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".

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