October 31, 2018




During the night of October 31 to November 1, 1918, Captain Dmytro Vitovsky of the Sich Riflemen led a group of Ukrainian officers in a military action to capture the city of Lviv. The following day, the West Ukrainian People's Republic was proclaimed, with Lviv as its capital.  This came as a shock to the Polish ethnic population and administration, as they suddenly found themselves in a Ukrainian state.   Although the majority of the population of the Western-Ukrainian People's Republic were Ukrainians, many urban settlements had Polish majorities.  Because the West Ukrainian People's Republic was not internationally recognized and Poland's boundaries had not yet been defined, the issue of ownership of the disputed territory was reduced to a question of military control. (nb: After the end of WWI, Poland re-emerged as a sovereign nation state, after 123 years of oblivion.)  The Polish Ukrainian War broke out on November 1, 1918 and ended on July 17, 1919 with a Polish victory and annexation of disputed territory.  The Polish–Soviet War was already well under way, having begun in February of the same year. Polish forces battled forces of the Ukrainian People's Republic, Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine for control of an area equivalent to today's western Ukraine and parts of modern-day Belarus.


Nazi-Occupied Poland:  Nazi German Hans Frank,  Governor of the General Government, enacted criminal laws which imposed the death penalty to anyone for acts against the Nazi German government, or the unlawful possession of a weapon. Subsequent laws also imposed the death penalty, for example: on January 21, 1940, for economic speculation;  on February 20, 1940, for spreading sexually transmitted diseases;  on July 31, 1940, for any Polish officers who did not register immediately with the German administration (to be taken to prisoner of war camps);  on November 10, 1941, for giving any assistance to the Jews;  on July 11, 1942, for farmers who failed to provide requested contingents of crops; on July 24, 1943, for not joining the forced labor battalions (Baudienst) when ordered.


The Battle of Britain ended on October 31, 1940 with an Allied victory. The Battle was the first major military battle waged entirely by air forces.  The RAF fought the Nazis in defense of  England. Many British towns and cities, including London was bombed by the Luftwaffe. Polish pilots were an integral part of the RAF squadrons and shot down more enemy planes than any other Allied squadrons.  A total of 145 experienced and battle-hardened Polish airmen took to the skies and demonstrated their mastery over the skies. There were Polish airmen in various RAF squadrons, as well as in No. 302 (Polish) Fighter Squadron and in No. 303 (Polish) Fighter Squadron (also called the Kosciuszko Squadron).  The RAF also consisted of pilots from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Belgium and Czechoslovakia.


German U Boat sank American Destroyer.  On October 31, 1941, USS Reuben James was one of five destroyers escorting convoy HX-156,  near the coast of Iceland,  Just as the Reuben James began turning to investigate a strong direction-finder bearing, a torpedo was launched from U-552. It struck her port side and caused an explosion in her forward magazine causing the entire bow section of the destroyer to be blown off as far back as the fourth funnel. The American ship sank immediately but the stern remained afloat for around five minutes before sinking.  The damage was compounded by unsecured depth charges, which began exploding as they sank, killing the survivors in the water.  One hundred and fifteen of her 160-man crew were killed, including all the officers.  The destroyer was the first US Navy warship to be sunk in World War II.

October 30, 2018




Rada Narodowa Księstwa Cieszyńskiego, the Polish national council of the territory of Cieszyn Silesia, made a declaration in "Ludi slaski!" that the territory belonged to Poland. They based their claim on ethnic factors, that the area had a Polish majority, according to the last Austrian census in 1910.  On November 1, 1918, the Czech council claimed it belonged to Czechoslovakia. (Following the end of World War I, the two new emerged states of the Second Republic of Poland and the First Czechoslovak Republic both claimed territorial rights over Cieszyn Silesia.)


The Man Who Almost Killed Churchill: The German submarine U-56 encountered the British battleship HMS Nelson, west of the Orkney Islands, in the Northern Isles of Scotland. Aboard the battleship was the First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill. the Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Forbes, and Admiral Sir Dudley Pound, the First Sea Lord at the time. They were aboard with the leadership of the British Navy for a conference regarding the sinking disaster of HMS Royal Oak. (caused by a U-boat attack during which 833 servicemen died.)  The U-56 fired three torpedoes which struck the hull of the Nelson, but none exploded. The U-boat's commander Wilhelm Zahn was unaware that Churchill was aboard at the time, but became known as "the man who almost killed Churchill."  (nb. The HMS Nelson was named after Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, the victor at the Battle of Trafalgar. The Nelson class battleship were unique in British construction, as they were the only ships to carry a main armament of 16 inches (406mm) guns and the only ones to carry all the main armament forward of the superstructure.)


Lend-Lease Aid for Allies:  President Franklin D. Roosevelt came up with the idea of the Lend-Lease Aid as a way to side-step the US Neutrality Act of  the 1930s as well as the American opposition to the war.  After the defeat of France in June 1940, Britain was the only country waging war against Germany and Italy, and paying for its war materiel with gold, as stipulated by the "cash and carry" program of the US Neutrality Acts. By 1941 British assets were quickly becoming depleted and desperately needed American assistance.  The Lend-Lease deal was a program in with the United States supplied Free France, the United Kingdom, the Republic of China, and later the Soviet Union and other Allied nations with food, oil, and materiel between 1941 and August 1945. This included warships and warplanes, heavy artillery, and other equipment. The policy was signed into law on March 11, 1941 and ended abruptly when the war against Japan came to an end. This aid was free for all allies, although countries were charged for goods that were still in transit when the program ended.  The total amount involved in the Lend-Lease Aid was $50.1 billion (equivalent to $681 billion today). This consisted of 11% of the total American war expenditures. Altogether,  $31.4 billion (equivalent to $427 billion today) went to the United Kingdom, $11.3 billion (equivalent to $154 billion today) to the Soviet Union, $3.2 billion (equivalent to $43.5 billion today) to Free France, $1.6 billion (equivalent to $21.7 billion today) to China, and the remaining $2.6 billion to the other Allies.  Conversely, Reverse lend-lease policies comprised services such as rent on bases used by the U.S., and totaled $7.8 billion; of this, $6.8 billion came from the British and the Commonwealth, mostly Australia and India. The terms of the agreement provided that the materiel was to be used until returned or destroyed. In practice very little equipment was in usable shape for peacetime uses. Supplies that arrived after the termination date were sold to Britain at a large discount for £1.075 billion, using long-term loans from the United States. Canada was not part of Lend Lease.


The Nazi German concentration camp at Monowitz (also called Monowitz-Buna or Auschwitz III)  began operation on October 30, 1942. It was the first concentration camp to be financed and built by private industry.  In January 1943 the ArbeitsausbildungLager (labor education camp) was transferred from the parent camp (Auschwitz)  to Monowitz.  Jewish prisoners were forced to work on the building site. The SS charged IG Farben three Reichsmarks per hour for unskilled workers, and four Reichsmarks for skilled workers.  The camp administrators expected the prisoners to work at 75 percent of the capacity of a free worker, but the inmates could only able perform at 20 to 50 percent.  The kapos constantly threatened Jewish prisoners with deportation to Birkenau's gas chambers, as a way to increase productivity.  It resulted in the rapid reduction of the prisoner population of Monowitz by about a fifth every month, but replaced with new prisoners arriving at the camp. Life expectancy of inmates at Monowitz averaged about three months.


The last victims were chosen in Auschwitz for extermination in the gas chambers on October 30, 1944. The number of Jews transported to Auschwitz was so high that the SS resorted to burning corpses in open-air pits, as well as in the crematoria. The gas chambers operated at peak capacity from April–July 1944, during the massacre of Hungary's Jews. Hungary was an ally of Germany during the war, but it had resisted turning over its Jews until Germany invaded in March.  In May, a rail spur leading directly into Birkenau was completed, to deliver the victims closer to the gas chambers. From May 14  until early July 1944, 437,000 Hungarian Jews, half of the pre-war population, were deported to Auschwitz, at a rate of 12,000 a day for much of that period.

October 29, 2018




Kovno Pogrom:   The Germans launched what became known as the "Great Action." In a single day, they murdered about 10,000 Jews at the Ninth Fort, which were the remainder of Jews of the Kovno Ghetto. About 500 Jews (part of the Kovno Ghetto underground, named the General Jewish Fighting Organization, managed to escape and joined Soviet partisan forces in the distant forests of southeast Lithuania and Belarus. (On October 4, 1941, the Germans and Lithuanians destroyed the Kovno ghetto and killed many of its inmates at the Ninth Fort.  (From 1942 births were not permitted in the ghetto and women who were discovered to be pregnant faced certain death.  However a number of babies ranging in age from about 9 months to 15 months were smuggled out of the Kovno Ghetto and bestowed  to willing Lithuanian foster mothers.)

Churchill's Famous "Never Give In"  Speech to Harrow School on October 29, 1941. The following is an excerpt "……...when I was here last time we were quite alone, desperately alone, and we had been so for five or six months. We were poorly armed. We are not so poorly armed today.......Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy........Very different is the mood today. Britain, other nations thought, had drawn a sponge across her slate. But instead our country stood in the gap. There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside these Islands, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer.......Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days--the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.  (nb. Harrow School is an independent boarding school in Harrow, England which was founded in 1572 by John Lyon under a Royal Charter of Elizabeth I.  Winston Churchill attended that school in his youth. Though he didn't particularly enjoy his school days, he was brilliant at memorization. He entered a competition and won a school prize for reciting from memory 1,200 lines from Macaulay’s long poem, Lays of Ancient Rome. This aptitude of oratory served him very well when he entered politics.)


1st Polish Armoured Division liberated Breda, Netherlands.  The Polish forces were successfully led by famous Polish General Stanislaw Maczek, who planned, and out-maneouvred the German forces. There were no civilian casualties.  Throughout the winter of 1944-1045,  the Polish Division were stationed on the south bank of the river Rhine, guarding a sector around Moerdijk, Netherlands. In early 1945,  the Polish forces were transferred to the province of Overijssel and began to advance with the Allies along the Dutch-German border, liberating the eastern parts of the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen including the towns of Emmen, Coevorden and Stadskanaal.


German Forces Failed to Capture Tula:   The Second Panzer Army initially advanced towards Tula with little difficulty because the Mozhaisk defense line did not extend far enough south, and did threaten to block the German advance.   However the German forces eventually slowed down due to bad weather, fuel problems, and damaged roads and bridges. Guderian did not reach the outskirts of Tula until October 26. The German plan initially called for the rapid capture of Tula, followed by a pincer move around Moscow.  But the first attack was repelled by the 50th Army and Soviet civilian volunteers on October, 29.  Finally on October 31, the German Army high command ordered a halt to all offensive operations until they could resolve the overwhelming severe logistical problems, and when the rasputitsa subsided. (The rasputitsa refers to the season in Russia, when unpaved roads become muddy and impossible to navigate.) Tula is located about  193 kilometers (120 mi) south of Moscow.

October 28, 2018




Nazi German government called for the arrest of about 18,000 Polish Jews living in Germany and had them expelled to Poland. Then Poland in turn refused them entry, thus leaving them stranded in so-called 'No-Man's Land' near the Polish border for several months. (In March of 1938, the Polish government had decreed that passports held by Polish citizens living abroad for more than five years would require re-validation. )  Many of the Polish Jews sought refuge in the nearby towns of Zbaszyn and Bytom.  According to some sources, about six to ten thousand Jews gathered in the town of Zbaszyn, within the space of a few days.  A large refugee camp was created in Zbaszyn, with help from Jewish aid organisations. It wasn't until the end of November 1938 that the Polish authorities decided to disband the camp and allow the refugees residency in Poland. Many of them settled in Poland while others arranged travel visas to leave the country.  (nb. Polish authorities threatened retaliations and the expulsion of the same number of Germans, according to the papers and memoirs of Ambassador Jozef Lipski, "Diplomat in Berlin" 1933-1939)


Second Odessa Massacre:  On October 28, another massacre was instigate by the Romanians, and Nazi Germans. They herded between 4,000 and 5,000 Jewish civilians into stables and bars and shot them.. By the end of December, an additional 50,000 Jews from the concentration camp at Bogdanovka had been killed. Another 10,000 Jews were taken on a death march to three concentration camps near Golta: Bogdanovka, Domanovka and Acmecetca. Many died during the march. Those who survived were murdered two months later, along with tens of thousands of other Jews who had been brought to these camps from northern Transnistria and Bessarabia.


Nazi Germany made its first V-1 rocket glide test flight on October 28, 1942, from Peenemunde, carried under a Focke-Wulf Fw200.  The launch sites were capable of launching about a maximum of 18 V-1s per day but only 25% of them actually hit their targets.  Most failed due to a combination of ineffective mechanical design, or guidance errors. With the capture or destruction of the launch facilities by the Allies, the V-1s were redirected in attacks against strategic points in Belgium, particularly the port of Antwerp.  (Attempts to launch the V-1 against Britain were met by a variety of countermeasures, including barrage balloons and aircraft including the Hawker Tempest and Gloster Meteor.  The British were so successful in these measures that by August 1944 approximately 1,000 V-1s or 80 per cent  were destroyed by the RAF aircraft.)

October 27, 2018




Stefan Starzyński,  Mayor of Warsaw was arrested by the Gestapo on October 27,1939, and imprisoned in the notorious Pawiak prison. By December the Gestapo made him an offer for his "escape" but Mayor Starzynski refused on the premise that it would be too dangerous to those involved.  (Previously, on October 5,  the Gestapo had arrested him along with other prominent officials, and held them hostage as a warrant of safety for Adolf Hitler during the victory parade in Warsaw. They were released the following day.)  Starzynski's fate remained unknown -  until September 8, 2014, when the Polish Institute of National Remembrance closed the investigation on the circumstances of his death. They found that the instigators were  Gestapo functionaries, Oberscharführer Hermann Schimmann, Hauptscharführer Weber, and Unterscharführer Perlbach, but no proof could be discovered regarding the identity of the murderer(s).  Stefan Starzynski's most famous quote was translated to English as follows:  " A day will come when Berlin will be set on flames, when German women and children will die just like ours are dying. I hope all of you will understand then that there is God's justice.  I wanted Warsaw to be great. Both my colleagues and I were making plans of a great Warsaw of the future. And Warsaw is great. It happened sooner than we thought. And although where we wanted parks are barricades, although our libraries are burning, although the hospitals are burning the city of Warsaw, defending the honour of Poland, is today at the highest point of its greatness."  (N.B.  Berlin was subjected to over 360 Allied air raids throughout WW2.  Berlin was bombed by the RAF Bomber Squadrons (1940 to 1945);  by the USAAF Eighth Air Force (1943 to 1945); the French Air Force (1944 to 1945); and the Red Air Force (1945).  British bombers dropped 45,517 tons of bombs while the Americans dropped 23,000 tons. By May 1945, 1.7 million Germans had fled the city (40% of the population). Many other German cities were bombed. )

Polish General Marian Zegota-Januszajtis was arrested by the notorious Soviet NKVD. He was imprisoned in Lwów and later transferred to the infamous Lubyanka prison. After the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement of July 1941, he was released.  He was one of the founders of Polish paramilitary pro-independence organizations in the Austrian partition, and the last commander of the 1st Brigade of Polish Legions.  He was also organizer of the unsuccessful coup in 1919,  a general in the Second Polish Republic and Polish Armed Forces in the West, voivode of the Nowogródek Voivodeship (1924-1926), and a member of the Polish government in Exile in London.

The Pope Pius XII encyclical Summi Pontificatus was published. In it he denounced totalitarianism, ideologies of racism, and cultural superiority.  The encyclical was non-political, however it expressly condemned the actions of Nazi Germany, but without mentioning it by name. The following is an excerpt translated to English: "......."The blood of countless human beings, even noncombatants, raises a piteous dirge over a nation such as Our dear Poland, which, for its fidelity to the Church, for its services in the defense of Christian civilization, written in indelible characters in the annals of history, has a right to the generous and brotherly sympathy of the whole world, while it awaits, relying on the powerful intercession of Mary, Help of Christians, the hour of a resurrection in harmony with the principles of justice and true peace......"   Nazi Germany tried to play it down, but Von Bergen, the German ambassador to the Vatican, said: "Pope Pius wanted to hit with this encyclical primarily the Third Reich..."


Augustyn Łukosz, 56, died on October 27, 1940 in Mauthausen concentration camp.   He was a Polish national activist and socialist politician from the region of Zaolzie, Czechoslovakia. In 1935 Łukosz founded the Polish Social Democratic Party (PPSD).  After the annexation of Zaolzie region to Poland in 1938, President Ignacy Mościcki appointed him as Deputy of the Silesian Parliament, where Łukosz was a deputy until the outbreak of World War II. In 1938 he was decorated with  the Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta.


Parliamentary election in Poland:  The 1991 election was notable on several counts. It was the first parliamentary election to be held since the formation of the Third Republic;  the first completely free and competitive legislative election since the fall of communism;  the first completely free legislative election of any sort since 1928;  and only the fifth completely free election in all of Polish history.  With the collapse of the political wing of the Solidarity,  the 1991 election exposed deep political fragmentation, and a corresponding rise of numerous new parties and alliances.  Contributing to this fragmentation were very low voting thresholds.  No party held a decisive majority in the Sejm or the Senate.  (There are 460 seats in the Sejm, and 231 seats were needed to win a majority.  The results showed that the Democratic Union party won 12.3% of the vote, with 62 seats in the Sejm.  They were followed closely by the Democratic Left Alliance, with 12% of the vote and 60 seats;  Solidarity ranked in tenth place with 5.1% of the vote and  27 seats. There were about 29 political parties running in the election.)

October 26, 2018




Hans Frank was appointed German Governor of the General Government of Poland. After the joint invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, the General Government of Poland was one of three zones of the Nazi occupation in central Poland. The other two sections were western Polish areas annexed into the Third Reich, and the eastern territories annexed by the Soviet Union. Hans Frank was the chief jurist in the "General Government". He spread a reign of terror against the Polish civlian population (Jews and ethnic Poles).  Frank directed the policy of the segregation of the Jews into ghettos, in particular that of the Warsaw Ghetto, and used Polish civilians as forced slave labor.  The Polish Underground attempted to assassinate Frank on the night of January  29/30, 1944 (the night preceding the 11th anniversary of Hitler's appointment as Chancellor of Germany) but the attempt failed.  Frank was travelling in a special train to Lviv when it was derailed  after the explosion. Nobody was killed however. (NB.  At the Nuremberg trials following the end of WW2, he was tried,found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and was executed.)


On October 26, 1952, Poland held its first legislative election by one-party rule.  It was the first elections to the Sejm (Polish Parliament) of the People's Republic of Poland. It was also the first election under undisguised communists, but it was blatantly rigged, and the results falsified on a massive scale.  All opposition parties were either eliminated, or sought refuge underground.  Opponents were subject to arrest and torture. Voters were presented with a single list from the Front of National Unity, comprising the PZPR and its two satellite parties, the Democratic Party and the ZSL. The number of candidates permitted to run in the elections was equal to the number of seats in parliament.  PZPR "won" by a landslide with 99.8% of the vote. The PZPR, (Polish United Workers' Party ) held iron control over Poland from 1948 to 1989.


Alfred Tarski ( nee Alfred Teitelbaum) died on this day. He was a Polish-American logician and mathematician of Polish-Jewish descent, and was educated in Poland at the University of Warsaw. He was a member of the Lwów–Warsaw school of logic and the Warsaw school of mathematics. Tarski immigrated to the United States in 1939 and became an American citizen. He did research in math and taught at the University of California, Berkeley from 1942 until his death in 1983. Tarski was best known for his work on model theory, metamathematics, and algebraic logic, as well as his contributions to abstract algebra, topology, geometry, measure theory, mathematical logic, set theory, and analytic philosophy. His biographers Anita and Solomon Feferman state that, "Along with his contemporary, Kurt Gödel, he changed the face of logic in the twentieth century, especially through his work on the concept of truth and the theory of models.

October 25, 2018




The October Revolution of October 24, 1917 (Nov 7 NS)  also called Red October, the October Uprising, the Bolshevik Revolution, or Bolshevik Coup was led by the Bolsheviks and Vladimir Lenin.  It followed the February Revolution (which overthrew the Tsarist autocracy, and established a provisional government. During this time, urban workers began to organize into councils (Russian: Soviet) wherein revolutionaries criticized the provisional government and its actions. After the second session of the Congress of Soviets, now the governing body,  members of the Bolsheviks and other leftist groups were elected to important positions within the new state of affairs. This marked the establishment of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, the world's first self-proclaimed socialist state. (On July  17,  1918, the Tsar and his family were executed.)


On October 25, 1939, the U-16 German submarine was crossing the Dover Strait when it was attacked by HMS Puffin and HMS Cayton Wyke. The U-boat attempted to avoid the depth charges and ran aground on the Goodwin Sands. There were no survivors.  Subsequently, all U-boats took significantly longer routes (around the north of Scotland to the Western Approaches and the north Atlantic).  From September 2, 1939 to October 25, 1939, U-16 took part in the laying mines in open water in and around the English Channel, in an attempt to cripple an important Allied shipping route.


Heinrich Himmler ordered a crackdown on the Edelweiss Pirates (Edelweißpiraten) on October 24, 1944. The Edelweiss Pirates was an organized group of German youth who were opposed to Nazi Germany, and the strict regimentation of Hitler Youth. They assisted deserters from the Nazi German army, as well as other Germans trying to hide from the Third Reich  The group was originally founded as the German Youth Movement in the late 1930s. The young members of this group, aged 14 to 17,  attempted to evade the Hitler Youth by quitting school (which was permitted at the age of 14). They also managed to avoid military conscription, which became mandatory from the age of 17 onward.  By November of 1944,  the Gestapo tracked down and rounded up 13 leaders of the Ehrenfelder Gruppe and publicly hanged them in Cologne.  Some of them were former members of Edelweißpiraten.  Among the teenagers hanged were Bartholomäus Schink, called Barthel, former member of the local Navajos. Fritz Theilen survived. Many others were sentenced to prison for 25 years. Despite efforts of the Nazi German government to repress them, the young Edelweiss Pirates prevailed.  A plaque memorial was placed in Cologne to commemorate the German teenagers who were executed.  The following is an English translation of the plaque:  "This marks the site where, on October 25, 1944, eleven citizens of Poland and the USSR, kidnapped by the Nazi regime for forced labor in Germany and on November 10, 1944, thirteen Germans, including young Edelweiss Pirates from Ehrenfeld and other fighters against war and terror, were publicly hanged, without trial, by the Gestapo and SS."

October 24, 2018




Third Partition of Poland:   On October 24, 1795 representatives of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian empire signed a treaty dividing the remaining territories of the Commonwealth among Prussia, the Austrian Empire, and the Russian Empire which thereby ended Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1918. Polish sovereignty ceased to exist for 123 years. The partitioning powers agreed to permanently erase Poland's name from existence in any historical context,  including from their respective encyclopedias, in an attempt to quash Polish dissidence and nationalistic fervor. Consequently, this period was fraught with numerous Polish uprisings. Tadeusz Kosciuzko was a Polish patriot and leader of the Polish Uprisings against Russia and Prussia.  He also fought on the American side in the American Revolution. He is revered as both hero of Poland and of the United States.


Joachim von Ribbentrop met with Polish ambassador Józef Lipski at Berchtesgaden in southern Germany. During the meeting, Ribbentrop presented Lipski with a proposal to settle issues between Poland and Germany that "would remove the causes of future strife."  Ribbentrop emphasized the importance of reuniting Danzig with the Reich, and assured Lipski that Poland would retain railway and economic facilities there. He asked that Poland agree to the building of an extraterritorial superhighway and railway line across Pomerania. Ribbontrop mentioned that in exchange for these agreements, there "might" be the possibility of extending the Polish-German non-aggression treaty for another 20 to 25 years as well as a guarantee of Polish-German frontier and requested that he communicate these suggestions to Polish Minister Josef Beck. (To read Minister Beck's reply, read blog post dated May 5, 1939,in Daily Chronicles of History)


October 24, 1939 Nazi Speech:  German Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop made a speech in Danzig blaming Britain for starting the war. He declared that fighting would begin on a large scale because British Prime Minister Chamberlain had "refused the hand of the Führer stretched out in a peace gesture."  The following is an excerpt of Ribbentrops speech: " .......The Fuehrer's historic offer of peace, made before the Reichstag, was not only not understood by Mr. Chamberlain, but following his previous mistaken policy towards Germany with rare consistency, he again made precisely that mistake which he should not have made, and against which the Fuehrer uttered an explicit warning in his speech. For Mr. Chamberlain actually interpreted the Fuehrer's offer as an indication of Germany's weakness. Completely misunderstanding its high ethical value, and the eminence from which the Fuehrer made his offer of peace to Great Britain, in order to prevent utterly senseless bloodshed for the nations, Mr. Chamberlain has now finally refused to grasp Germany's outstretched hand of peace. By so doing, the British Prime Minister has taken upon himself a grave responsibility in the eyes of the world, and at the same time has shown afresh that, whatever Germany were to do, Great Britain is determined to wage this war against Germany.....Germany has accepted this British challenge.........  ( London swiftly provided an official reply saying the speech "introduces no new element into the situation nor is it considered as having any particular importance.")


The People's Guard bombed the Café Club in the center of Warsaw.  The club, located at the corner of Aleje Jerozolimskie and Nowy Świat was a favorite recreation and entertainment center exclusive to soldiers of the Nazi German army.  The bombing was in retaliation for the public execution of 50 of its members. The commander of the district of Powiśle, Tadeusz Findziński, "Olek" and Jerzy Duracz "Jurek" took part in the attack.  Roman Bogucki tossed a bunch of grenades through the window of the cafe,  which exploded and wounded several Nazi Germans.


The United Nations was officially established on this day.  It's Preamble reads as follows:  " We the Peoples of The United Nations Determined;  to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,  AND FOR THESE ENDS, to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,  HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS,  Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.


President Truman declared the end of war with Germany on October 24, 1951 (ten years and two months after Congress declared war against Nazi Germany on December 11, 1941.) Most people believe that the war ended with the cessation of military hostilities in 1945, although no treaty had been signed with Germany to that effect.  The obstacle to this impasse was the Soviet occupation of both East and West Germany, despite the agreement among the major powers (US, UK, and France) of the division of Germany into Western and Soviet control.  Tensions heightened when Stalin ordered a blockade of the city of Berlin.  In response, Truman ordered airlifts to help the Germans in the Western Zone. (For more information about the Berlin Blockade, read  blog post dated June 24, 1948;  and to read about the Berlin Airlift read blog post of June 26, 1948)

October 23, 2018




Jan Czochralski  was a Polish chemist who invented the Czochralski process, which is used for growing single crystals and in the production of semiconductor wafers. He is the most cited Polish scholar.   He was born on October 23, 1885, in what was then Exin, situated in the Prussian Province of Posen, German Empire (now Kcynia, Poland). He was educated at Charlottenburg Polytechnic in Berlin, where he specialized in metal chemistry. Czochralski began working as an engineer for Allgemeine Elektrizitäts Gesellschaft (AEG) in 1907. In 1917, Czochralski organized the research laboratory "Metallbank und Metallurgische Gesellschaft", which he directed until 1928. In 1919 he was one of the founding members of the German Society for Metals Science (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Metallkunde), of which he was president until 1925. In 1928, at the request of the President of Poland, Ignacy Mościcki, he moved to Poland and became the Professor of Metallurgy and Metal Research at the Chemistry Department of the Warsaw University of Technology. After the war, he was stripped of his professorship by the communist regime due to his involvement with Germany during the war, although he was later cleared of any wrongdoing by a Polish court. He returned to his native town of Kcynia, where he ran a small cosmetics and household chemicals firm until his death in 1953. (source: Wikipedia)


Field Marshal Georgy Zhukov took command of Red Army operations to prevent the further advance into Russia of German forces and to prevent the Wehrmacht from capturing Moscow.  He led the 1st Belorussian Front in the Battle of Berlin, which resulted in the defeat of Nazi Germany, and the end of the War in Europe. Zhukov was a highly decorated military leader.  In 1956,  on his 60th birthday, he received yet a fourth Hero of the Soviet Union title and be became the highest-ranking military professional in Russia, as well as a member of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.  Zhukov's prestige far exceeded even that of the police and security agencies, so much so, that Russian political leaders were concerned.  Zhukov demanded that the political agencies in the Red Army report to him before the Party. He also supported the political vindication and rehabilitation for M. N. Tukhachevsky, V. K. Blyukher, A. I. Yegorov and many others. In response his opponents accused him of being a Reformist and Bonapartist.  These and other excesses eventually led to his downfall, as he provoked the envy and hostility of the Russian government.


Hungarian Revolution:   The revolt began on October 23, 1956 as a mass demonstration, in which thousands of students marched through the streets of central Budapest to the Parliament building, shouting demands from loudspeakers. But when a student delegation entered the radio building, they were arrested. This instigated an uproar by demonstrators outside who demanded the release of the students.  Shots were fired by the State Security Police (AVH) inside the building killing one student.  The body of the student was wrapped in the national flag and carried outside, held up above the crowd. The Revolution erupted and spread throughout the capital city.  The revolt spread quickly across Hungary and the government collapsed. Thousands organised into militias, battling the ÁVH and Soviet troops. Pro-Soviet communists and ÁVH members were executed or imprisoned and former political prisoners were released and armed. Radical impromptu workers' councils wrested municipal control from the ruling Hungarian Working People's Party and demanded political changes. A new government formally disbanded the ÁVH, declared its intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact, and pledged to re-establish free elections. On November 4 Soviet forces invaded Hungary and quashed the revolution. More than 2,500 Hungarians were killed in the conflict, and 200,000 Hungarians fled as refugees. Mass arrests and denunciations continued for months thereafter.  The Revolution lasted until November 10, 1956.

October 22, 2018




Odessa Massacres of October 22 to 24, 1941:  In a three-day rampage, Romanian troops, assisted by Nazi German soldiers, rounded up and massacred Jewish civliians in the town of Odessa, shooting them, or forcing many of the Jews into warehouses and setting the buildings on fire.  The Romanians blamed the Jews for a bombing that had just occurred;  it was due to a time-delayed bomb that was actually set by the Soviets in the Romanian headquarters. The blast killed 67 people including General Ioan Glogojeanu, the Romanian commander, 16 other Romanian officers and four German naval officers.  By the evening of the same day, Romanian troops launched their reprisals. In the end, over 20,000 Jews had been slaughtered, shot or burned alive. The remaining survivors numbering about 35,000 men, women, and children were sent to the ghetto located in the suburb of Slobodka. Most of the buildings there were destroyed, and the Jewish prisoners were left outdoors for ten days. Many of them died of exposure.


Secret Allied Meeting:   A clandestine meeting took place in Algiers on October 22, 1942  between American Maj. Gen. Mark Clark, French officials supportive of the Allies, as well as resistance fighters to discuss Operation Torch. It was the planned invasion of French North Africa during the North African Campaign, and it began on November 8, 1942. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was given command of the operation, and he set up his headquarters in Gibraltar. Operation Torch was the first major operation by American troops in the European-North African theatre during WW2. and the first armed deployment in the Arab world since the Barbary wars and, according to analysts of The Economist, laid the foundations for America’s post-war Middle East policy.


Official inauguration of Pope John Paul II. It was memorable for the historic embrace of the new people and his mentor, Cardinal Wyszyński, as well as the words “Do not be afraid”,  which became a key element of the Pope John Paul II pontificate. The following is a brief excerpt of his homily, addressed to the faithful in Vatican square on October 22, 1978; "......I thank all of you here present who have wished to participate in this solemn inauguration of the ministry of the new Successor of Peter.  I heartily thank the Heads of State, the Representatives of the Authorities, and the Government Delegations for so honouring me with their presence. Thank you, Eminent Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church.  I thank you, my beloved Brothers in the Episcopate. ........I speak to you, my dear fellow-countrymen, pilgrims from Poland, Brother Bishops with your magnificent Primate at your head, Priests, Sisters and Brothers of the Polish Religious Congregations—to you representatives of Poland from all over the world.  What shall I say to you who have come from my Krakow, from the See of Saint Stanislaus of whom I was the unworthy successor for fourteen years? What shall I say? Everything that I could say would fade into insignificance compared with what my heart feels, and your hearts feel, at this moment. So let us leave aside words. Let there remain just great silence before God, the silence that becomes prayer. I ask you: be with me! At Jasna Gora and everywhere. Do not cease to be with the Pope who today prays with the words of the poet: "Mother of God, you who defend Bright Czestochowa and shine at Ostrabrama". And these same words I address to you at this particular moment........."

October 21, 2018




Kragujevac massacre:  The Nazi Germans perpetrated the mass murder Serbian men and boys in the village of Kragujevac on October 21, 1941. Between 2,778 and 2,794 citizens were rounded up and shot. This was in reprisal for insurgent attacks in the Gornji Milanovac district that resulted in the deaths of 10 German soldiers and the wounding of 26 others.  The Nazi Germans had a policy to calculate a ratio of 100 hostages executed for every German soldier killed, and 50 hostages executed for every German soldier wounded. It was a policy decreed by Hitler, as a strategy to suppress anti-Nazi resistance in Eastern Europe.


The Nazi Germans liquidated the Minsk Ghetto on October 21, 1943 sending  many of the Jews to the Sobibor extermination camp.  In March 1942 about 5,000 Jews were executed at a nearby location called "The Pit". (Today, there is a memorial where the Minsk ghetto once stood. ) According to German documentation, by August 1942 there were fewer than 9,000 Jews left in the ghetto. Several thousand were massacred at Maly Trostenets extermination camp. By the time the Red Army liberated Minsk on July 3, 1944, there were only a few Jewish survivors.  The Minsk Ghetto was one of the largest ghettos in Belorussian SSR, and the largest in German-occupied territory of the Soviet Union . It was created shortly after the German invasion of the Soviet Union and initially imprisoned about 100,000 Jews, most of whom perished in The Holocaust.  About 10,000 Jews were able to escape during the Minsk Ghetto Uprising, and fled into the nearby forests, joining the underground partisan groups.


Polish October, also referred to as the Polish October Revolution:   Street protests and riots peaked during and after the October 19 to 21 "VIII Plenum" meeting of the Central Committee of the PZPR.  There was an enormous upsurge in religious and clerical sentiment, citizens banded together singing hymns and the national anthem; the Polish people demanded the release of Stefan Wyszyński and the reinstatement of suppressed bishops.  The people demanded the return of the Polish white eagle to the flag, and traditional Polish army uniforms; they denounced the Soviet Union and its military for suppressing Poland and demanded the return of the eastern territories. Most strident was their demand for an explanation of the Katyn massacre, and the elimination of the Russian language from the educational curriculum.  In the last few days of October, monuments to the Red Army were attacked: red stars were ripped down from roofs of houses, factories and schools; red flags were destroyed; and portraits of Konstantin Rokossovsky were defaced.  It was the culmination of a year of upheaval; Boleslaw Bierut, Polish communist leader had died in March, and it was three years since Stalin died.  And in February Nikita Khrushchev vehemently denounced Stalin's regime and legacy. The Poznan protests, by far the largest of demonstrations in Poland, highlighted the dissatisfaction of the Polish people of their leaders. In October, Wladylaw Gomulka led the rise of the reformers faction and after brief, but tense, negotiations, the Soviets finally permitted Gomułka to stay in control. The Soviet regime made several concessions which granted more autonomy to the Polish government, albeit a temporary smoke screen.  Polish hopes for full liberalization would not be realized, because Gomułka's regime, under the yoke of Soviet control, became more oppressive.

October 20, 2018




Allied Council of Ambassadors divided Upper Silesia between Germany and Poland. Germany was awarded three fifths of the plebiscite area but Poland gained the most with the region's coal fields.  (see March 20, 1921) Subsequently, another treaty was concluded on May 15, 1922, the German-Polish Accord on East Silesia (Geneva Convention),  which dealt with the matter of establishing a constitutional and legal framework for Upper Silesia  (which had partly become Polish territory.)


The RuSHA Trial was the eighth of 12 trials of the United States Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (not to be confused with the Nuremberg Trials). It was also called the "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials". The trials were held from October 20, 1947 to March 10, 1948.   The 14 defendants were all Nazi German officials of various SS organizations which implemented the Nazi "pure race" programme, which dealt with racial cleansing, and resettlement activities. In addition to the RuSHA organization ( ie Race and Settlement Main Office) the defendants held positions at the office of the Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Nationhood, the  RKFDV a post held by Heinrich Himmler, the Repatriation Office for Ethnic Germans, and the Lebensborn society.  Richard Hildebrandt, the head of the RuSHA organization was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment. He died in 1952. Otto Hoffman, his predecessor received the same verdict and sentence. He was released in 1954 and died in 1982.  Ulrich Greifelt, chief of staff of RKFDV was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to life imprisonment. He died in 1949. The remainder served prison sentences varying from 10 to 20 years, or time served. One was acquitted.


Russian Missile Test Launched:   On October 20, 1961, the Soviet Union succeeded in surpassing the United States in the nuclear race by launching and testing its first SLBM with a live nuclear warhead; the R-13 was detonated in the Novaya Zemlya Test Range in the Arctic Ocean.  Ten days later the Soviets launched the gigantic 50 Mt Tsar Bomba's detonation in the same general area.  It wasn't until May 6, 1962 that the United States conducted a similar test in the Pacific Ocean, with a Polaris A-2 launched from USS Ethan Allen (SSBN-608) as part of the nuclear test series code-named Operation Dominic.

October 19, 2018




The Haupttreuhandstelle Ost (HTO) was established by Hermann Goering on October 19, 1939 as part of his four year plan to revitalize German economy. Its mandate was to co-ordinate the systematic confiscation of Jewish and Polish assets throughout Nazi-occupied Poland, that is -  state-sponsored robbery. By 1942, the HTO repossessed over 200,000 factories, shops, businesses, personal property and possessions found in over 500,000 apartments, expropriation of over 200,000 plots of land, and further pillaging of other valuables (public and private) totaling billions of zlotys, as well as 270 million reichmarks of Polish state and private properties.  The Nazi Germans established corporations whose sole purpose was dealing in these stolen goods.


The Fourth Moscow Conference ended on October 19, 1944. It was a secret meeting held in Moscow  between Churchill and Stalin, in which the fate of post-war Europe was decided along Western and Soviet spheres of influence.  It is said that Churchill scrawled his proposal unceremoniously on a scrap of paper, in which he accepted the Soviet claim on Poland, as well as 90% of Romania and 75% of Hungary and Bulgaria; while the West would receive 90% control over Greece while Yugoslavia would be split 50-50.  This scenario might have joined the ranks of legend or myth, but it did happen according to William Averell Harriman (US Ambassador to the Soviet Union).  Although Harriman was not present during the secret talks, the Soviets informed him about it later.  Apparently, Stalin examined the scrap of paper and pondered it for a moment, then wrote a large check in blue pencil and handed it back to Churchill. Churchill commented: "Might it not be thought rather cynical if it seemed we had disposed of such issues, so fateful to millions of people, in such an offhand manner? Let us burn the paper." Stalin counseled, however, to save the historic scrap of paper, which Churchill referred to as a "naughty document." It was later known as the  "Percentages Agreement."


Three agents of the Ministry of Internal Security (Soviet Communist controlled secret police) murdered a popular pro-Solidarity priest, Jerzy Popiełuszko. He was a Roman Catholic Priest.  As the facts emerged, thousands of people declared their solidarity with the murdered priest by attending his funeral, held on November 3, 1984.  Jerzy Popieluszko has been recognized as a martyr by the Roman Catholic Church, and was beatified on June 6, 2010 by Archbishop Angelo Amato on behalf of Pope Benedict XV.

October 18, 2018




Poland & Turkey sign Peace of Buczacz:    On October 18, 1672, representatives of the Polish Commonwealth were forced to sign the Peace of Buczacz with the forces of the Ottoman Empire. As a result Poland had to cede part of the Ukraine ( the right-bank Braclaw Voivodeship, the Podole Voivodeship and part of the Kiev Voivodeship) as well as pay an annual tribute of 22,000 ducates.   When the Ottoman forces, numbering 80,000 men, led by Ahmed and Mehmed IV, invaded Polish Ukraine in August, they captured the Commonwealth fortress at Kamieniec Podolski and besieged the city of Lwów. The Polish Commonwealth was not prepared for war due to internal political strife by King Michael I, the szlachta nobility and the Sejm. At issue was the inability of the Sejm to raise taxes in order to gather a larger army. This instability lay the groundwork for a greatly weakened Commonwealth.


Free City of Krakow was proclaimed on this day:  The Free City of Krakow was a city republic established by the Congress of Vienna, on October 18, 1815, and included the city of Kraków and its surrounding areas. It was under the control of Russia, Prussia, and Austria, hence the area became a hotbed of agitation against foreign occupation, and a struggle for an independent Poland. In 1846, in the aftermath of the unsuccessful Kraków Uprising, it was annexed by the Austrian Empire. It was a remnant of the Duchy of Warsaw, which was partitioned between the three states in 1815.  It was an overwhelmingly Polish-speaking city-state, in which 85% of the population were Catholics, 14% were Jews while other religions constituted less than 1%.  (However the city itself had a Jewish population of almost 40%, while the rest were almost exclusively Polish-speaking Catholics.)


Over 120,000 Jewish refugees flocked to Kaunas from Wilno. This influx rivals that of Jews from Nazi-held territory in Poland to areas controlled by the Soviet forces.  Poland and Lithuania both considered the city of Wilno as their own, and it has been a cultural center of Polish Jewry. Wilno was formally transferred to Lithuania on October 22, 1939.


Viktor Ullmann died on October 18, 1944 in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Ullmann was a Silesian-born Austrian composer, conductor and pianist. Two years earlier, while imprisoned at the Theresienstadt concentration camp, he composed numerous choral works, song cycles, stage music, and most significant were his last three piano sonatas, the Third String Quarted, and the chamber opera, "The Emperor of Atlantis, or "The Refusal of Death". The premiere of the latter was planned for Theresienstadt in the autumn of 1944.  But the Nazi SS suppressed it due to perceived similarities between the role of the Emperor of Atlantis and Hitler.  Before Ullmann was deported to Auschwitz, he left his works in the safekeeping of his friend Emil Utitz, who, after the war, gave them to H. G. Adler in Theresienstadt in 1945. Adler then brought the scores to England in 1947. While imprisoned at Theresienstadt, Viktor Ullmann wrote, "By no means did we sit weeping on the banks of the waters of Babylon. Our endeavor with respect to arts was commensurate with our will to live."


Polish General Jaruzelski was elected party leader on October 18, 1981 and held the post until July 29, 1989. He was also Prime Minister (1981-1985), Polish head of state (1985-1990), and  President (1989-1990) and the last commander-in-chief of the Polish People's Army.  On December 13, 1981, Jaruzelski declared martial law in Poland, and ordered the  borders sealed, closed airports, and imposed curfew.  Pro-democracy movements, in particular Solidarnosc, were banned, and their leaders, including Lech Walesa, arrested and jailed.  Thousands of soldiers in military vehicles swarmed the streets of every major city.  Telephone service was disconnected, the mail was censored, all independent organizations were outlawed, and classes in schools and universities were suspended.  Jaruzelski resigned after the Polish Round Table Agreement in 1989, (read about Solidarnosc, ie Solidarity) which led to democratic elections in Poland.  Jaruzelski died of a stroke on May 25, 2014.  Lech Wałęsa and Komorowski, who were among the thousands imprisoned during the crackdown on Solidarity in 1981, both stated that judgement against Jaruzelski "would be left to God".

October 17, 2018




Polish citizens who resided in territories annexed by the Third Reich were deported to General Gouvernment (GG) in Poland. The Nazis ordered each Polish household to evacuate their homes, allotting them each only one suitcase weighing not more than fifty kilograms, only one blanket, and enough food for a couple of days. They could not take their beds, and had to leave behind their money and valuables. Hitler regarded Polish Christians and Polish Jews as "untermenschen" (sub-human). His plan was to exterminate both the Poles and the Jews, but allow a small proportion of Poles to survive and serve the Third Reich as slaves.  Due to the shortage of food in the GG,  the Nazis rationed food supplies to sub-subsistence levels:  While the Nazi Germans were enjoying a daily intake of 2,310 calories, the Poles were receiving only 654 daily calories, and the Jews only 184 calories per day.  Many urban Poles tried to supplement their food by secretly buying from farmers, or from the black market.  Tragically, Jews could not pursue the same options. There were countless stories of Jewish children who would sneak out of the Jewish ghettos at night to search for, buy, or steal food from the outside.  And there were sympathetic Poles who would toss bread over the ghetto walls to try to help the Jews.  If the Nazis caught them doing so, they would have been shot on the spot.

Luftwaffe bombers raided Scapa Flow again and damaged the HMS Iron Duke, a decommissioned British battleship. In retaliation the RAF shot down one of the enemy bombers. The British naval base was protected by mines and boom, as well as anti-aircraft batteries. Churchill ordered a series of causeways to be built to block the eastern approach to Scapa Flow.  Though it was closed in 1956, the Churchill Barriers are still in place today, and have been preserved, allowing road access between the islands of Orkney while blocking any ship access. (Scapa Flow is one of the transfer and processing points for North Sea oil. A 30-inch(-diameter), 128-mile underwater pipeline brings oil from the Piper oilfield to the Flotta oil terminal. The Claymore and Tartan oil fields also feed into this line.)   Read October 14, 1939


Warsaw Uprising: Nazi German Plan to Erase Warsaw. Throughout October as the Nazi Germans were preparing to leave the city, they systematically razed Warsaw to the ground. "After 5 or 6 weeks, Warsaw will disappear; Warsaw the capital, the head of 16-17 million Poles, a people who blocked the East to us for 700 years, will be no more. Then, historically speaking, the Polish Question will no longer be a problem for us, for our children, and for all those who will succeed us." (October 17, 1944 quote by Heinrich Himmler, SS Chief)

TO MARSHAL STALIN (no. 336) "My dear Marshal Stalin, We have had further conversations with Mikolajczyk, and we have made progress. I am more than ever convinced of his desire to reach an understanding with you and with the National Committee, despite the very real difficulties that confront him.  Mikolajczyk is anxious to see you himself alone, in order to tell you what his plans now are and to seek your advice. The conversations which I have had with him since I saw you lead me to press this request most strongly upon you.  I am looking forward to our conversation tonight on the question of the partition of Germany. I feel, as I think you agreed yesterday, that we may clarify and focus our ideas with a precision which was certainly lacking at Tehran, when victory seemed so much more distant than now.  Finally let me tell you what a great pleasure it has been to me to find ourselves talking on the difficult and often unavoidably painful topics of State policy with so much ease and mutual understanding.  My daughter Sarah will be delighted with the charming token from Miss Stalin and will guard it among her most valued possessions.   I remain, with sincere respect and goodwill, Your friend and war comrade,  Winston S. CHURCHILL  (Moscow, October 17, 1944)


Adoption of Small Constitution:    The Polish Constitution of 1992 annulled many of the antiquated sections of the Stalinist Constitution of the People's Republic of Poland (1952), replacing statements of communism and socialism, and with that supporting a free liberal democracy and open market economy.  The 1992 Constitution also revised and regulated the relation between the executive and legislative branches of government, as well as local government.   It was voted on by the first freely-elected Sejm since 1928.  (The reformed 1952 constitution was fully repealed and completely replaced in 1997 by the current Constitution of the Republic of Poland.)

October 16, 2018




Jadwiga was crowned King of Poland, despite being a woman:  Jadwiga  was the first female monarch of the Kingdom of Poland, and reigned from October 16, 1384 until her death on July 17, 1399. She was the youngest daughter of Louis the Great, King of Hungary and Poland, and his wife Elizabeth of Bosnia. Jadwiga was a member of the Capetian House of Anjou, but she had closer links among the Polish Piasts. The turmoil that erupted after the death of Louis the Great subsided upon the arrival of King Jadwiga to Poland.   According to Jan Dlugosz, a 15-th century Polish historian, King Jadwiga was greeted "with a display of affection" by a  large crowd of clerics, noblemen and burghers. Nobody protested when Archbishop Bodzanta crowned her.  Historians propose that the Polish lords prevented her eventual spouse from acquiring the same title without their consent.   Jadwiga would not be a queen consort, but rather a king, reflective of being queen regnant.  Though she was just a child at her coronation, she grew into wisdom and became a skilled and gracious ruler.  Jadwiga was the greatest ruler in Poland's history and accomplished much during her young life.  Her marriage to Władysław-Jogaila enabled the union of Poland and Lithuania.  She succeeded in preserving peace with the Teutonic Order, which gave Poland the means with which to make preparations for a decisive war against the Knights.  She was involved with many cultural and charitable activities,  established new hospitals, schools and churches, and restored older ones.  Jadwiga was instrumental in promoting the use of the vernacular in church services so that hymns would be sung in Polish.  Even the Holy Scriptures were translated into Polish according to her orders.  Jadwiga was very religious and attended Mass every day.  She was venerated shortly after her death, and many miracles have been attributed to her intervention.  She was beatified on August 8, 1986  by Pope John Paul II, and canonized on August 8, 1986.


Franciszek Charwat, a Polish consul, departed from Kaunas, Lithuania on October 16, 1939 after the Soviet-Lithuanian Treaty was concluded just days earlier. The Treaty guaranteed Lithuania of the inviolability of its sovereignty, and granted Lithuania about one fifth of the Vilnius Region, including the nation's historical capital, Vilnius. But in exchange, Lithuania "accepted" five Soviet military bases with 20,000 Soviet troops stationed throughout Lithuanian territory. To do so was an outright sacrifice of their own independence amid hostile Soviet occupation.  Charwat strongly protested this treaty, but to no avail.  He fled to France with the Polish delegation, where he was accused of arbitrary liquidation of the branch in Kaunas.  (During the interwar period, Kaunas was designated as the temporary capital of Lithuania, whereas Vilnius was the declared capital and was under Polish control from 1920 to 1939.)

The German Luftwaffe launched its first air raid on the British Isles on October 16, 1939.  It's main target was the Royal Naval Home Fleet anchored at Scapa Flow located at the very tip of northern Scotland. Nine Junkers Ju 88s targeted the Firth of Forth, damaging three British ships, the HMS Southampton, the HMS Edinburgh and the destroyer Mohawk,  killing sixteen RAF crewman and wounding 44 others. Three Spitfires from two British squadrons, no.602 and no.603 immediately intercepted the nine Junkers, and shot down two of them, damaging a third. It was the first enemy aircraft to be shot down over the UK since 1918, and the first RAF victory in the Second World War.   The Supermarine Spitfire was developed just prior to the outbreak of World War Two, and became the legendary bastion of British air supremacy during the war. It was the finest aircraft fighter ever built and surpassed planes of the Nazi German Luftwaffe, in speed and maneuverability.  The Junkers JU88 could carry a 2,000 kg (4,410 lb) payload and travel at a speed of 514 km/h (320 mph).  The prototype for the Spitfire MK took its maiden flight on May 14, 1938,  clocking a top speed of 571 km/h  (355 mph) with a range out to  804 km (500 miles), and a service ceiling nearing 10 km ( 34,000 feet).

"Wild Resettlements" Continue: Polish citizens residing in Gdynia were ordered to leave their homes or face arrest and imprisonment in Nazi German concentration camps. Hitler had decreed on September 19, 1939, that Gdynia belonged to Germany, and renamed the Polish port, "Gotenhafen" (Port of Goths). Even before the outbreak of war, the Nazi German Party intended to implement its plan to remove the Polish population from the Pomeranian "corridor" to central and eastern Poland. During October and November of 1939, the plan was carried out by the SS Police, the Wehrmacht, and Selbstschutz branches comprised of local German nationals.  The main targets were Polish businessmen, landowners, and craftsmen, whose assets were of particular interest to the local Germans and authorities. The Nazi Germans seized possession of large apartments in which to set up their headquarters. The  mass "wild displacements" began on October 12, 1939. The Nazi Germans issued its first announcement by radio, and bulletins. Here is a translation to English:   "For safety reasons, I command the evacuation of the Polish population (of the) Orłowo district, excluding Kolibki and Mały Kac, until (sic) Thursday, October 12th 1939 at 9.00."  Over 4,000 Polish people left Gdynia Orłowo on that day, which included about one thousand children.  They all took temporary refuge in the cities in the districts of Grabówek, Chylonia, and Witomino. From there, the Nazis deported them by cattle car to the General Gouvernement  in central Poland. Many Poles perished during the journey due to lack of water, or illness. Others were shot while trying to escape. (The General Gouvernment was the administrative center of Nazi German occupation in Poland. The territory was administered like a vast penal colony. Though Polish Christians were allowed to walk freely, the Nazis regularly rounded up hundreds of Polish citizens (men, women and children) and publicly executed them by machine gun fire, or hung them from lamposts and balconies.)


Nazi Raid of Jewish Ghetto in Rome:  On October 16, 1943 the Gestapo raided the Jewish Ghetto in Rome, and arrested 1,259 Jews, comprising 363 men, 689 women and 207 children.  Of these, 1,023 were deported to the Nazi German Auschwitz death camp. Only 15 men and one woman survived. When the Nazi Germans entered Rome a month earlier, they comprised lists of the Jewish residents of the city, with the intention of later rounding them up. The Nazis demanded 50 kilograms of gold from the Jewish community, and threatened to deport them unless the ransom was paid. Roman citizens (Jews and non-Jews) converged to help in any way by turning over gold jewelry and watches, in an effort to help the Jewish community.  Tragically, the payment did not protect the Jews, but only postponed the inevitable. On this day in 1943,  thousands of Jews went into hiding in many Catholic institutions, and in the Vatican. (According to the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, Pope Pius XII issued a diplomatic protest against the Nazi order to expel the Jews. His Holiness also sheltered many Jews as well as did Rabbi Zolli.)


Nuremberg Trials - Day of Hanging:  Ten of the top Nazi officials were hanged on this day. They were Hans Frank,  Joachim von Ribbentrop, Wilhelm Frick,  Alfred Jodl.  Ernst Kaltenbrunner,  Wilhelm Keitel, Alfred Rosenberg, Fritz Sauckel, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Julius Streicher.  Hermann Goring was the highest ranking Nazi official to be tried at Nuremberg, but he committed suicide two hours before the scheduled execution.  Sentences:  Martin Bormann (sentenced to Death in absentia); Karl Donitz (sentenced, but released 10 years later on a legal technicality); Hans Fritzsche (acquitted);  Walther Funk (sentenced to Life Imprisonment, but released in 1957 due to ill health);  Rudolph Hess (Life Imprisonment, he committed suicide in August 1987);  Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach (medically unfit for trial, he was paralyzed since 1941);  Robert Ley (committed suicide October 1945); Baron Konstantin von Neurath (sentenced to 15 years but released in 1954 due to ill health. He died August 1956); Franz von Papen ( Aquitted following appeal after serving only 2 years); Erich Raeder (sentenced to Life Imprisonment but released in 1955 due to ill health and died in Nov 1960);  Dr. H. Hjalmar Schacht (acquitted, allegations of a conspiracy by British financiers for his release); Baldur von Schirach (sentenced to 20 years, served full sentence); Albert Speer (sentenced to 20 years and served full sentence).


Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyła was elected Pope and took the name John Paul II. He was the first non-Italian elected to the papacy in 455 years. Church bells rang out and a wave of euphoria swept throughout Poland in celebration of this unprecedented event. (However, the election of a Polish Pope upset officials at the Kremlin, who considered it a revolt against Soviet rule, especially amidst the growing unrest among Polish trade unions.)

October 15, 2018




German authorities decreed that any Jews found outside of ghetto walls in Poland would be executed on sight. The document was posted everywhere in Polish and German.  The following is an English translation, " NOTICE   Concerning the sheltering of escaping Jews  There is a need for a reminder, that in accordance with Paragraph 3 of the decree of October 15, 1941, on the Limitation of Residence in General Government (page 595 of the GG Register) Jews leaving the Jewish Quarter without permission will incur the death penalty.    According to this decree, those knowingly helping these Jews by providing shelter, supplying food, or selling them foodstuffs are also subject to the death penalty. This is a categorical warning to the non-Jewish population against:  1) Providing shelter to Jews,  2) Supplying them with Food,  3) Selling them Foodstuffs.     Tschenstochau,  Częstochowa, 24.9.42   Der Stadthauptmann  Dr. Franke."   (Editors comment:  Despite this notice, and reminder, many Jews continued trying to escape from the ghetto, and many Polish people continued to try to help them, at great risk to themselves and their families.)


The Brzesc Ghetto was liquidated from October 15–18, 1942.   20,000 Jewish inhabitants of Brześć were murdered; over 5,000 were executed locally at the Brest Fortress on the orders of Karl Eberhard Schöngarth; and the rest were transported by train under the guise of "resettlement"  to  the secluded forest of the Bronna Góra extermination site. The Reverend Władysław Grobelny from Kobryń near Brześć was executed on October 15, 1942 together with the Jews he was helping. Father Jan Urbanowicz, Dean of the Holy Cross Parish in Brześć, was executed by the Germans in June 1943 for issuing false Christian baptismal certificates for the Polish Jews. Father Mieczysław Akrejć, a Catholic priest from Brześć, contributed 4,000 gold rubles to help the Judenrat pay the huge ransom to the Germans. His efforts were in vain as the Germans liquidated the ghetto a few days later.


On October 15, 1944 at 2:00 pm,  Admiral Miklos Horthy, Hungary's Regent, made a radio broadcast to the nation announcing that he had signed an armistice with the Soviet Union. Shortly after the announcement, the Arrow Cross Party, supported by the Nazi Germans,  seized control of the radio station. This was a Nazi German plan code named Operation Panzerfaust.  The Nazis arrested Horthy, and detained him at the Wafen SS offices. Horthy was ordered to sign a statement renouncing the armistice, on the threat of his son's life, and he signed it.  Later he said, "I neither resigned nor appointed Szálasi Premier, I merely exchanged my signature for my son’s life. A signature wrung from a man at machine-gun point can have little legality." But despite having signed the renunciation, Horthy's son remained in concentration camp until he end of the war, and Horthy was imprisoned at Schloss Hirschberg near Weilheim, Germany, where he was guarded by 100 Waffen SS men at all times.


Pierre Laval Was Executed For Treason:   On October 15, 1945, Pierre Jean-Paul Laval was executed in front of a firing squad at Fresnes Prison, in France. After the trial and sentencing,  Laval attempted to commit suicide but failed. The poison he ingested was not potent enough. He was nursed back to health, and executed on the prescribed day. Laval was a politician in the Vichy regime during World War Two. When France fell, and the Nazi Germans were about to occupy France, Petain formed a new government, appointing Laval as Minister of Justice.  Laval reacted angrily and insisted that he be given the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs.  With his ambitious objectives sated,  Laval joined his Nazi French collaborators in the Vichy regime and met frequently with Hitler.  Laval openly sympathized with fascism and was convinced that the Germans would win the war.  In November of 1940, he unilaterally handed  RTB Bor copper mines and Belgian gold reserves over to the Nazi Germans.


Hermann Goring Committed Suicide:   Goring was a member of the Nazi Party and rose through the ranks to become one of the most powerful officers in the regime.  He established the infamous Gestapo, and was C-C of the Luftwaffe. By 1941 he became leader of the Nazi German armed forces, and was designated by Hitler as his successor.  After the war, Goring was tried at Nuremberg.   He was indicted on four charges, including a charge of conspiracy; waging a war of aggression; war crimes, including the plundering and removal to Germany of works of art and other property; and crimes against humanity, including the disappearance of political and other opponents under the Nacht und Nebel (Night and Fog) decree; the torture and ill-treatment of prisoners of war; and the murder and enslavement of civilians, including what was at the time estimated to be 5,700,000 Jews.  The trial lasted 218 days and the sentence was proclaimed on September 30, 1946. During the proceedings Goring used gestures, shaking his head and even laughing out loud.  He constantly wrote notes and whispered with the other defendants attempting to influence their testimony.  He called the court "stupid" and claimed he did not know most of the other defendants before the trial.   He was sentenced to death by hanging on October 15, 1946.  But before the sentence could be carried out, he ingested a cyanide capsule the night before.

October 14, 2018




The Commission for National Education was formed in Poland:  On October 14, 1773, the Commission for National Education of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was established.  Its purpose was to combine the educational systems of both Poland and Lithuania under one national controlling body,  which would be wholly responsible for education.  The decision for such a commission was imperative, following the decision of Pope Clement IV to dissolve the Jesuit Order.  Previously, education in Poland and Lithuania was conducted mainly by the Jesuits, and without them the educational system would be in left in complete disarray. Lithuanian Vice-Chancellor Joachim Chreptowicz and Bishop of Vilnius, Ignacy Ksiaze Massalski proposed to the Polish - Lithuanian Sejm that such a commission be established not only to continue the work of the Jesuits, but to assume control of all educational matters, and be directly responsible to the Sejm.


German submarine U-47 under the command of Gunther Prien, penetrated the British naval base at Scapa Flow and sank the WWI era battleship HMS Royal Oak. After firing its first torpedo, the enemy submarine turned to make its escape; but, upon realizing that there was no immediate threat from surface vessels, it returned for another attack. The second torpedo blew a 30-foot (9.1 m) hole in the Royal Oak, which flooded and quickly capsized. Of the 1,400-man crew, 833 were lost including Rear Admiral Henry Blagrove. The wreck is now a protected war grave.


The Blitz Continued. The fiercest German attack during the Battle of Britain occurred on October 14, 1940 when 380 German bombers attacked London. British casualties were 200 killed and 2000 injured. British anti-aircraft defences responded with 8,326 rounds of fire power but shot down only two bombers.  When the German bombers returned the next day, they dropped 415 tons of high explosive bombs and 11 short tons of incendiary explosives on London, setting about 900 fires raging throughout the city, and damaging rolling stock, and five main railway lines. During the month of October the Germans dropped a total of  9,000 short tons during the day, and over 6,000 short tons at night. Birmingham and Coventry were hard hit and over the course of the last week of October were hit with  500 short tons of bombs between them.   Liverpool , Hull and Glasgow were also hit.  The Germans dropped about  800 short tons of bombs over Britain.


Mass killing of Jews from Mizocz Ghetto in the Ukraine.  On October 12, 1942,  the Mizocz Ghetto was surrounded by Ukrainian auxiliaries and German policemen in preparation for liquidation action and the pacification of its 1,700 Jewish occupants. The Jews launched an uprising and fought back for two days.  Half of the Jews were able to escape or hide before the uprising was put down.  On October 14, Nazis captured the escapees, and transported them by trunks to an isolated ravine, where they were executed one by one.  The executions were actually photographed. The images were owned by SS-Unterscharführer Schäfer and in 1945 were confiscated and became part of the Ludwigsburg investigation (ZSt. II 204 AR 1218/70). The images had been published, and have become well known.


300 Jews and Soviet POWs escaped from Sobibor:    On October 14, 1943, about 600 prisoners tried to escape Sobibor death camp.  Half of them succeeded in crossing the fence, and fifty managed to evade capture.  Several days after the uprising,  Heinrich Himmler ordered the camp closed, dismantled, and planted with trees. The gas chambers were demolished and their foundations were covered with asphalt and made to look like a road. The Nazis forced the last prisoners still in the camp, to dismantle the buildings, after which they were murdered.  Four of the chambers were uncovered by archaeologists in 2014, using modern technology. Today, the site is occupied by the Sobibór Museum, which displays a pyramid of ashes and crushed bones of the victims, collected from the cremation pits.   After the war, Karol Frenzel, the third-in-command at Sobibór,  was put on trial and convicted of war crimes in 1966. Though he was sentenced to life, he was released after serving sixteen years. He appealed the sentence due to the supposed state of his health.  He was interviewed on tape in 1983, in which he stated the following, "......Poles were not killed there (in Sobibor). Gypsies were not killed there. Russians were not killed there....only Jews, Russian Jews, Polish Jews, Dutch Jews, French Jews."


Riots in Warsaw:  Last week in the heart of Warsaw over a period of four nights, thousands of rioting Polish university students converged chanting taunting shouts of "Gestapo, Gestapo" amid the whomp and hiss of exploding tear-gas canisters. The riots broke out when 2,000 students assembled at the big student hostelry in downtown Narutowicza Square to protest the decision of Wladyslaw Gomulka in banning the student weekly paper, Po Prostu. The paper was Polands' boldest and best-known crusading student weekly.

October 13, 2018




German submarine U-40 struck a mine and sank in the English Channel.   On October 13, 1939, the German submarine U-40 was sunk by a British mine at coordinates 50°41′6″N 00°15′1″E.   The U-boat commander Barten, made a fateful decision on that day to take a shortcut through the English Channel, heading towards the southwest of Ireland. But the English Channel was laid with many naval mines. Barten chose to proceed along the voyage about three and a half hours after high tide, when the mines were not at their lowest point.  The submarine struck one of them and sank to the sea floor. A few crew members were able to escape by the aft hatch and reach the surface. Of the crew, nine died in the attempt to save themselves and five more died from exposure.  Ten hours after the U-boat sank, the remaining survivors were rescued and taken prisoners aboard the British destroyer, the HMS Boreas.


Italy Declared War on Germany:    On October 13, 1943, Italy declared war on its former Axis partner, Nazi Germany and joined the Allies in the battle to defeat the Germans.  The fascist government collapsed in July, with Mussolini toppled from power.  He was replaced by General Pietro Badoglio, Mussolini's former chief of staff.  Badoglio, responding to the request of King Victorio Emanuele, began to negotiate with US General Eisenhower for a conditional surrender of Italy to the Allies.  The Allies had already invaded Sicily in July, driving out the Nazi Germans, and opened up the Mediterranean sea lanes for the first time since 1941.  By September 8, the Allies landed in Salerno, on the mainland, in an operation code-named Operation Avalanche.  The American plan was to launch a surprise attack without previous bombardments, but the German troops were aware of their approach.  As the first allied contingent approached the shoreline, a loudspeaker announced, in English, " Come on in and give up. We have you covered."  Nevertheless, the Americans attacked, despite very heavy German fire power and artillery.  Landing was extremely difficult but the Americans succeeded in capturing the beach heads.


Allied aircraft bombers targeted the city of Aachen,  which was perched on Germany's main defensive network (incorporated into the Siegried Line).  The Allied mission was to capture Aachen quickly so as to advance into the industrialized Ruhr region. The initial attack was launched by the 26th Infantry, which provided insight to the nature of the ongoing battle.  German troops were ambushing the Americans, from hiding places in sewers and cellars.  American troops had to cautiously clear each opening before attempting to advance on any street.  The Sherman tanks could not maneuver adequately amidst  enemy fire.  It was one of the largest battles fought by US forces in WW2,  and the first German city captured by the Allies.  Casualties were heavy on both sides; 5,000 Allied soldiers and about 5,000 Germans, with another 5,600 taken prisoner.

October 12, 2018




In the British House of Commons, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain formally replied to Hitler's so-called peace offer by saying that a settlement "must be a real and settled peace, not an uneasy truce interrupted by constant alarms and repeated threats." Chamberlain further explained, "Herr Hitler rejected all suggestions for peace until he had overwhelmed Poland, as he had previously overthrown Czechoslovakia. Peace conditions cannot be acceptable which begin by condoning aggression. The proposals in the German Chancellor's speech are vague and uncertain and contain no suggestion for righting the wrongs done to Czechoslovakia and to Poland. Even if Herr Hitler's proposals were more closely defined and contained suggestions to right these wrongs, it would still be necessary to ask by what practical means the German Government intend to convince the world that aggression will cease and that pledges will be kept. Past experience has shown that no reliance can be placed upon the promises of the present German Government."


Stanisławów Ghetto Bloody Sunday Massacre:  On October 12, 1941  thousands of Jewish prisoners were forced to gather at the Ringplatz market square for a "selection", upon the orders of Hans Krueger.  Nazi forces, supplemented by the Orpo Reserve Police Battalion 133 from Lemberg, and the Ukrainian police, forcibly marched the prisoners to the Jewish cemetery  where large open pits had already been dug. Along the way, the Ukrainian and German guards brutally beat and tortured the prisoners.  The Jews were forced to surrender their valuables, and were ordered to strip naked and proceed to the edge of the grave sites.  The killing squad opened fire, joined by units of the Nurnberg Order Police and the Bahschutz railroad police.  The victims either fell into the graves or were ordered to jump in before being killed. Between 10,000 and 12,000 Jewish men, women and children were murdered. The killing began at 12 noon and continued for many hours without ceasing.


The Battle of Lenino was a tactical World War II engagement that took place between October 12 and October 13, 1943, north of the village of Lenino in the Mogilev region of Byelorussia. The battle was a segment of a much larger Soviet operation, whose objective was to clear the eastern bank of the Dnieper river of German forces, and thus break through the Panther-Wotan line of defences. Polish and Soviet forces succeeded in breaking through German defences but failed to maintain their advance due to lack of artillery support. They were ordered to hold their ground but relief never arrived. After two days  the Polish 1st Tadeusz Kościuszko Infantry Division had to withdraw its forces, having suffered 25% casualties. The Battle of Lenino is prominent in Polish military history, because it was one of the first major military operation of Polish Armed Forces in the East.

October 11, 2018




Casimir Pulaski died on October 11, 1779. At the Battle of Savannah, while leading a daring charge against British forces, he was gravely wounded, and died shortly after. Pulaski's memory is honored around the world. He was a hero who fought for independence and freedom in both Poland and the United States. Numerous places and events are named in his honor, and he is commemorated by many works of art. Pulaski is one of only eight people to be awarded honorary United States citizenship. (see also March 6, 1745)  Benjamin Franklin was very impressed by Pulaski, and wrote of him: "Count Pulaski of Poland, an officer famous throughout Europe for his bravery and conduct in defence of the liberties of his country against the three great invading powers of Russia, Austria and Prussia ... may be highly useful to our service." Franklin recommended to General George Washington that Pulaski be accepted as a volunteer in the Continental Army cavalry.  He was impressed with Pulaski and noted that he "was renowned throughout Europe for the courage and bravery...displayed in defense of his country's freedom." Pulaski departed France from Nantes in June 1777 and about a month later arrived in Marblehead, Massachusetts, near Boston. Upon his arrival, Pulaski wrote a letter to Washington stating, "....I came here, where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it......"  In 2009 the United States Congress passed a joint resolution conferring honorary U.S. citizenship on Pulaski. It was sent to then- President Barack Obama for approval, which he duly signed on November 6, 2009.  This makes Casimir Pulaski the seventh person to receive such a honour.


Alexander Sachs, a close friend of President Franklin Roosevelt, met with him to discuss a letter written by Albert Einstein, warning FDR of the dangers of nuclear bombs.  In the letter, written in August of that year,  Einstein informed Roosevelt of research on uranium and chain reaction of fission, which would make possible the construction of "extremely powerful bombs".  After some delay,  Roosevelt finally wrote back to Einstein on October 19, 1939, informing him that the US would set up a committee of civilian and military officials to study the matter.  Roosevelt did not want to risk the possibility that Hitler would be the sole nuclear power.  This was the first step by the US that led towards the founding of the Manhattan Project.


General Kazimierz Sosnkowski died on October 11, 1969.   He was a Polish general, an outstanding commander, diplomat, and held a key place in Polish history.  When World War One broke out, Piłsudski formed the 1st Brigade of the Polish Legions, and appointed Sosnkowski as his Chief of Staff and second-in-command.  When Piłsudski instructed the Polish Legion to refuse to swear an oath of allegiance to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, Sosnkowski obeyed, and was subsequently arrested along with his commander and imprisoned in Magdeburg.  At the outbreak of World War Two, Sosnkowski was appointed commander of the Polish group of southern armies, and conducted several victorious battles. But the September 17 invasion by the Soviets made it impossible for Polish troops to continue the fight two enemies along all fronts.  Sosnkowski evacuated Poland, along with many of the Polish armed forces, and the Polish government.  Wearing a disguise, he was able to cross through Soviet occupied Polish territory and enter Hungary. From there he made his way to France.  Polish President-in-exile Władysław Raczkiewicz selected him as his successor, despite the wishes of General Władysław Sikorski.  Genral Sosnkowski was also appointed the Commander of the Union of Armed Struggle (ZWZ).  After the death of General Sikorski in July 1943, Sosnkowski was appointed Commander in Chief.  After Sosnkowski's death, he was buried in France, but in 1992 his ashes were returned to Poland and interred inside St. John'’s Cathedral in Warsaw.