September 13, 2018

SEPTEMBER 13 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

SEPTEMBER 13

1939

German magazine spread propaganda.  On September 13, 1939, the German magazine Die Wehrmacht printed a false report that Polish Cavalrymen had charged against German tanks with sabers and lances.  This was a falsified report.   The battle between the Polish cavalrymen and the German forces took place on September 1, 1939 as part of the larger Battle of Tuchola Forest.  The Polish units, ie the 18th Pomeranian Uhlans spotted a group of German infantry posted idly in a clearing of the Tuchola Forest (near the railroad crossroads of Chojnice – Runowo Pomorskie line). The moment was opportune to take the enemy by surprise, and Colonel Kazimierz Mastalerz gave the order to Eugeniusz Świeściak, commander of the 1st squadron, to execute a cavalry charge. (Other squadrons and their TKS/TK3 tankettes, were held back in reserve.)  At 1900 hours, two Polish squadrons numbering 250 men made a successful charge causing the German infantry unit to disperse. However, German armored reconnaissance vehicles (not tanks) probably part of Aufklärungs-Abteilung 20, emerged from the forest trail,  and launched heavy machine gun fire on the Polish units. The Polish cavalrymen were in a clearing and completely exposed to enemy fire and had to race for cover behind a nearby hillock.   About a third of the Polish force was dead or wounded and the Commanders were killed in the attack.  Later on that day,  German war correspondents were brought to the battlefield, accompanied by two Italian journalists, to survey the carnage. They saw the corpses of the Polish cavalrymen and of their horses, and noticed that some German tanks had arrived at the place of battle. Indro Montanelli, one of the Italian journalists sent home a report in which he described the bravery and heroism of Polish soldiers, who "charged German tanks with sabres and lances".  This cavalry charge never happened because during the Battle there were no German tanks used in combat.  This myth was created by and propagated by the German propaganda department. They repeated this falsehood frequently in an effort to damage Poland's relationship with the Allies.  In fact, this myth was still being taught in American schools into the 1990s. (Note:  The Polish brigade were also equipped with anti-tank weapons such as 37 mm Bofors wz.36 antitank guns, which had the capacity to penetrate 26 mm of armour at 600 m at 30 degrees. In 1939, the German Panzer I and Panzer II models were relatively smaller than later models, and were vulnerable to anti-tank guns. I suppose the Italian journalists forget to mention that.)


The Battle of Modlin began.  During the German invasion of Poland, there were countless number of battles between German forces and Polish defenders.  The Battle of Modlin was a six day battle that ended in a German victory.  Modlin Fortress was the headquarters of the Polish Modlin Army, under the command of General Wiktor Thommée. It was used as a defensive citadel for Polish troops launching attacks against the German units.  The Poles were armed with anti-aircraft artillery, shooting down more German planes than at any other battle during the September campaign.  The Modlin army was also defended by an armored train code-named Smierc ("Death").   Despite fierce battle, the Modlin army capitulated on September 29, 1939.  About 24,000 troops laid down arms and were taken as POWs by the Germans.   


Germans Bombed town of Frampol.  During the invasion of Poland, the Germans targeted Frampol as a practice run for subsequent bombing missions in Poland.  German fighter pilots were trained on strafing techniques on the people who were trying to flee from the city. About 700 tons of bombs were dropped on the city. Since Frampol was defenceless, the German bombers were able to fly at very low altitude without danger of facing anti-aircraft fire.  Frampol lost 90% of its buildings and 50% of the population. The population of the town was 4,000, 50% of which were killed during the bombing.  The town of Frampol was completely destroyed - only two streets remained unscathed and a few houses on the outskirts of the town. 


1944

Soviet Air Drops:  After 44 days after the start of the Warsaw Uprising was launched by the Poles, Soviet aircraft was finally sent to begin dropping supplies to the besieged city. Beginning on the night of September 13-14, until September 27-28, Soviet airplanes dropped a total of 130 tons of supplies.  Initially, the canisters were dropped out of the planes without a parachute, so that they were smashed to pieces when hitting the ground.  The Soviet Air Forces flew 2,535 sorties with small bi-plane Polikarpov Po-2's,delivering a total of 156 50-mm mortars, 505 anti-tank rifles, 1478 sub-machine guns, 520 rifles, 669 carbines, 41 780 hand grenades, 37 216 mortar shells, over 3 mln. cartridges, 131.2 tons of food and 515 kg of medicine. Despite allied assistance, a vast majority of the canisters fell into German hands.


1989

Tadeusz Mazowiecki was Prime Minister of Poland. In his parliamentary speech on September 13, 1989 he introduced his new cabinet, and a government program subject to parliamentary vote. Mazowiecki suffered a dizzy spell which prompted a one-hour break in proceedings. In the subsequent vote, the government program was approved by a landslide vote in favor 402 - 0, with 13 abstentions. In a relatively brief period of time, Mazowiecki's government succeeded in implementing many of his reforms. Mazowiecki completely transformed the political system instituting civil freedoms, a multi-party system, and even the country's emblem and name were changed - from the People's Republic of Poland to the Republic of Poland.  On December  29, 1989, the Polish government made fundamental changes in the Polish Constitution. The preamble was deleted and articles regarding political and economic structures of government were changed completely, and the chapter about trade unions was rewritten, and concept of possession was redefined.



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