September 29, 2018




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)


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)


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.

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