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.

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