September 21, 2018




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.


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.


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%)

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