, the PCF confirmed its commitment to national defense, but changed its position after Comintern announced that the declaration of war was considered "imperialist".  Subsequently officials of the PCF signed a petition calling for peace, and expounded favorably of Hitler's peace proposals. The French government issued a decree that the manifestation of any communist propaganda would be punishable by the death penalty.  The Comintern ordered the PCF leadership to evacuate to Belgium,  while Maurice Thorez (leader of PCF) escaped to Moscow to evade prosecution.  All Communist-led local parties and organizations were dissolved,  communist trade unionists were suppressed, as well as communist newspapers. The PCF continued to exist albeit as an underground organization.


1942

Nazi Memorandum:  The August Frank memorandum was issued on September 26, 1942 by August Frank, SS Lieutenant General of the SS concentration camp administrative department  (SS-WVHA). It outlined detailed plans to carry out the "Final Solution", that is the extermination of the Jewish people, and the systematic confiscation of every item in their possession, including cash, jewelry,furs, gold teeth, watches, fountain pens, razors, scissors, flashlights, wallets, purses, clothing, underwear, footwear (of men, women and children), blankets, umbrellas, walking sticks, glasses, mirrors, belts, forks, knives, spoons, suitcases, combs, bed sheets, towels, and lastly - hair, which was shaved off the Jewish victims before they were gassed to death. The August Frank Memorandum, translated to English, was used as evidence during the Nuremberg Military Tribunal in the Trials of War Criminals.  Despite the evidence, Frank claimed that he had no knowledge that the Jews were being mass murdered.  He was tried and convicted of crimes against humanity. On November  3,1947 he was sentenced to life in prison by the tribunal which made the following declaration:  "...August Frank: this Tribunal has adjudged you guilty under counts two, three, and four of the indictment filed in this case. For the crimes of which you have thus been convicted, this Tribunal sentences you to imprisonment for the remainder of your natural life, at such place of confinement as shall be determined by competent authority...."  But in 1951 his sentence was commuted to 15 years.  The tribunal decided that Frank was criminally responsible for the slave labor program and the looting of Jewish property, but not liable for the murders of the Jews.  He died in Germany in 1984.


1944

Germans recaptured Mokotow district.  In the early morning, the Germans continued a massive assault on all fronts throughout Warsaw. (The previous day was the heaviest bombardment by the Germans backed with artillery and 1,200 aircraft. The Poles referred to it as Black Monday. ) On this day western parts of the city were attacked by five German divisions of the 10th, 18th, 19th, 31st and 46th while four German divisions of the 11th, 32nd, 61st and 217th attacked the eastern parts of the city. There were 70 batteries of field artillery, 80 batteries of heavy artillery and two entire air fleets (1st and 4th). Warsaw was bombarded relentlessly resulting in very high civilian casualties.  On September 26, 1944, the Germans captured the Forts of Mokotów, Dąbrowski and Czerniaków.  On the same day, Juliusz Rommel, Polish Army General, began capitulation talks with the German commander. On September 28, at 12:00 they signed an agreement for a cease-fire. Warsaw officially capitulated. Despite this outcome, some Polish units refused to lay down their arms and cease fire, though they were personally commanded to do so by Polish Generals Czuma and Rommel.


September 25, 2018

SEPTEMBER 25 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 25

1939

Massive German Bombing:   At 0800 hours on September 25, 1939, heavy German bombers under the command of Major Wolfram von Richthofen launched the largest bombing ever seen. A total of 560 tons of high explosive bombs and 72 tons of incendiary bombs were dropped on Warsaw, in conjunction with heavy artillery shelling.  The destruction of the center of Warsaw was devastating. The Luftwaffe made about 1,150 sorties in a variety of aircraft, including obsolescent Junkers Ju-52/3m bombers, which dropped 13 percent of the incendiary bombs dropped on one day. Only two Ju-52 bombers were lost. (Polish history refers to this massive bombing as Black Monday.)


1942

RAF Bombing of Gestapo Headquarters.  The British raid called the Oslo Mosquito raid targeted the Gestapo headquarters located in the Victoria Terrasse building in Oslo.  It was carried out by four of the new de Havilland Mosquito aircraft  by No. 105 Squadron. The bombers crossed the North Sea at altitudes of lower than 100 ft in order to evade detection by enemy aircraft. Despite this attempt, they were intercepted by two Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighters, causing one of the Allied planes to land.   Each aircraft was armed with four 500 lb bombs with 11 second delayed action fuses. This posed a dangerous situation because at a low level attack the bombs could damage the aircraft that dropped them.  At least four bombs were dropped on the Gestapo HQ however one failed to detonate, while the other three crashed through the opposite wall before exploding. Civilian casualties were 80 killed or injured. (Though the mission did not achieve its main objective, it revealed the existence of the Mosquito plane to the enemy. It went into production in 1941, and by mid-1942 to mid-1943, Mosquito bombers flew high-speed, medium or low-altitude daylight missions against military and industrial targets of German-occupied Europe. By June 1943, Mosquito bombers became the Light Night Strike Force and used as pathfinders for RAF Bomber Command heavy-bomber raids. They also dropped Blockbuster bombs, facetiously nicknamed "cookies" - the bombs weighed 4,000 lb (1,812 kg).  German fighters were powerless to intercept them.)


1944

Operation Market Garden Ended on September 25, 1944 with the failure of the allied mission to cross the Rhine. Now the British troops were trapped in German-occupied territory north of the Lower Rhine in the Netherlands. Operation Berlin was put into immediate action for a night time evacuation of the remaining allied forces before they became encircled by enemy forces. The mission was achieved successfully with the rescue of about 2,400 men of the British Division.


Events during the Warsaw Uprising:  The Nazi Germans sent two captured Polish soldiers of Armia Krajowa (Home Army) to ask that Polish insurgents capitulate and hand over the Mokotow district.  No reply was given. The Germans murdered the injured and staff of hospitals located at 17 Czeczota and Lenartowicza streets in Warsaw.  During the night Polish soldiers, the Delegatura, and civilians withdrew from the Mokotow district by descending underground via the sewers and made their way to the safer area of Srodmiesie district.  Lieutenant Eugeniusz "Brok" Lokajski was killed in the ruins of 129 Marszalkowska Street.  He was a Champion of Poland in the javelin throw and gymnastics, and was at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, but was seriously injured in a training session. He placed 7th with a 66.36 m javelin throw. He was also the photographer of the Warsaw Uprising and took more than a thousand photos of the Uprising. One of his most memorable photos was taken of himself wearing a helmet and holding a little kitten. (The location was in the yard of a bombed out building at 124/128 Mraszalkowska St.(


1953

Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski was imprisoned.  The communist government of Poland arrested Cardinal Wyszynski on September 25, 1953, and imprisoned him at Rywałd. He was later placed under house arrest in Stoczek near Lidzbark Warmiński, in Prudnik near Opole, and in the Komańcza monastery in the Bieszczady Mountains.  At the start of 1953, the government ordered the widespread arrest of Polish priests and Bishops who supported the resistance against Soviet occupation.  The priests were subjected to staged "show trials", and imprisoned unjustly.  While incarcerated, Cardinal Wyszynski was a witness to many of the heinous tortures inflicted on his fellow inmates.


September 24, 2018

SEPTEMBER 24 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 24

1939

The Battle of Husynne took place on September 24, 1939 during the joint Nazi-Soviet Invasion of Poland. The Polish 14th Regiment of Jazlowiec Uhlans fought against the 8th Rifle Corps of the Red Army, in the area of Hysynne manor situated approximately seven kilometres (4.3 mi) north-east of the town of Hrubieszow.  Witold Radziulewicz, commander of the Polish regiment, broke through Soviet infantry forces, and continued heading south towards the border of Hungary and Romania.  Polish forces were reinforced by mounted police from Warsaw, a battalion of chemical defence troops totaling approximately 1,500 men, and armed with 36 81 mm wz. 31 mortars under the command of Capt. Józef Cwynar. The Soviets launched an assault on the Polish units and 400 Polish policemen responded with a counter-charge supported by mortar battery, forcing the Soviets to make a hasty retreat.  However, not long afterwards Soviet tanks appeared, firing upon the Polish regiment. Polish units were surrounded and forced to surrender. Polish casualties were 18 killed and 139 wounded, and about 25 POWs murdered. 


1941

Atlantic Charter:  A meeting was held by the Inter-Allied Council in London attended by representatives from the Soviet Union, Free France, the governments-in-exile of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Yugoslavia who unanimously affirmed the principles established by the Atlantic Charter.  The Charter defined the allied goals for post-war world which specified the following:  no territorial aggrandizement; no territorial changes made against the wishes of the people, self-determination; restoration of self-government to those deprived of it; reduction of trade restrictions; global cooperation to secure better economic and social conditions for all; freedom from fear and want; freedom of the seas; and abandonment of the use of force, as well as disarmament of aggressor nations. It was signed on January 1, 1942 and laid the basis for the modern United Nations.


September 23, 2018

SEPTEMBER 23 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 23

1922

Gdynia Seaport Construction Act was passed by the Polish parliament on September 23, 1922.   Due to the blockade of shipment of Polish arms, during the Polish-Soviet war, there was the urgent decision to establish a truly Polish port. (The Versailles Treaty which followed the end of WWI, declared Gdansk to be the Free City of Danzig, and over which the Second Republic of Poland was granted many rights and privileges in its administration.) By the 1930s the Gdynia Port had been developed where it could compete with other ports in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea.  The city of Gdynia was developed and by 1939 had a population of 125,000 Polish people.  Before the outbreak of World War Two, the port of  Gdynia was modern and fully functional and contributed greatly the Polish pre-war economy: Polish exports amounted to 80%.  After Germany invaded Poland in September,  the development of the port ceased and it became the base of the German Kriegsmarine and their most important center for the armaments industry of Nazi Germany.  Allied bombing raids of the port resulted in the destruction of 40% of the hydro-technical structures, 25% of storehouses. (75 % of the storehouses and 54% of quays and breakwaters were in need of repairs) The Germans dismantled over 30% of handling facilities and transported them to ports in Germany, and destroyed the remaining facilities. Viaducts on land were blown up, blocking access to the port.


1939

The Battle of Krasnobród was fought on September 23, 1939 between Polish armed forces and the German Wehrmacht near the town of Krasnobród, and resulted in a Polish victory. It was one of the many battles during the September Campaign, and one in both sides used cavalry forces. The Polish Uhlan Regiment under the command of Col. Bogdan Stachlewski had the mission of recapturing Krasnobród.  However the town was fortified by the German 8th Infantry Division positioned on a hill top along two lines of trenches.  Despite the numerical superiority of the Nazi Germans, Stachlewski conceived of a devious plan that called for his forces to be divided into two sectors, each of which launched a cavalry charge on the enemy at different sectors along the front......The first Polish squadron successfully broke through enemy positions, catching the Nazi Germans completely by surprise. It resulted in a frantic retreat by the Germans, pursued by the Polish cavalry using sabers and lances.  The second Polish squadron under the command of Lt. Tadeusz Gerlecki also participated in the cavalry charge. Though the German infantry division attempted to counter-charge, they were repelled by the Polish forces. Despite heavy enemy fire, the Polish units succeeded in entering the city, and pursued the fleeing Germans. The Poles captured about 100 German soldiers, and their commander General Rudolf Koch-Erpach (as well as freeing forty Polish soldiers that had been taken prisoner by the unit.) 


1943

Liquidation of Vilno Ghetto:  On September 23-24, 1943 the ghetto was liquidated under the command of Oberscharführer Bruno Kittel; the majority of the remaining residents were sent to the Vaivara concentration camp in Estonia, killed in the forest of Paneriai, or sent to the death camps in German-occupied Poland. (A week earlier, Karl Plagge, a staff officer of the German army, made arrangements to transport over 1,000 of his Jewish workers along with their families from the Vilna Ghetto to the HKP camp under his command, which provided maintenance and repair of Nazi German military vehicles. The treatment of the Jews working at HKP were relatively benign compared to the horrific conditions in which the ghetto Jews worked. Though Plagge was a member of the Nazi Party, he was sympathetic towards the Jewish plight, and provided the Jewish workers with extra food rations and hot meals, as well as clothing, medicine and firewood.) Though Plagge attempted to save as many Jews as possible, the SS murdered about 900 to 1,000 of the 1,250 of his workers. Only about 250 Jews of HKP managed to survive.


1944

Warsaw Uprising:   On the morning of September 16, 1944  two infantry divisions of General Berling's Army succeeded in crossing the Vistula to Czerniakow to reinforce Polish insurgents in the area. However it did little to assist in the defense of the town.  German units were also reinforced, and on September 23, were able to capture the two remaining buildings in Czerniakow.  On the same day a German report was submitted. The following is an excerpt:  ".... When the resistance at the last house in the southern encirclement in Warsaw was fought, 82 Polish legionaries, 57 soldiers of AK [...] were taken prisoners. Besides, there were 35 dead bodies. There is also a Polish woman among the prisoners-of-war, who was trained as a platoon commander in Ternopil"...." The Polish woman they referred to was a Polish Officer, Second Lieutenant Janina Blaszczak. In the period 1943-1944, she had enrolled in the military school at Ryazan, and completed her training at the top of her class. She became commander of the male mortar company and took part in the fighting at Czerniakow. She was wounded twice in battle and was captured by the Germans and transported to a prison hospital. Eventually she escaped with the help of Polish covert operatives of the Armia Krajowa (Polish Home Army, or AK).  Polish author, Henryk Baczko recounted the fighting in Czerniakow as follows: ".....They fought not only with bullets but also with butts and fists. Anyone who saw Second Lieutenant Blaszczak at that time, with fair hair flowing in the wind, leading her lads to counter-attack, or throwing grenades, will never forget this sight. It seemed as if a Greek goddess descended on the bank of the Vistula to defend the beautiful work of art....."


September 22, 2018

SEPTEMBER 22 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 22

1772

First Partition of Poland:  The partition treaty was ratified by Austria, Prussia and Russia.  As a result, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth lost about 30% of its territory and half of its population (four million people), though a large proportion were not ethnic Poles. By seizing northwestern Poland, Prussia instantly gained control over 80% of the Commonwealth's total foreign trade.  And by levying exorbitant customs duties, Prussia accelerated the economic collapse of the Commonwealth.  After the partition, the three powers demanded that King Stanislaw and the Sejm formally approve their action.  When there was no response, their combined armies invaded and occupied Warsaw and compelled the King by force to submit to their will.  The so-called "Partition Sejm" signed the treaty of secession on September 18, 1773 thereby renouncing all claims to the Commonwealth, and occupied territories. After the First Partition, Frederick II, King of Prussia, engaged in the plunder of Polish properties, confiscating Polish estates and monasteries to support German colonization. (1786 he ordered forced buy-outs of Polish holdings). Frederick II had 300,000 colonists settle on conquered territories and enforced Germanization on the Poles. He despised Polish citizens and boasted that he would "gradually...get rid of all Poles"


1939

The German–Soviet parade.  As Soviet troops were approaching the town of Brest-Litovsk they looked upon their German counterparts who were already looting the town. Apparently, the German troops made it to the city and established their headquarters there, ahead of the Soviets.  Nazi German officials greeted the Soviet general and his "glorious Red Army". After a brief exchange of greetings, the Soviet and Nazi General met to discuss a joint parade through the town, including a lineup of soldiers from both armies in the main square.  The parade began at 16:00 and the "Victory Arches" were constructed and decorated with swastikas and red stars and through which German troops marched while the first unit of the Red Army, the 4th Battalion of 29th Light Tank Brigade rolled into the city. The Soviet and German generals praised each other for their victories over Polish armed forces.


German General was assassinated by Polish Resistance.  During the Siege of Warsaw, following the Invasion of Poland by Germany,  Werner von Fritsch,  a German General was assassinated by the Polish Resistance, while inspecting troops occupying the district of Praga, in Warsaw.  The shot tore through an artery in Fritsch's leg resulting in a swift death.  The Germans erected a memorial in the spot where he died, and which was demolished by the Poles during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Fritsch was the second German general to be killed World War II—the first being SS commander Wilhelm Fritz von Roettig on September 10, 1939 near Opoczno.


1942

Liquidation of Czestochowa Ghetto:  During Operation Reinhard, the Nazis began liquidating the ghetto the day after Yom Kippur.  The first wave of deportations concluded on the night of 7 October. The action was carried out by German units together with their Ukrainian and Latvian auxiliaries (Hiwis), known as Trawniki men, under the command of captain of the Schupo police, Paul Degenhardt. Every day, the Jews were being assembled on Daszyński square for "resettlement" and then transported by the Holocaust freight trains – men, women and children – to Treblinka extermination camp: around 40,000 victims in total. (Note: Operation Reinhard was the code name given to the secret German Nazi plan to exterminate the majority of Polish Jews in the General Government district of German-occupied Poland)


2014

Ewa Kopacz became Prime Minister of Poland, succeeding Donald Tusk. She was sworn into office on September 22, 2014 and was the second woman to hold that post after Hanna Suchocka.  In her first major policy speech as Prime Minister, Kopacz promised more continuity in Poland’s foreign policy. She stated that the Polish government would not tolerate a break-up of neighboring Ukraine and was committed to negotiating for an increase in U.S. military presence in Poland as a deterrent to Russian aggression. Following the EU summit of October 2014, Kopacz declared that 2015 would be the year that Poland improves its air quality, and imposed harsher laws on pollution from vehicles, and coal and wood burning stoves. In the 2015 national elections, Kopacz won 230,894 votes, the highest results, and received a mandate deputy of parliament VIII term. Unfortunately, her party lost the elections and in accordance with the Polish Constitution,and  had to resign her position along with all other members of her cabinet. Her successor, Beata Szydlo was sworn in on November 16, 2015. 


September 21, 2018

SEPTEMBER 21 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 21

1939

Nazi German Einsatzgruppen was formed.  On September 21, 1939, Himmler instructed Heydrich to form the Einsatzgruppen (a Nazi German task force) that would accompany German armies and implement directives concerning the "Jewish question in the occupied territory".  Their orders were to round up Jewish people for imprisonment into ghettos, the formation of numerous Judenrat (Jewish councils within the ghettos), conduct census, and promotion of Aryanization plans for Jewish-owned businesses and farms, among many other edicts.  Later, in the Soviet Union, the Einsatzgruppen units also conducted the execution of Jews by firing squad, and by gas vans. The Einsatzgruppen systematically hunted down and murdered Poland's intelligentsia and cultural elite, as well as implemented the "Final Solution", ie the extermination of the Jews.


President Franklin Roosevelt addressed United States Congress appealing for an amendment to the U.S. Neutrality Acts that would allow countries fighting Germany to purchase American arms.  He added that the Acts were enabling "aid to an aggressor" while denying assistance to allies. Roosevelt wanted to loosen the embargo, and after tough resistance from Congress, the Neutrality Act of 1939 was passed (on November 4). It allowed for arms trade with so-called "belligerent nations" (Great Britain and France) on a cash-and-carry basis, in effect ending the arms embargo.  Several Neutrality Acts were passed by the U.S. Congress in the 1930s, in the midst of increasing instability in Europe and Asia, leading to World War Two.( The Acts were the result of rising sentiment of isolationism and strong opposition following U.S. involvement in World War One, and was an attempt to ensure that the U.S. would stay out of foreign conflicts.)


The Battle of Grodno began on September 21, 1939 after Soviet forces had invaded Poland's eastern frontier.  Eastern Poland was virtually undefended because a large sector of Polish troops had been mobilized to the western front battling against the Nazi German invasion.  As the Soviet 15th Tank Corps advanced rapidly towards the city of Grodno,  the city mayor, Roman Sawicki, and General Jozef Olszyna-Wilczynski began coordinating a defence with which comprised largely of march battalions and police forces, as well as volunteers and scouts.  The military garrison was not prepared for a Soviet invasion and lacked sufficient number of troops as well as ammunition, though members of the Wołkowysk Cavalry Brigade joined the battle under the command of Brigadier General Wacław Przeździecki. There was no anti-tank artillery, and the city fighters had to use small weapons and resort to anti-tank barricades as well as bottles of gasoline or turpentine.  Despite overwhelming numbers of Soviet troops, the Polish defenders had two advantages on their side: that many of the Soviet tanks literally came to a sudden halt due to lack of infantry support as well as fuel; and Soviet tank crews were completely inexperienced in urban warfare.  Initially, the Polish defenders succeeded in repelling the Soviet assault on the city.  Fighting was very heavy over the next few days, and much of the city was destroyed by Soviet artillery.  The battle ended in a Soviet victory when Polish troops were withdrawn towards the Lithuanian border. After the battle, the Soviets murdered about 300 Polish defenders of Grodno.


1944

Operation Market Garden:  The Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade under the command of Major-General Stanislaw Sosabowski entered the battle on September 21, 1944.  Polish troops were transported on 114 C-47s of the U.S. 61st and 314th Troop Carrier Groups. Two of the brigade's three battalions were dropped amidst heavy German fire, opposite the 1st Airborne Division's position on a new drop zone south of the Rhine near the village of Driel. The third battalion was dropped 12–15 miles away near Grave. Overall, the poor coordination by the British air transfer officers and persistent attacks by Luftwaffe aircraft caused their supplies to be dropped 15 km (9.3 mi) away on the opposite side of the Rhine. The Poles intended to use the ferry to reinforce the 1st Airborne division, but the plan had to be shelved due to enemy troops positioned at the opposite side of the river, and the fact that the ferry was missing. (It was later found downstream in a state of disrepair.)  The Poles made numerous attempts to cross the Rhine on improvised equipment under very heavy German fire. Consequently Polish troops had to withdraw to Driel to plan their defence while German units were building up strength around them. Polish casualties were about 590, which represented about 25 % of its total strength.  This tragedy was the result of the decision of British Lieutenant-General Browning to drop the Polish paratroops 7 kilometers from the bridge at Arnhem.   General Sosabowski attempted to divert this impending disaster by warning British command of their flawed strategy but Browning ignored the dire warnings. He refused to listen, and made Sosabowski a scapegoat of the debacle. Sosabowski later endured a swift and humiliating dismissal from his command.


Allied Air Drops During Warsaw Uprising:   From August 4 the Western Allies flew airdrop missions over Warsaw during the Uprising, supplying Polish insurgents with munitions and weapons.  The major part of flights were carried out by the 1586 Polish Flight of the PAF stationed in Bari and Brindisi,  flying Liberators, Halifaxes and Dakotas. Later, at the urging of the Polish Government-in-Exile they were joined by the Liberators of 2 Wing - 31 and 34 Squadrons of the SAAF based at Foggia in Southern Italy, and Halifaxes, flown by 148 and 178 Squadrons of the RAF. From August 4 to September 21, 1944, the allies dropped a total of 104 tons of supplies over Warsaw.  (Stalin did not give the Allies permission to use Russian airports for supply operations, therefore the planes were forced to use bases in the UK and Italy, which drastically reduced their carrying weight and number of sorties. Stalin referred to the Polish fighters as  "a handful of criminals".)


Germans Bombed Water Supply.   As the Uprising continued, another serious problem arose for the Polish people (civilians and soldiers) was the shortage of water. By mid-August many of the water conduits were either out of order, or in the control of the Germans. To prevent the spread of epidemics and provide the people with water, Polish authorities supervised the construction of water wells throughout the city.  But on September 21st, the Germans blew up the remaining pumping stations, located at Koszykowa Street.  The only available potable source of water were public wells. Nevertheless, by the end of September there were more than 90 functioning wells in the center of Warsaw.


1997

Parliamentary elections. In the Sejm elections, 47.93% of citizens cast their votes, 96.12% of which were counted as valid. In the Senate elections, 46.92% of citizens cast their votes, 97.82% of which were valid.  The Solidarity Electoral Action party (liberal-conservative) won the election, and formed a coalition with the Freedom Union Party (liberal).  The results of the vote for Solidarity Electoral Action were: Sejm 33.8%, Senate 49.2% of the vote. And the results for the Freedom Union Party were:  Sejm 13.4%, Senate 22.1% (while the Democratic Left Alliance had the following results: Sejm 27.1%, Senate 45.7%)


September 20, 2018

SEPTEMBER 20 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 20 

1939

German and Soviet forces meet near Brest-Litovsk.  On September 20, 1939, Soviet advance units of the 29th Tank Brigade under the command of Kombrig Semyon Krivoshein, encountered the XIX Corps under the command of Guderian at the village of Widomla ( Belarus today). According to Krivoshein, a group of twelve German officers approached him explaining that they were also advancing in the direction of Brest-Litovsk. Apparently they raised a toast to each other over the quick victory over "capitalist England".


German submarine U-27 was sunk by British destroyers west of Scotland.  British destroyers HMS Fortune and HMS Faulknor teamed up to hunt down and sink the U-boat that was attacking allied trawlers. On September 20, 1939,  the enemy sub fired three torpedoes at the warships, but missed because they exploded prematurely. The British vessels responded with a series of depth charge attacks, one of which damaged the German submarine sufficiently to force it to the surface.  Though the HMS Fortune was prepared to ram the vessel, it was halted as U-27 was surrendering and all 38 crewmen were taken prisoner. U-27 became the second German submarine to be sunk in World War II (after U-39 was sunk on September 14, 1939)


1940

The Creation of the famous Polish Ciechociemni:  The Polish Commander-in-Chief, General Władysław Sikorski, gave the order for the creation of  Section III, a special covert branch of the Polish Army in Exile.  It's objective was for the planning and execution of covert operations in Nazi occupied Poland, the air delivery of arms and supplies, and training of paratroops.  They conducted covert operations thoroughout Europe, as well as participated in the Warsaw Uprising.  Immediately after, Polish command began recruiting volunteers.  Of a total of 2,413 candidates, only 605 were able to successfully complete the rigorous training and pass all the tests, and of those,  579 qualified for airlift.  The volunteers included 1 general, 112 staff officers, 894 officers, 592 NCOs, 771 privates, 15 women, and 28 civilian emissaries of the Polish Government in Exile. Two of the Polish women on the team of Ciechociemni were Krystyna Skarbek, and Elzbieta Zawacka. (see Polish Greatness Blog, "Secret Polish Forces of WW2: The"Silent and Dark Ones" PART III FAMOUS CICHOCIEMNI"


1943

Operation Source was a British plan, spearheaded on September 20, 1943, with the objective of attacking the heavy German battleship Tirpitz. In January of 1942, Hitler had ordered the Kriegsmarine to be stationed in Norway in order to attack allied convoys transporting supplies from Ireland to the USSR. The Tirpitz also posed a threat to the British ships in the area.  The RAF attempted several air strikes against the German war ship but failed to make any hits.  Another attempt was made by the RAF in March 1942 in which dozens of bombers were deployed, reinforced by cruisers, pocket battleships and destroyers, followed by sporadic attacks in October of 1942, none of which were successful. But on September 22, 1943, two British midget submarines dropped charges underneath the Tirpitz, but could not get away in time before being spotted by and fired upon by the enemy warship. The crewmen abandoned the subs and were captured by the Germans.  The Tirpitz was heavily damaged, but was not in danger of sinking.  She incurred heavy mechanical damage, and took on over 1,400 tons of water. It flooded the fuel tanks and void spaces in the double bottom of the port side, resulting in a list of one to two degrees.  Even though the Tirpitz could not be sunk, it was out of commission for repairs, which took until April 2, 1944 to complete.



September 19, 2018

SEPTEMBER 19 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 19

1657

Brandenburg & Poland signed Treaty of Wehlau.  The Treaty of Wehlau was agreement in which John Casimir, King of Poland renounced the suzerainty of the Polish crown over ducal Prussia and granted it to Frederick William (the duke of Prussia and elector of Brandenburg) making him the duchy’s sovereign ruler.  William wanted to acquire the duchy by his participation in the Polish-Swedish War of Succession (1600–60).  Initially he sided with Sweden,  but when he failed to achieve his goal, he entered into the Treaty of Wehlau with King Casimir.  According to the terms of the treaty, Frederick William promised to provide Poland with 6,000 troops from Brandenburg for use in the war against Sweden.  In return,  King Casimir recognized Frederick William and his heirs as sovereign rulers of ducal Prussia. The Treaty of Wehlau was subsequently confirmed by the Treaty of Oliva (1660), which concluded the Polish-Swedish War.


1921

Wojciech Antoni Rostafiński  (dob) code-named "Masłowski", was a Polish soldier in the Armia Krajowa (Polish Home Army) during World War II. In 1944 he fought in the Warsaw Uprising as a member of Szare Szeregi (Gray Ranks-Boy Scouts) "Rygiel" Group.  For his bravery during the Uprising, Rostafiński was awarded the Order of Virtuti Militari.  In 1953 Rostafiński moved to United States. He was manager of advanced research projects at NASA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. During his career, he contributed to the theory of aeronautics and applied mathematics, and his work is listed in the Scientific Citation Index.


1939

Hitler entered the former Free City of Danzig and gave a speech denouncing the Polish government and warning England that Germany would never capitulate even if the war lasted years. The following is a brief excerpt: "…..Britain ought to welcome the fact that Germany and Soviet Russia have come to an understanding, for this understanding means the elimination of that nightmare which kept British statesmen from sleeping because they were so concerned over the ambitions of the present [German] regime to conquer the world. It will calm you to learn that Germany does not, and did not, want to conquer the Ukraine........Germany has there limited but unalterable claims, and she will realize those claims one way or another. Germany and Russia will put in place the hotbed of conflict in the European situation which later will be valued only as a relaxation of tension. If the Western Powers now declare that this must not be, under any circumstances, and if especially England declares that she is determined to oppose this in a three- or five- or eight-year war, then I want to say something in reply:  Firstly, Germany, by extensive yielding and renunciation in the west and south of the Reich, has accepted definite boundaries. Germany tried by these renunciations to attain lasting pacification. And we believe we would have succeeded were it not that certain warmongers could be interested in disturbing the European peace.......


1940

Polish underground fighter Witold Pilecki deliberately went out during a Warsaw street roundup (łapanka) and allowed himself to be caught by the Nazi Germans, along with some 2,000 civilians (which included Władysław Bartoszewski). They were detained for two days in the Light Horse Guards Barracks, and suffered beatings with rubber truncheons.  Pilecki was sent to Auschwitz and was assigned inmate number 4859.  During his imprisonment there he organized the underground Union of Military Organizations (ZOW), which merged with many of the smaller underground organizations already formed at the Camp.   ZOW's objectives were to improve inmate morale, provide news from outside, distribute extra food and clothing to members, set up intelligence networks and train detachments to take over the camp in the event of a relief attack by the Home Army, or arms airdrops or an airborne landing by the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade. ZOW was an invaluable organization which provided the Polish underground and the Polish Government In Exile with information about the camp operations.


1941

Nazis Germans captured Kiev.  The First Battle of Kiev was part of Operation Barbarossa which lasted from August 7 to September 26, 1941 and resulted in a large-scale encirclement by the Nazi Germans of Soviet troops in the vicinity of Kiev. The encirclement was the largest one of its kind in the history of warfare.  Much of the Southwestern Front of the Red Army was encircled though small groups of Soviet troops were able to escape the cauldron. The battle was an unprecedented defeat for the Red Army, and surpassed even that of the Battle of Białystok-Minsk (June–July 1941). The encirclement trapped 452,700 Soviet soldiers, 2,642 guns and mortars and 64 tanks.  By October 2, about 15,000 escaped from the encirclement. The Southwestern Front casualties were 616,304 killed or captured, and 84,240 wounded or missing during the battle. The 40th Army suffered many losses, while the 5th, 37th, 26th, 21st and the 38th armies, consisting of 43 divisions, were annihilated.


1942

During the previous two days, September 17/18, 1942, nearly 3,000 ethnic Polish men and women were caught and rounded up by the Nazi Germans, in random massive round-ups (Polish: lapanka) throughout Warsaw. The Poles were then transported by the train-loads to Germany as slave labor. Many Poles were taken as hostages in reprisal, while most were sent to concentration camps, or summarily executed.


1944

Warsaw Uprising.  On the night of September 19, when no further crossings from the other side of the river could be made, and the promised evacuation of wounded did not take place, units of Armia Krajowa, (Polish Home Army soldiers) and landed elements of the 1st Polish Army were forced to begin a retreat from their positions on the bank of the river. Out of approximately 900 men who made it ashore only a handful made it back to the eastern shore of the Vistula. Berling's Polish Army losses in the attempt to aid the Uprising were 5,660 killed, missing or wounded. From this point on, the Warsaw Uprising can be seen as a one-sided war of attrition or, alternatively, as a fight for acceptable terms of surrender.


1993

Parliamentary elections. Parliamentary elections were held in Poland on September 19, 1993 for the Sejm (Parliament) and the Senate. Roughly 52% of Polish citizens cast their votes, and 95.7% votes in the Sejm elections were confirmed as valid, while 97.07% in the Sentate eletions were confirmed as valid.  The elections were won by the Democratic Left Alliance ( 20.4% of the Sejm;  35.7% of the Sentate) and the Polish People's Party  (15.4% of the Sejm;  23.2% of the Senate). Both left-wing parties formed a coalition. (Votes for Solidarity: 4.9% Sejm;  19.2% Senate)


September 18, 2018

SEPTEMBER 18 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 18

1454

Battle of Chojnice (1454) was fought between Poland and the Teutonic Knights during the Thirteen Years' War. The Teutonic army consisted of about 9,000 cavalry and 6,000 infantry under the command of Bernhard von Zinnenberg, while the Polish army had 16,000 cavalry, and over 3,000 infantry troops as well as about 2,000 mercenaries hired by the Prussian Confederacy, all of which were under the command of the Polish King, Casimir IV.   At the outset, the Polish cavalry succeeded in breaking through the Teutonic lines, killed Duke Rudolf of Sagan and captured Zinnenberg.  The Teutonic cavalry tried to break through the Polish lines but were met with strong Polish defense. But unexpectedly Zinnenberg managed to escape and led the pursuit attacking the Polish troops.  When it was all over about 3,000 Polish men died in battle, and 300 were captured by the Teutonic Knights.


1587

Sigismund III Vasa was King of Poland and of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Grand Duke of Lithuania on September 18, 1587.  Sigismund was elected to the throne, and sought to establish a union between the Commonwealth and Sweden. He did achieve this goal in 1592.  Seven years later, after he was deposed from the Swedish throne by his uncle, Charles IX of Sweden, he spent much of the rest of his life attempting to reclaim it.  During his quasi-45 year rule, Sigismund was subjected to criticism in Poland for his unsuccessful decisions that negatively affected the diplomatic and financial situation of the country.  But he was also widely praised, in particular by nationalists, for the capture of Moscow, and for obtaining new territories which greatly expanded the Commonwealth to the largest country in Europe during the 16th and 17th century. But the Golden Age of the Commonwealth would end with its final partition in 1795.  For the next 123 years, Poland ceased to exist. Sigismund III is commemorated in Warsaw with Sigismund's Column, which was commissioned by his son and successor, Władysław IV.

1939

Battle of Tomaszów Lubelski which took place from September 18 to 20, 1939 near the town of Tomaszów Lubelski was fought between Polish Army Lublin and Army Krakow against German VIII Army Corps and XXII Panzer Corp.  Polish forces consisted of five infantry divisions 3rd, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 55th and included one of the largest Polish armored units of that time, the Warsaw Armoured Motorized Brigade, as well as the 1st Mountain Brigade and  Kraków Cavalry Brigade.  The Battle was the second largest fought during the Invasion of Poland (the largest was the Battle of Bzura) and also the largest tank battle of the September campaign. Polish troops attacked the town of Tomaszów on the morning of September 18 and by early afternoon half the town was under Polish control. But they were forced to withdraw after the German 4th Light Division struck Polish units. On the night of September 18-19, the Warsaw Brigade, supported by the 23rd and 55th infantry divisions, made a second attempt to capture Tomaszów in a surprise attack, but failed to achieve their objective.  They made a third attempt the next night, but the attempt was disorganized and chaotic and also failed.  Polish casualties of killed and wounded kept rising, and ammunition and food supplies were dwindling. Polish General Piskor decided to surrender.  After days of heavy fighting, Polish troops were reduced to 30-50% of their original strength (except for the Armoured Brigade). The Battle ended with a decisive German victory.  Army Krakow surrendered on September 20, 1939.  The Germans took 11,000 Polish soldiers as prisoners, while the remainder escaped into the forests. 


The Polish submarine Orzel made a daring escape to England after its crew overpowered two Estonian guards who interred them at Tallinn, in Estonia.  As the Orzel emerged in the North Sea, and after having followed a treacherous course around the Baltic coast near Denmark, the vessel was fired upon by British and German warships. She had no means to identify herself as the Estonians had confiscated all equipment, including the radio. She finally made landfall off the coast of Scotland 40 days after she sailed from Gdynia.


The Battle of Wilno was fought between Polish forces and the Soviets, which were invading Poland from the east.  On September 18 at approximately 17:00, Okulicz-Kozaryn received reports that Soviet forces were approaching from Oszmiana  (today, Ashmyany, Belarus). The first Soviet attack was repelled by Polish defenders though they were greatly outnumbered.  Polish troops took some bridges, with the objective of delaying the Soviet advance, but their tactic failed. Soviet troops continued their attack unabated, advanced into Wilno, captured the airfield and the city. By the next day, the Soviet armoured units were reinforced with infantry and cavalry. The Soviets transferred Wilno to the Lithuania authorities, according to the Soviet–Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty. Lithuanian troops entered the city on October 27 to 28, 1939. Polish troops surrendered, others had retreated towards the Lithuanian border or deeper into Poland


The Battle of Kobryń began on September 14, 1939, between the German XIX Panzer Corps of General Heinz Guderian and the improvised Polish 60th Infantry Division "Kobryn" of Colonel Adam Epler. The Polish commander received reports that German troops were advancing rapidly and he surmised that the Germans would advance on the towns of Brześć and Kobryń, as well as toward an important railway node located in the village of Żabinka.  The next day the German 3rd Armoured Division destroyed a column of the 9th reserve light artillery depot. By evening, Epler's forces spotted and bombarded by the Luftwaffe. The following day when the main force of the German XIX Corps arrived, the Polish 2nd Battalion of the 84th Infantry Regiment together with an armoured train organised an ambush and attacked the German.  After six hours of unrelenting combat, the Germans were forced to retreat suffering heavy casualties. The Polish troops were able to seize a significant number of guns and tanks, but due to lack of fuel had to destroy them, and retreat towards the main Polish defense lines. On September 17, 1939, German units tried to outflank the Poles but had to withdraw under heavy machine gun fire. At the same time, Soviet armies were invading Poland from the east. On September 18 the Germans captured Gubernia I and Gubernia II, but a counterattack from Poles at Kobryn forced the enemy to retreat.  The Germans were unable to capture Kobryn because of fierce Polish counterattacks, resulting in an impasse. With the impending invasion of the Soviets, Polish troops withdrew from Kobryn.


1944

Warsaw Uprising. Stalin decided to finally grant the United States Air force clearance to fly one mission to aid the Poles during the Warsaw Uprising.   A little over a hundred  B-17 Flying Fortresses flew in a daylight mission at high altitude accompanied by P-51 fighters.  They dropped 1,284 containers of supplies to the Polish insurgents but only 228 of the containers fell in Polish-controlled territories. The rest were captured by Nazi German troops. This was the only major US supply drop during the war that was permitted by the Soviets. Soviet commanders on the ground near Warsaw estimated that 96% of the supplies dropped by the Americans fell into German hands. From the Soviet perspective, the Americans were (unintentionally) supplying the Nazis instead of aiding the Polish resistance. Following this debacle, the Soviets refused permission for further American flights until September 30. But by the end of September, the weather was too unstable to allow any flights, and the Uprising was nearly over.


1993

Last Russian troops left Poland.  After 54 years of Russian occupation, the last remnants of Russian combat troops left Poland on this day.  Polish newspapers brandished headlines,"Gone!" and "Soviets Go Home!" It expressed the bitterness of the Polish people of living under Russian totalitarianism for decades, as well as elation of achieving freedom at last.  At a press conference leading up to the election the next day, then President Lech Walesa and Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka considered this Russian departure as a great success and that "historical justice is being accomplished". Furthermore, he stated that the Russian withdrawal heralded the end of "agony, humiliation and captivity." However, Walesa was alarmed that former communists were trying to run for political office, and were actually leading in the opinion polls. At a ceremony marking the Russian withdrawal, Walesa spoke about the communist legacy and used it as an attempt to disparage communist political candidates.


September 17, 2018

SEPTEMBER 17 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 17

1939

Soviet Union invaded Poland.   On September 17, 1939,  16 days after Germany invaded Poland from the west, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east.  The joint German-Soviet invasion of Poland was secretly agreed to in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which was signed on August 23,  1939. An overpowering number of Russian troops crossed Polish borders, approximately 466,000 to 800,000 soldiers in over 33 divisions, armed with 4,959 guns, 4,736 tanks, and 3,300 aircraft. Initially Polish forces clashed with the invading Russian armies resulting in heavy casualties.  Polish General Rydz-Śmigły ordered the Polish troops to fall back, and engage Russian troops in defence only.  The Red Army captured 230,000 Polish prisoners of war, and annexed the Poland's entire eastern region. From 1939 to 1941, in a wave of four phases, the Soviet regime deported over one million Poles to Russian gulags. The notorious NKVD secret police embarked on a reign of terror and murder of Polish military and civilians.  Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov told the Polish ambassador that "since the Polish Republic is no longer in existence" the Soviet would protect inhabitants of Byelorussia and the western Ukraine, whose territories were annexed and renamed the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, and the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.  Poland's President Ignacy Mościck and Prime Minister Felicjan Składkowski evacuated to Romania, with the general staff of the Polish government, and many of the Polish armed forces.  They refused to surrender or negotiate peace terms with either the Germans or the Soviets.


Royal Castle in Warsaw Bombed by Nazis.  On September 17, 1939, Warsaw's famed Royal Castle (Zamek Krolewski) was bombed by Nazi German artillery. The roof and the turrets were destroyed by fire, the ceiling of the Ballroom collapsed, resulting in the complete destruction of the priceless Bacciarelli's ceiling fresco, The Creation of the World.  However, other rooms were slightly damaged  After Warsaw was occupied by the Germans, Hitler ordered the castle to be demolished, but not before looting everything in sight - priceless masterpieces of art and sculpture, furniture, the marbled floors,  fireplaces, decorative moulds, and even the central heating and ventilation systems, which were all dismantled and shipped to Germany. After the defeat of the Polish insurgents during the Warsaw Uprising, the Germans blew up the Castle's walls.   Immediately after the end of the war, restoration of the Royal Castle began.  Every fragment was collected and assembled according to blueprints of the framework and rooms, and the painstaking restoration began.. (In 1980, the Royal Castle, as well as the Old Town were registered as a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.)


The Battle of Brześć Litewski ended in German victory.  On September 14, 1939,  77 German tanks of the 2nd Battalion of the 8th Panzer Regiment, part of 10th Panzer Division, reached the area of Brześć and attempted to capture the fortress but were repelled by Polish infantry and the 113th company of light tanks, consisting of 12 obsolete Renault FT tanks.  Though the Germans destroyed all the Polish tanks, the Poles succeeded in forcing them to retreat to their initial positions.  Later on the same day,  German artillery reinforcements arrived and launched very heavy bombing of both the fortress and the town.  By dawn about half of the town was captured by the Germans, while the other half was fiercely defended by the Polish infantry.  On September 16, the Germans launched their main assault in the early morning. Though the Polish troops had an ample supply of small arms ammunition and light arms, they were in very short supply of anti-tank weapons, and woefully insufficient artillery cover.  Even so, they succeeded again in repelling the German infantry, and the assault of German tanks was stopped by two Polish FT-17 tanks, successfully sealing the northern gate of the fortress. Despite heavy losses, the German 20th Motorized Division and 10th Armoured Division captured the northern part of the citadel. Meanwhile, the combined 3rd Armoured Division and 2nd Armoured Division comprising the XXII Armoured Corps entered the area.  Polish General Plisowski ordered part of the Polish forces to retreat and regroup to the other side of the river and southwards.  By the morning of September 17, the evacuation was completed when the last Polish unit crossed the bridge, and blew it up to hinder the Germans. An hour later elements of the German 76th infantry regiment entered the fortress. The Brest Fortress was then handed over to the Soviets by German troops, in accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.


German submarine sank British aircraft carrier.  The German submarine U-29 under the command of Captain Schuhart, attacked and sunk the British aircraft carrier HMS Courageous.During the night of September 17, 1939,  the Courageous was on patrol as part of a "hunter-killer" group, off the coast of Ireland. Two of her four escorting destroyers had been deployed to assist a merchant ship which was under attack. During this period of time, Courageous had been stalked for more than two hours by the German sub. When the Courageous turned into the wind to launch her aircraft, it exposed the ship right across the bow of the submarine, and at that moment, the U-29 fired three torpedoes. Before any aircraft could take off, two torpedoes struck the ship on her port side and knocked out all electrical power.  The aircraft carrier capsized and sank in 20 minutes  with the loss of 519 of her crew, including the captain.  The survivors were rescued by the Dutch ocean liner Veendam and the British freighter Collingworth.  For the next four hours, two escorting destroyers counterattacked the U-29, but the submarine escaped. Karl Donitz, Admiral of the Kriegsmarine, later remarked that the sinking of the Courageous was a "wonderful success" and the news spread throughout the Kriegsmarine with celebration.  Three days earlier an attempt was made by U-29 to sink the Ark Royal, but without success.


1942

The supreme political body of the Polish underground government in Nazi-occupied Poland, was the Delegatura which financed and sponsored Polish underground activities, including that of Zegota. Since 1942, the Delegatura granted Zegota close to 29 million zlotys (over $5 million in todays funds) for relief payments to thousands of Jewish families seeking refuge from Nazi concentration camps in Poland. On this day, the Delegatura (Civil Directorate of the Polish Underground)  published a leaflet with the following declaration:   " For nearly a year now, in addition to the tragedy of the Polish people, which is being slaughtered by the enemy, our country has been the scene of a terrible,  planned massacre of the Jews. This mass murder has no parallel in the annals of mankind; compared to it, the most infamous atrocities known to history pale into insignificance. Unable to act against this situation, we, in the name of the entire Polish people, protest the crime being perpetrated against the Jews; all political and public organizations join in this protest. "  The head of the Delegatura was a government representative who in 1944 was appointed deputy prime minister. Assisting him were three deputies, who were appointed ministers.  In order of succession the Delegatura were Cyril Ratajski, Jan Piekalkiewicz, Jan Jankowski, Stefan Korbonski, and Jerzy Braun.  In addition there were committees consisting of representatives of the four political parties on following the structure of the Polish Government In Exile in London.   (see June 12, 1980 and July 26, 1942)


1944

Operation Market Garden was an Allied military operation in the Netherlands and Germany. Allied air and land forces had succeeded in liberating the Dutch cities of Eindhoven and Nijmegen, but failed to maintain their positions in and around the city of Arnhem and its strategically important bridge.   The Operation was the largest airborne operation in history; it delivered over 34,600 men of the 101st, 82nd and 1st Airborne Divisions and the Polish Brigade; 14,589 troops landed by glider;  20,011 by parachute; and a massive deployment of 1,736 vehicles,  263 artillery pieces, 3,342 tons of ammunition, and other supplies were brought in by glider and parachute drop.


1980

Solidarnosc (Solidarity) movement was born. Solidarity was founded on September 17, 1980 by Lech Walesa, at the Lenin Shipyard, at Gdansk, Poland. It was the first independent trade union that challenged the Soviet led communist regime. The movement used civil resistance to advance the causes of workers' rights and democratic rights and freedoms.  In the attempt to extinguish the rising power of Solidarity, General Jaruzelski imposed  martial law which lasted from December 1981 to July 1983, and was followed by years of political repression.  By 1981  the membership of Solidarity had swelled to over 10 million people (which constituted one third of the total working-age population of Poland).  Throughout the years of struggle, Solidarity received significant financial support from Pope John Paul II and the United States totaling 50 million U.S. dollars.  Needless to say, the most powerful force behind Solidarity was the Pope's visits to Poland, which galvanized an entire nation to have faith, and to persevere towards the realization of freedom and independence.


September 16, 2018

SEPTEMBER 16 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 16

1668

Polish King Abdicated:  On September 16, 1668,  King John II Casimir of Poland abdicated his throne and resigned his crown. The following year he fled to France, which resolved to put a stop to a rebellion that was on the verge of a bloody civil war, under the command of Hetman Jerzy Sebastian Lubomirski. Apparently, the kings wife was in favor of the Duke of Enghien as successor to the throne. In his speech to the Sejm in 1661, he predicted that Poland would eventually be subjected to dismemberment by the Houses of Moscow, Brandenburg and Habsburg.  His prediction came true 100 years after his death.


1939

The Battle of Jaworów was fought between the Germans, and Polish troops of the Małopolska Army from September 14 to 16, 1939 near the town of Jaworów.  On September 15,  Polish forces from the 11th, 24th and 38th Infantry Divisions attacked German positions in the area between Mosciska and Sadowa Wisznia.  After battling throughout the night, Polish forces succeeded in breaking through to a large forest complex, which extended to the north and west of the town of Janów, and dominated the road between Przemyśl and Lwów.  The Poles destroyed a German battalion, taking them as prisoners, as well as capturing their heavy equipment. The day after the Battle, the Soviets invaded Poland from the east. and the town of Lwow was completely encircled by combined forces of Germany and Soviets.


German submarine sank British ship.   On September 16, 1939,  the Rudyard Kipling, a British trawler was captured by German submarine U-27, 40 miles west of Clare Island.  The Germans boarded the ship removing food and equipment, and forced the crew on lifeboats which were cast adrift. The Kipling was then sunk with scuttling charges. Several hours later the British crew were 5 nautical miles (9.3 km) off the coast of Ireland. Eventually they landed their lifeboats at Killybegs.


September 15, 2018

SEPTEMBER 15 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 15

1935

Legislative Elections:   On September 8, 1935, Poland held parliamentary elections, and Senate elections on September 15 in the same year. Both were held under the April Constitution which had previously been drawn up by the Sanation movement, so the election rules would be in their favor. The opposition boycotted the election in protest, and voter turnout was only 45.9%,  the lowest in the history of the Second Polish Republic  The Nonpartisan Bloc for Cooperation with the Government, the political power behind the Sanation movement, won 181 of the 206 seats in the Sejm and all 96 seats in the Senate.  The Bloc was affiliated with Jozef Pilsudski and his movement, which included major members such as Walery Slawek, Kazimierz Bartel, Jozef Beck, Adam Koc,  Leon Kozłowski, and others. (NB.  In 1993 then President Lech Wałęsa, founded a Nonpartisan Bloc for Support of Reforms, in Polish Bezpartyjny Blok Wspierania Reform, (which was also abbreviated "BBWR") Walesa intended to revive some of the traditions of the prewar "BBWR" and organize a parliamentary grouping explicitly supportive of his Presidency. This new "BBWR" did not prove to be successful.  In the 1993 elections it won only 5.41% of the vote.)


At the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party (NSDAP), the Reichstag held a special meeting to decree the Nuremberg Race Laws against the Jewish people.  They instituted the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour, which made it a criminal offense for Jews and Germans to marry or engage in extramarital intercourse. It also forbade the employment of German women under the age of 45 in Jewish households. The Reich also passed the Citizenship Law which declared only those of German or related blood to be recognized as Reich citizens. The remainder were classed as subjects of the state without rights of citizenship. German Jews were forbidden to practice many professions such as law or medicine, and were excluded from vocations such as journalism, teaching, radio, film, and even farming. Signs were placed in store windows, and public arenas and even pharmacists, "Jews not welcome". International reaction to these events was somewhat indifferent perhaps because people thought it was "just a phase". At the time, British Prime Minister Lloyd George publicly referred to Hitler as "a great man", and believed that Hitler was only rearming for defence and not for invasions. The British Prime Minister called Hitler, "the George Washington of Germany".


Rassenschande (translated: "Shame") was one of the Nazi laws that forbade sexual intercourse and marriage between non-Aryans and Germans, (the ban was directed not only to Jews, but Polish as well).   Despite this law, Polish women who were forced into slave labor were subjected to rampant sexual assault, rape, and abuse by their handlers, and by German farmers and workers, resulting in an exorbitant spike in the rate of unwanted births. The Nazis dealt with the situation by founding hundreds of  so-called "special homes" (in German: Ausländerkinder-Pflegestätte) in order to secretly exterminate these babies. 


1940

The Blitz Extinguished.  The Luftwaffe launched two major daylight attacks along the river Thames, targeting the docks and railway communications, causing extensive damage. The German strategy for air superiority was hinged on their expectation that by targeting the London docks, the RAF would be lured to defend the area, and be destroyed by German fighter planes. But the tide of war changed - RAF fighter planes succeeded in shooting down 56 German fighters, representing about 18 per cent of enemy bombers. The Germans attempted to switch to night-time bombing, but could not gain air superiority.  By September 19, 1940, Hitler realized his defeat, and cancelled his plans for Operation Sea Lion, the amphibious invasion of Britain. Despite this defeat, German planes continued sporadic attacks on London and other British cities until 1941.  However, the allies won the Battle of Britain.


1944

Warsaw Uprising:  Polish units from the eastern shore of the Vistula river attempted several more landings. From September 15 to 23, 1944, Polish insurgents suffered very heavy casualties in this operation, during which all their landing boats and military equipment were destroyed under German machine gun fire.  The promised assistance of the Red Army support was minimal to non-existent.  When the 1st Polish Army failed to link up with the Polish resistance, the Soviets responded with a marked reduction in artillery and air support.  At this juncture, Soviet supreme command relieved Polish General Berling from his duties, a decision which impeded an already beleagured Polish army. Moreover, Soviet plans were to postpone further landings "for at least 4 months".  Of about 900 Polish fighters who reached the other side of the shore only a handful made it back to the eastern shore of the Vistula.  Polish casualties were 5,660 (killed, missing or wounded)


September 14, 2018

SEPTEMBER 14 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 14

1939

Polish Abandoned Przemyśl.   The Battle of Przemysl was fought by Polish forces attempting to defend the town of Przemysl from German attacks. The Luftwaffe targeted the important military garrison repeatedly since the start of hostilities. By September 9th, an evacuation of the towns civil servants and para-military was ordered, but proceeded in a state of chaos as thousands more refugees, civilians as well as Polish soldiers, poured into the area while trying to escape from the western part of Poland.  On September 11, German 2nd Panzer Division reached the area of Przemyśl, in hot pursuit behind the Polish 10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade. Meanwhile the 4th Light Division attempted to capture the city by surprise but were repelled by ferocious Polish artillery fire. Despite this success, the military situation for the Poles began to worsen as motorized German units captured Dobromil, and were approaching Przemysl but failed to seize the city. On September 14, the Polish troops consisted of seven infantry battalions, a company of engineers, and six platoons of artillery, numbering several thousand soldiers altogether.  German forces consisted of 7th Infantry Division, and elements of 44th and 45th Infantry Divisions.  The Germans advanced towards the city and attempted to capture it in a frontal attack, but were again repelled by Polish machine gun and artillery fire power.  The main fighting took place in the village of Kruhel Maly, in the district of Przemysl but the Poles launched a counterattack with bayonets, and by evening the situation was under control. The German attacks in the northern area, also failed.  By the evening, Colonel J. Matuszek received an order from General Kazimierz Sosnkowski, commanding him to abandon Przemysl and advance eastwards to Lwow.  Polish units began blowing up bridges as they retreated towards Mosciska.  The next day the Germans entered Przemysl.


First U-Boat Sunk by Allies. On September 14, 1939, just 27 days after the German submarine U-39 began its first patrol it spotted the Ark Royal, a British aircraft carrier at Rockall Bank, northwest of Scotland, and attempted to sink her by firing two torpedoes.  The crew of the Ark Royal spotted the torpedo tracks and the Royal made a turn, reducing her cross-section, and avoided the torpedoes, which fired short of their target.  Immediately afterwards, three British destroyers, the HMS Faulknor, the Firedrake, and the Foxhound, pursed the U-39 and all three destroyers launched depth charges until the U-39 surfaced.  All crew were rescued and taken ashore in Scotland where they were interned in POW camps for the remainder of the war, and in the Tower of London. They were later sent to Canada.


1944

Polish and Soviet forces occupied Warsaw’s eastern bank. From the outset of the Warsaw Uprising, the Poles established control of much of central Warsaw, amid an overpowering German onslaught. Soviet troops did not advance past the city outer limits, and refrained from maintaining radio contact with the Polish insurgents.  The Poles fought alone. On September 13, the Germans had destroyed the remaining bridges over the Vistula, which indicated that they were abandoning all their positions east of the river. In the Praga area, Polish units under the command of General Zygmunt Berling fought on the Soviet side. On the night of September 14/15, three patrols of his First Polish Army landed in the Czerniaków and Powiśle areas of Warsaw and linked up with Armia Krajowa (Polish Home Army forces).  Soviet troops provided artillery cover and air support as Polish units were crossing the river, but it was insufficient to counter ferocious German machine gun fire. As a result, the Polish landing troops sustained very heavy casualties during the crossing. Only 1,200 Polish men made it ashore from the I and III battalions of 9th infantry regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.  The 1st Polish Army was the only external land force to support to Warsaw Uprising.  The absence of sufficient Soviet assistance led to suspicions that Stalin's objective may have been to assure Polish defeat.  Incidentally, the Soviet air base was within five minutes flying time, which gave the Soviets ample opportunity and time to increase the number of sorties.