November 30, 2018




Polish Nobel Prize Winner.  Andrzej Viktor "Andrew" Schally was born on November 30, 1926 and is an American endocrinologist. He was born in Wilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania)  as the son of Gen. Brigadier Kazimierz Schally, who was Chief of the Cabinet of President Ignacy Mościcki of Poland, and Maria (Łącka).  Schally was co-recipient with Roger Guillemin and Rosalyn Sussman Yalow, of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He developed greater understanding concerning the brain's control over the body chemistry. His works also addressed birth control methods and growth hormones. Together with Roger Guillemin he described the neurohormone GnRH that controls FSH and LH.  Schally received an honoris causa Doctors degree from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków.  In September 1939, when Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, Schally managed to escape along with Poland's President Ignacy Mościcki, Prime Minister and the members of the cabinet to the neutral Romania, where they were interned.  " I was fortunate to survive the holocaust while living among the Jewish-Polish Community in Roumania. I used to speak Polish, Roumanian, Yiddish, Italian and some German and Russian, but I have almost completely forgotten them, and my French in which I used to excel is also now far from fluent."


Mass Shootings Near Riga. On November 30 and December 8, 1941,  about 25,000 Jews were murdered in or on the way to Rumbula Forest, located near Riga, Latvia. The Rumbula Massacre was the largest mass killing of Jews, next to the Babi Yar massacre in Ukraine, until the Nazi operations of death camps were underway.  Approximately 24,000 of the victims were Latvian Jews from the Riga Ghetto and about 1,000 were German Jews who had been transported to the forest by train.  The perpetrators were the Nazi Einsatzgruppe A,  and local collaborators of the Arajs Kommando who were supported by other Latvian auxiliaries. Friedrich Jeckeln, an SS officer was in charge of the killings,  had previously organized other massacres in the Ukraine. Rudolf Lange, (who would later take part in the Wannsee Conference) also participated in organizing the massacre. Some of the accusations against Latvian Herberts Cukurs are related to the clearing of the Riga Ghetto by the Arajs Kommando.  In 1943, Himmler ordered that the bodies at Rumbula be dug up and burned in an attempt to eliminate evidence of Nazi German atrocities.  He ordered that the work was to be done by a detachment of Jewish slave laborers.  People who were travelling by rail at that time could easily detect the smell of burning corpses.  In 2001,  Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of the Republic of Latvia,  speaking at a 60 year anniversary memorial service, recalled that as a child during WW2, "......We could smell the smoke coming from Rumbula, where corpses were being dug up and burnt to erase the evidence....."


"Schindler's List" premiered on November 30, 1993 in Washington, DC.  The movie, directed and produced by Steven Spielberg,  is based on the courageous efforts by Oskar Schindler, a German businessman, during World War Two who saved the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories.   The decision to make the film in black and white was to emphasize the documentary nature of the film .  The only color used in the film was that of a little girl wearing a red coat during the scene depicting the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto.  Later in the film, Schindler sees her dead body, which is only recognizable by the red coat.  Spielberg explained that the scene was meant to symbolize the apathy among the highest government levels in the United States - that they knew very well that the Holocaust was happening but did absolutely nothing to stop it.  Spielberg said,  ".....It was as obvious as a little girl wearing a red coat, walking down the street, and yet nothing was done to bomb the German rail lines. Nothing was being done to slow down ... the annihilation of European Jewry," he said. "So that was my message in letting that scene be in color..."  There is other symbolism in the film, which are also very powerful and moving. Stephen Schiff of The New Yorker called it the best historical drama about the Holocaust, a movie that "will take its place in cultural history and remain there." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times described it as Spielberg's best, "brilliantly acted, written, directed, and seen."  While many Jews felt gratitude for such a film to be produced, others felt that the film had shortcomings.  Mr. Imre Kertesz, a Hungarian-Jewish author,  was a Holocaust survivor and stated that it was impossible for anybody to accurately portray what life was like in a Nazi concentration camp, unless they actually experienced it first-hand.  He noted that the final scene of the movie at the graveyard failed to depict the horrible after-effects of the survivors and implied that they came through emotionally unscathed.  (Editors note:  Imre Kertész died on March 31, 2016 at the age of 86, after suffering from Parkinsons disease for several years.  He had been the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Literature, "for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history".  He was the first Hungarian to win the Nobel in Literature. His works dealt with themes of the Holocaust, dictatorship and personal freedom.

November 29, 2018




November Uprising Broke Out.  On November 29, 1830,  an armed rebellion broke out in the heart of occupied Poland, against the Russian Empire.  Polish officers from the local army of the Congress Poland's military academy, led by Lieutenant Piotr Sysocki, attacked the Belweder Palace, the main seat of the Grand Duke. In the midst of the rebellion the Grand Duke Constantine had managed to escape wearing women's clothing.  The Poles were joined by large contingents from Lithuania, Belarus, and the right-bank of the Ukraine.  The rebels then turned to the main city arsenal, capturing it after a brief struggle. And the following day, armed Polish civilians forced the Russian troops to withdraw north of Warsaw. This incident is also referred to as the Warsaw Uprising or the November Night. Despite initial successes by the Poles, the uprising was eventually crushed by the powerful Imperial Russian Army.  Tsar Nicholas I decreed that from then on, Poland was to be integrated as part of Russia, and that the great city of Warsaw would be made little more than a military garrison. Polish Universities were also closed. The final spark that ignited the rebellion was news of a Russian plot to use the Polish Army to suppress France's July Revolution and the Belgian Revolution, which was in violation of the Polish constitution.


German U-35 was scuttled.  On November 29, 1939 the crew of the U-35 scuttled its vessel in the North Sea (coordinates: 60°53′N 02°47′E) following a depth charge launched by the British destroyers Kingston, Icarus, and Kashmir.  The commander of the British fleet, Lord Louis Mountbatten, took an extraordinary initiative by ordering his ships to stop and launch boats to rescue the crew of the German submarine, which was then adrift in water.  All 43 men on board survived and were taken prisoner.   In her short service during WW2, U-35 had conducted two war patrols, sank four allied vessels totaling 7,850 tons, and damaged one vessel of around 6,014 tons.(NB. Lord Mountbatten was the uncle of Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, and second cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II.).


The Velvet Revolution.  On November 29, 1989 the Federal Assembly of then-Czechoslovakia deleted the provision in the constitution which had referred to the "leading role" of the Communist Party, thus officially ending forty-one years of communist rule.  This paramount event was preceded by a twelve day revolution which ended with the vicious beating of protesters.  The victory of the revolution was topped off by the election of Vaclav Havel as President of Czechoslovakia (on December 29, 1989).   Havel negotiated the removal of 73,500 Soviet troops from Czechoslovakian soil,  which was carried out in a few months.  Free elections were held in June 1990 which legitimized the government. The  Presidential agenda called for addressing the remnants of the Communist party's power, and the legacy of the Communist era.  For several months leading up to and during the revolution, citizens disseminated their demands through the massive distribution of flyers sharing their ideals.  One of the most widely circulated flyer was titled "The Eight Rules of Dialogue". It advocated for truth, understanding and empathy, informed and respectful discussion, abstention from ad hominem attacks, and an open mind.  Ideals such as democracy, freedom, nonviolence, fairness, and humanness were major themes, as well as self-organisation, political representation, and improved working conditions.

November 28, 2018




Greatest and Last Victory of Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth:  Battle of Oliwa.  On November 28, 1627, a newly formed, relatively small Polish navy took leave from Danzig, to engage the Swedish navy in battle.  The Swedish navy put a blockade on Poland's sea ports, specifically Danzig, with the objective of maintaining a stranglehold on Poland's trade routes. Poland had ten ships in operation, with a substantial number of crew, placing them in an advantageous postion over the Swedish fleet. The Polish ships flanked the Swedish flagship, the Tigern, overwhelming the Swedes and easily capturing the vessel.  At the same time, the Polish vice-admiral's ship, the small galleon Meerman (Wodnik) attacked the larger Solen ("The Sun"). The captain of the Solen blew his ship up rather than allow it to be captured by the Poles.  The four surviving Swedish ships retreated and headed towards the open sea and managed to escape.  In the aftermath of the battle, the Polish court capitalized on the propaganda, that is, " The Sun (that is the Solen) went down at noon."


The Eternal Jew was a 1940 Nazi German propaganda film which was presented as a so-called "documentary".   Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany's Minister of Propaganda, insisted that the film be directed by Fritz Hippler, who ran the film department for the Propaganda Ministry. Richard Barsam wrote that "essential contrast is between myths and stereotypes of Jews and the Nazi ideal of a 'master race,' between the alleged inferiority of the Jews and the superiority of the Germans."  He argued that Jews were considered "criminals", with no soul, and that "killing them is not a crime but a necessity—just as killing rats is a necessity to preserve health and cleanliness."  In 1946, Fritz Hippler was tried for directing Der Ewige Jude but was not found guilty.  He claimed that the true creator of the film was Joseph Goebbels, with the close supervision of Hitler.   Franz Hippler was interviewed by PBS for the award winning series, Walk Through the Twentieth Century (1983–1984).  During this interview Hippler claimed that he regretted being listed as the director of The Eternal Jew because after the end of the war, he was interrogated by the Allies. He felt that this was unfair, in his opinion because he had not taken part in the killing of the Jews.  In another interview for a German documentary series Holocaust (2000), the then 90 year old Hippler described the film as "the most disgraceful example of antisemitism."


The Big Three at Tehran Conference:   From November 28 to December 1, 1943, Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill met in the Soviet Union's embassy in Tehran, Iran for the Tehran Conference (codenamed Eureka).    It was the first of the conferences of the Big Three in which the leaders planned strategy for the outcome of the war.  It was followed by the Cairo Conference, held from November 22 to 26, 1943; the Yalta Conference from February 4 to 11, 1945, and the Potsdam Conferences from July 17 to August 2, 1945.  The Tehran Conference dealt with the allied relations with Turkey and Iran, operations in Yugoslavia, and against  Japan.  But the main concern was achieving a consensus on opening a second front against Nazi Germany and a post-war settlement. A separate protocol was signed at Tehran, in which the Big Three recognized Iran's independence. Stalin insisted that Poland's eastern border be revised according to the border configuration established by British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon in 1920, ie the Curzon Line.  And in compensation for the loss of Polish territory, the Big Three agreed to move the German-Polish border to the Oder and Neisse rivers.  The decision was eventually ratified at the Potsdam Conference in 1945.

November 27, 2018




The Constitution of the Kingdom of Poland, was signed on November 27, 1815 by the Tsar of Russia. It was a constitution octroyée, that is, decreed by the ruler, and not voted upon by a parliament.  The Congress of Vienna obliged Emperor Alexander I of Russia, and King of Poland, to issue a constitution to the newly recreated Polish state which was under Russian domination. The Polish state was one of the smallest states in Polish history, even smaller than the preceding Duchy of Warsaw, and much smaller than the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Since it was the Congress of Vienna which, de facto created the Kingdom of Poland, it became unofficially known as the Congress Poland. The constitution promised freedom of speech, religious tolerance,  and other freedoms that rendered the document among the most liberal in all of Europe at the time. However, the constitution was never respected by the Russian authorities, whose manipulation and violations prompted growing unrest by the Polish people.  Their discontent led to the failed November Uprising of 1830. (see November 30)

City of Kraków was declared a free republic state by the Congress of Vienna. On November 27, 1815, the Congress of Vienna, declared the Free City of Krakow, a city republic which included its surrounding areas. The city state was jointly occupied by Russia, Prussia, and Austria, and was a hub centre of agitation by the Polish people struggling for an independent Poland.   In 1846, following the unsuccessful Kraków Uprising, the Free City of Cracow was annexed by the Austrian Empire.  The Free City of Kracow had a vast majority of Polish-speaking people - its population consisted of 85% Catholics, 14% of Jews while other religions comprised less than 1%. The city of Kraków itself had a Jewish population almost nearing 40%, while the remainder were  Polish-speaking Catholics. The most notable szlachta family was the Potocki family of magnates, who owned a mansion in Krzeszowice.  The Free City was a duty-free area, and granted privileges to trade with Russia, Prussia and Austria. Not only were there no duties whatsoever, taxes were very low, and numerous economic favors were granted by the neighbouring powers. Consequently, the Free City rapidly grew to become one of the European centres of economic liberalism and supporters of laissez-faire, attracting new enterprises and immigrants.  Weavers from Prussian Silesia had often used the Free City as a contraband outlet to avoid tariff barriers along the borders of Austria and the Kingdom of Poland. However, when Austria annexed the Free City, the Prussian textile exports dropped significantly.


Legia Akademicka was re-activated. A Council of Ministers re-activated the Legia Akademicka,  a paramilitary organization of student volunteers.  It was originally founded on November 11, 1918 comprising students from Warsaw universities and POW members and reformed into a regular infantry unit. In 1929, it was reformed into an organization for the preparation of military listeners of higher schools in Poland, then dissolved in August 1932 and reactivated again in 1937.  Activities included military exercises, lectures in university halls and physical education on sports fields and other sports facilities. The mission of Legia Akademica was to disseminate military knowledge and educate in the spirit of noble Polish militarism as an expression of creative power.


French Fleet Scuttled.  On November 27, 1942, the French fleet at Toulon was scuttled to avoid its capture by Nazi Germans. The Allied invasion of North Africa had provoked the Germans into invading the ‘Free Zone’ (Vichy France) which was officially neutral according to the terms of the 1940 Armistice. Vichy Secretary of the Navy, Admiral Darlan, defected to join De Gaulle and the Free French, who were gaining increasing support from both servicemen and civilians. His replacement, Admiral Auphan, guessed correctly that the Germans were planning to capture the large fleet at Toulon, and issued orders for scuttling these vessels. The French destroyed 77 vessels, including three battleships, seven cruisers, 15 destroyers, 13 torpedo boats, six sloops, 12 submarines, nine patrol boats, 19 auxiliary ships, one school ship, 28 tugs and four cranes. The Nazis captured thirty-nine small ships, most of which had already been disarmed by the French and cleverly sabotaged.  Some of the major ships were ablaze for several days, and the oil spills polluted the harbour so badly that it was unsafe to swim there for two years.

November 26, 2018




Great Polish Poet Died.  Adam Mickiewicz died on November 26, 1855.  Mickiewicz was a prominent figure of the Polish Romantic period, and is considered as one of the greatest poet in the history of Polish literature, the greatest among Slavic and European poets, as well as one of Poland'sThree Bards (the others being Zygmunt Krasiński and Juliusz Słowacki). His was revered and his fame reached cult status. Mickiewicz has been compared in Poland and in Europe with Byron and Goethe. Upon hearing of Mickiewicz' death, Krasiński wrote: "For men of my generation, he was milk and honey, gall and life's blood: we all descend from him. He carried us off on the surging billow of his inspiration and cast us into the world."  One of his great works was the narrative poem, "Konrad Wallenrod"  (1828), which described battles of the Christian order of Teutonic Knights pitted against the Lithuanians. It  is a thinly veiled allusion to the long feud between Russia and Poland,  the subterfuge against a stronger enemy, and an analysis of the moral dilemmas faced by the Polish insurgents who would soon launch the November 1830 Uprising. To the youth of the era, the poem was seen as a "call to arms" and was praised by Ludwik Nabielak, an Uprising leader. But it was considered controversial to the older generation.   Miłosz described Konrad Wallenrod as "the most committed politically of all Mickiewczi's poems." Though the point of the poem was obvious to the Polish people, it escaped the Russian censors and was published without opposition or censorship. 


Ryszard Kaczorowski was born on November 26, 1919 in Bialystok, Poland.  He completed his education in commerce and served as a Scouting instructor of a local branch of the Polish Scouting Association.  When Poland was invaded on September 1, 1939, Kaczorowski created the scouting movement clandestinely (in opposition to Soviet authorities) and became a head of the Białystok banner of the Szare Szeregi.  In 1940 he was arrested by the NKVD and sentenced to death, which was later changed to 10 years in a concentration camp in Kolym.  Following the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement of 1941 he was released among the hundreds of thousands of other Poles, and enlisted in the General Władysław Anders' Army. After having evacuated from the Soviet Union, Kaczorowski joined the 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division, where he completed divisional secondary school. He fought in most major battles of the Polish 2nd Corps, including the Battle of Monte Cassino.  After the war he settled in the United Kingdom as a political emigrant. Following the demobilisation he completed a college course in foreign trade. Until 1986, he worked in business as an accountant. From 1955 to 1967, he was the Chief Scout, and, subsequently, President of the émigré Polish Scouting Union (ZHP). As such, he presided the Polish delegation for the 1957 Jamboree.  From 1989 to 1990 he served as the last President of Poland in exile. He succeeded Kazimierz Sabbat and resigned his post following Poland's regaining independence, and the election of Lech Wałęsa as the first democratically elected president of Poland since World War II. Kaczorowski passed the presidential insignia to Wałęsa, thereby ending the 45-year era of the Polish government in exile.   Tragically, he died in the plane crash on April 10, 2010 in Smolensk, Russia.  On the plane were 96 other dignitaries - the President of Poland Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria,  the chief of the Polish General Staff and other senior Polish military officers, the president of the National Bank of Poland, Polish Government officials, 18 members of the Polish Parliament, senior members of the Polish clergy and relatives of victims of the Katyn massacre. The group was arriving from Warsaw to attend an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, which took place during World War II near  Smolensk.   Conspiracy theories abound that the crash was not accidental, and that the Soviets were responsible for this tragedy.  Opinion polls conducted in 2012 and 2013 indicated that one-third of Poles think it was possible that the Smolensk crash was an assassination.


British ship HMT Rohna was sunk. On November 25, 1943 at 12:30 hrs, Rohna and four other troop ships departed French Algeria and was joined later by Convoy KMF 26 which was passing on its way from Britain to Alexandria.  The next day at around 1630 hrs the convoy, situated just off Bougie was attacked by approximately 30 Luftwaffe Heinkel He 177A heavy bombers, escorted by Junkers Ju 88 aircraft and followed by six and nine torpedo bombers. Meanwhile the convoy was greatly disadvantaged having only limited air escort of four land-based Free French Air Force Spitfires, which were later relieved by RAF Spitfires. The He 177As  launched about 60  Henschel Hs 293 radio-guided, rocket-boosted glide bombs on the convoy.  In return, the convoy launched its combined anti-aircraft fire, and shot down at least two enemy aircraft and damaged several others. The Rohna also joined in the attack, with machine guns, Oerlikon autocannons and about 20 rounds from her 12-pounder gun. In the battle, the Rohna was the only casualty. At about 1715 hrs an He 177A, piloted by Hans Dochtermann, launched a glide bomb, striking Rohna at the after end of her engine room and Number Six troop deck on her port side. Though the impact was about 15 feet (5 m) above the water line,  it flooded the engine room and knocked out all electrical equipment including her pumps, and setting the ship on fire.  About 90 minutes after the missile hit the ship there was a rending noise, probably due to the collapse of a bulkhead aft. Clouds of smoke came from Number Three Hold and the ship settled by the stern, at which point the men threw the last four rafts overboard and abandoned ship. Casualties were 1,138 men killed, which included 1,015 US personnel, five of the Rohna's officers.  The attack was the largest loss of US troops at sea due to enemy action in a single incident. An additional 35 US troops later succumbed to their injuries.  USS Pioneer rescued 606 survivors.

November 25, 2018




Stanisław II Augustus Poniatowski was coronated on November 25, 1795.  He was King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, and the last ruling monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1764 to 1795.  He remains a controversial figure in Polish history. Though he was recognized as a great patron of the arts and sciences, and was praised for initiating and supporting progressive reforms, the Poles criticized that his reforms did not go far enough and that he was overly cautious, the latter which he overtly admitted.  He did not stand up against the partitions nor prevent the destruction of the Polish state. His election to the throne was marred by Russian interference and intervention.  ( The Russians spent about 2.5 million rubles to help in his election.)  In the years following the Second Partition of Poland, he was accused of weakness, subservience, and even of treason.  (nb. After Poniatowski arrived at the Russian imperial court in Saint Petersburg in 1755, he became romantically involved with the future empress of Russia, Catherine the Great.  Due to her influence, and connivance, Poniatowski was elected King of Poland in 1764.  His attempts to implement reforms were futile, and were met with fierce opposition from Prussia, Russia and Austria, all of which intended to keep the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth weak.  )


The ORP Błyskawica was commissioned on November 24, 1937 and served during World War Two. She was the second of two Grom ("Thunderbolt") class destroyers built for the Polish Navy by J. Samuel White, of Cowes, in 1935–37. These ships were among the most heavily armed and fastest destroyers operating during World War II.  On August 30, 1939, just two days before the war broke out, the Blyskawica, along with the destroyers Grom and Burza, secretly withdrew from the Baltic Sea and sailed to Britain. This was in  accordance with the secret Peking Plan, in order to avoid open conflict with Germany and possible destruction of its navy. They reached Leith, Scotland at 17:30 on September 1, 1939, just as Nazi Germany was unleashing its Blitzkrieg on Polish territory.  On September 7,  1939, the Blyskawica joined the British Royal Navy's Home Fleet, and attacked a Nazi U-Boat. The Blyskawica is the only Polish Navy vessel to have been decorated with the prestigious Virtuti Militari, Poland's highest military order for heroism and leadership. She is now preserved as a museum ship in Gdynia and is the oldest preserved destroyer in the world. 


As Soviet troops were advancing closer, Himmler ordered the destruction of Auschwitz gas chambers and crematoria.  The Nazi SS forced the prisoners to dismantle the structures and dynamite them. (Editors note:  There are still revisionists who claim that Himmler's decision to stop the cremation of the Jews, in defiance of Hitler's orders, could have been due to some sudden manifestation of, consciousness or awareness. This is not true. The only reason for ceasing the gassing operations, was to systematically dismantle the ghastly "evidence" of the Nazi killing machines,  Please refer to primary sources of information, that is, archived documents related to the Nuremberg Trials, the Auschwitz Trials, and the International Military Tribunal. )


Auschwitz Trial began in Krakow on November 25, 1947.  Poland's Supreme National Tribunal brought to court 40 former Auschwitz staff as well as the commandant Arthur Liebehenschel, as well as 34 men and four women who had functioned as guards or doctors in the camps.  On December 22, 1947, the trials ended with 23 death sentences, 7 life sentences, and 9 prison sentences which ranged from three to fifteen years. The only person that was acquitted was Hans Münch, an SS doctor who had several former prisoners testify on his behalf.  The following is an explanation given of the Jury Decisions:  "......Torturing of prisoners [of Auschwitz] already tormented to the extreme [by extrajudicial means], is the evidence of inhuman savagery perpetrated by those defendants who as a result of the trial were sentenced to death. The listed violent crimes committed by named defendants, who all took smaller or larger part in the mass murder of prisoners, also reveal that the accused were involved in the acts of killing for pleasure, and not pursuant to orders of their superiors. If it were not for their expressed desire to kill, they would have otherwise displayed elements of sympathy for the victims, or at least show indifference to their plight, but not torture them to death....."


Lech Wałęsa won in Poland's first popular election. The first round of elections was held on November 25,  1990, with a second round on December 9.  This was the first direct presidential elections to be conducted in the history of Poland, and the first free presidential elections since the May Coup of 1926. Prior to World War II,  the Polish presidents were elected by the Sejm. During the Communist era (1952 to 1989), the presidency was replaced by the State Council of Poland, which dealt with most of the presidential duties, and whose chairman was regarded as equivalent to a president. Lech Walesa, leader of the Solidarity movement (Solidarnosc)  won the first round, but since he did not win 50% of the vote, it lead to a runoff election, where he faced his opponent Stanislaw Tyminski, a Polish-Canadian businessman, in the second round. Walesa defeated him easily. ( Despite Tymiński's defeat, he had not only humiliated Mazowiecki (one of the best-known and most-respected figures in Polish politics), but also forced Wałęsa (who at that time was a national hero) into a runoff. After the election Tymiński tried to establish a new political party, but quickly disappeared from the political scene in Poland.)


Polish Minister of National Defence Radek Sikorski officially opened the Warsaw Pact archives on November 25, 2005 to the public. Sikorski commented that some of the documents indicated that the Soviets were prepared to use nuclear weapons in Europe as part of a war with NATO. Also revealed were maps of possible nuclear strikes against Western Europe, including nuclear annihilation of 43 Polish cities by Soviet-controlled forces. He also reported that he was going to donate more than 700 files that were previously secret until now to the Polish National Remembrance Institute.   This is vital information that sheds light on the real events, and how Poland was "kept as an unwilling ally of the Soviet Union during the Cold War."  Other documents shed new light about the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

November 24, 2018




Polish Prince Assassinated:   A meeting of Polish Dukes was organized in the district of Gąsawa (located on the border of Kujawy and Greater Poland) which was attended by Prince Leszek, Władysław Odonic, Henry I the Bearded and Konrad I of Masovia in November 1227,  however Wladyslaw III Spindleshanks, who was most interested in the meeting, did not attend.)  On the morning of November 24, 1227, some men of Władysław Odonic,  with the probable help of Swietopelk II, attacked the princes while they were bathing. Henry I was seriously wounded, but his life was saved  thanks to his faithful knight Peregrinus of Wiesenburg, who covered him with his own body. Prince Leszek managed to escape on his horse half-naked, fleeing to the nearby village of Marcinkowo.  But the assassins caught up to him and murdered him.   (During the early stages of Leszek's reign, his uncle Duke Mieszko III the Old, and cousin Władysław III Spindleshanks contested Leszek's right to be High Duke.)


Maria Amalia Krystyna Wettyn was born on November 24, 1724 in Dresden. Wettyn was a Polish princess, Saxon princess, Neapolitan Queen, Sicilian and Spanish.  She was the eldest daughter of Augustus III , Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, and Maria Józefa Habsburżanka , daughter of Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, King of Bohemia and Hungary,  Józef I of Habsburg .  She married at the age of 14 to King of Naples, Karol III of Bourbon, (future king of Spain . The marriage was a happy one, though it was arranged, and they had about a dozen children.  Ferdinand VI, King of Spain, died childless in 1759,  which made Maria's husband the next king of Spain.  Their eldest son, Philip, Prince of Calabria, was removed from inheritance of the throne due to his mental illness. The second son, Karol, went to Spain with his parents, where he was groomed to take over the Spanish throne after his father's death.  On September  27, 1760, Maria Amelia died of pneumonia.   Her husband was reported to have said, "After 22 years of marriage, it was her first time when Maria Amalia made me unhappy". He never re-married.  The descendants of Maria Amelia include Prince Adam Karol Czartoryski - the cousin of the King of Spain, Jan Karol I Burbon , son of Maria de los Dolores,  Infanta of Both Sicily.


Law Against Dangerous Habitual Criminals, was a Nazi German law passed on November 24, 1935.  Habitual criminals, including those considered "social misfits" or those chronically unemployed, prostitutes, beggars, alcoholics, homeless vagrants, and the Romani,  were all forced to undergo sterilization as well as be incarcerated in prison or Nazi concentration camps.  Nazi policies categorized non-ethnic Germans, such as Jews, Romani,  Slavs (mainly ethnic Poles, Serbs, Russians etc.), and most non-Europeans as inferior non-Aryan subhumans.  The Nazis appropriated the terms "Aryan" thereby placing Germanic peoples at the top of a hierarchy, that is, a so-called master race, and all other ethnic groups as inferior "Untermenschen".  (Editors Note:  Aryans were in fact, an ancient sect of Indo-Iranian people who referred to themselves as Aryan in terms of ethnicity, but also of nobility.  The term had only religious, cultural, and linguistic connotations, and had no racial significance of any kind. Hence the Nazi German use of the term "Aryan" was merely propaganda.)

November 23, 2018




Stanisław Przybyszewski was a Polish novelist, dramatist and poet of the decadent naturalistic school.  He lived for a time in Berlin where he studied architecture, then medicine. He became fascinated by the philosophy of Nietzsche, and began referring to himself as a Satanist, immersing himself in the bohemian lifestyle of the city. He wrote in German as well as Polish.  His greatest work was Homo Sapiens, published in 1896. The story, with ornate language, describes an individual's destruction through alcoholism, deviance, and eroticism, and is believed to have portrayed the author's own experiences in Berlin and Munich. Though it was well received in Germany, its US publisher refused to sell it because it was considered obscene.  It influenced many European youths who were caught up in the fashion of the 'decadent'. He died on November 23, 1927 at the age of 59.


HMS Rawalpindi Was Sunk.  On November 23, 1939 while patrolling north of the Aroe Island, the HMS Rawalpindi was attacked and sunk by two of the most powerful German ships, the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau.  At the time Rawalpindi was investigating a possible enemy sighting, and inadvertently found herself within sights of the two German warships.  The Rawalpindi managed to signal command base of  the German ships position, but its fate was sealed. The Germans demanded surrender, and though she was hopelessly outgunned, 60 year old Captain Edward Coverley Kennedy, decided to fight rather than surrender. It was reported that he said, "We'll fight them both, they’ll sink us, and that will be that. Good-bye".  The German warships attacked  and sank Rawalpindi within 40 minutes.  She did manage to score one hit on Scharnhorst, albeit one of minor consequence which caused just spinter damage. Casualties were 238 men killed on Rawalpindi, including Captain Kennedy. Thirty-seven men were rescued by the German ships, and another 11 were picked up by HMS Chitral.


The Liberation of Strasbourg.  On November 23, 1944, units of the French 2nd Armored Division entered the city and raised the Free French tricolore over Strasbourg cathedral at 2:30 pm.  It was a dramatic and symbolic high point for the rehabilitation of the honor of French armed forces as the Allies advanced across France toward Germany in 1944. Its liberation resulted in an outpouring, a torrent of joy among the French people. General Charles de Gaulle was steadfast that only French forces should retake it. After the victory of Kufra, General Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque and his troops swore an oath to fight until "our flag flies over the Cathedral of Strasbourg".

November 22, 2018




German Raider Cruiser Sunk.  On the morning of November 22,  1941, the German auxiliary cruiser, the Atlantis was intercepted by HMS Devonshire. The German submarine U-126 dived, leaving her captain Rogge, aboard the Atlantis.  At 08:40, Atlantis transmitted a report posing as the Dutch ship Polyphemus, but by 09:34, the Devonshire obtained confirmation that this report was false.  From a distance of 14–15 km (8.7–9.3 mi), far enough outside the range of Atlantis's guns, the Devonshire opened fire with her 8 in (200 mm) battery.  The second and third salvos hit the Atlantis killing seven sailors, as the remainder of the crew abandoned ship. Its commander, Bernhard Rogge was the last one off. Ammunition exploded, the bow rose into the air, and the ship sank.  The Atlantis was referred to by the Germans as Schiff 16, while the Brits called it Raider-C.  The Atlantis was a merchant raider whose only aim was to attack enemy merchant shipping (and not to engage warships). Success was measured in terms of total tonnage destroyed,  making the Atlantis second to Pinguinand for the longest raiding career in the Kriegsmarine during the war. She also captured highly secret documents from SS Automedon.  From May 3, 1940 to September 10, 1941 the Atlantis destroyed 145,960 of Allied tonnage, comprising mostly freighters and tankers from the United Kingdom and Norway.  The firepower of the Atlantis was impressive.  All the ships guns were hidden, mostly behind pivotable false deck or side structures. There was even a fake crane and deckhouse on the aft section which concealed two of the 150 mm (5.9 in) guns;  the other four guns were hidden by flaps in the side that were raised whenever action was imminent.  In addition there were four waterline torpedo tubes, a 92-mine compartment. and two Heinkel He-114C seaplanes in one of its holds (one of these was fully assembled while the other one was packed away in crates.)   ( A version of the story of Atlantis was told in the film, "Under Ten Flags" with Van Heflin appearing as Captain Rogge. )


U.S. President John F. Kennedy Was Assassinated.  John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated on Friday, November 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m. in Dallas, Texas, while riding in a presidential motorcade through Dealey Plaza.  Kennedy was riding with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and Connally's wife, Nellie, when Kennedy was fatally shot. Governor Connally was seriously wounded but survived the attack. The motorcade rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital where President Kennedy was pronounced dead about thirty minutes after the shooting.  Former U.S. Marine Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested by the Dallas Police Department 70 minutes after the initial shooting. Oswald was charged under Texas state law with the murder of Kennedy as well as that of Dallas policeman J. D. Tippit, who had been fatally shot a short time after the assassination. At 11:21 a.m. Sunday, November 24, 1963, as live television cameras covered his transfer to the Dallas County Jail, Oswald was fatally shot in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters by Dallas nightclub operator Jack Ruby. Oswald was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital where he soon died. Ruby was convicted of Oswald's murder, though it was later overturned on appeal, and Ruby died in prison in 1967 while awaiting a new trial.  After a ten-month investigation, the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald assassinated Kennedy, that Oswald had acted entirely alone, and that Ruby had acted alone in killing Oswald. Conspiracy theories have circulated for decades, proposing that other parties were complicit in the assassination, such as the CIA, the Mafia, and Fidel Castro, among others. Public opinion polls have shown that a vast majority of American citizens believe that there was  a conspiracy and a coverup.


Stalin's daughter Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva died on November 22, 2011. She was the youngest child and only daughter of Joseph Stalin and Nadezhda Alliluyeva, Stalin's second wife.  On November 9, 1932, her mother, Nadezhda, at the age of 31, shot herself in the head following a public spat with Stalin at a dinner party over the effects of the government's collectivization policies on the peasantry. The official announcement was that Nadezhda died from appendicitis In 1967.  When Alliluyeva was 16 years of age, she fell in love with Aleksei Kapler, a Jewish Soviet filmmaker who was 38 years old. Her father vehemently disapproved of the romance and ordered Kapler sentenced to ten years in labor camps near Vorkuta and Inta. She was beset by a series of failed marriages and romances after that.   After her father's death in 1953, Alliluyeva worked as a lecturer and translator in Moscow.  Though her training was in history and political thought, topics which Stalin forced her to study, her passion was literature and writing.  In 1963, she wrote her memoirs, the manuscript which was smuggled out of the country by Ambassador T. N. Kaul, who returned it to her in New Delhi.  She later handed the memoirs to Robert Rayle, a CIA agent, at the time that she defected to the United States. The book was titled, "Twenty Letters to a Friend" and was described as Alliluyeva's attempt to blame Stalinist crimes onto Laventiy Beria, and whitewash her own father.

November 21, 2018




The Lwów pogrom broke out during the Polish-Ukrainian War that followed the end of World War One.  The pogrom lasted from November 21 to 23, 1918.   and targeted the Jewish residents of the city; from 50 to 150 Jews were slaughtered, and hundreds more injured. Altogether there were about 340 victims. The perpetrators included Polish soldiers and militia, lawless civilians of various nationalities, and local criminals.  Reports indicated that there were also non-Jewish casualties, mainly Ukrainian, and that their fatalities outnumbered those of the Jews.  Over a thousand people, including some soldiers, were arrested by Polish authorities during and after the pogrom. The Lwow pogrom made international news, and US President Woodrow Wilson appointed a commission, led by Henry Morgenthau, Sr., to investigate the violence inflicted against the Jewish population in the Poland (The nation had just regained its sovereignty after 123 years of partitions by neighboring empires. The Morgenthau Report was published on October 3, 1919. (Editors note:  The famous historian Norman Davies called attention to the use of the word "pogrom" in relation to these events. He wrote that  " has to wonder whether a massacre in which the majority of victims were Christians can fairly be described as a "pogrom".  Davies clarified that two distinct atrocities had occurred;  a pogrom of Jews instigated by Polish anti-seminitism; and a military massacre, four times as large, instigated by Polish anti-Ukrainianism.....)


HMS Gipsy Sank:   HMS Gipsy was a G-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy during the 1930s. After WWII, she was transferred to the British Isles to escort shipping in local waters.  Less than a month later she struck a mine outside Harwich and sank with the loss of 30 of her crew. Her wreck was salvaged and slowly scrapped over the course of the war.  The Gipsy had escorted the destroyers Griffin, Keith, Boadicea, ORP Burza and ORP Grom  (the latter two were Polish destroyers of the Polish Navy), to hunt for U-Boats that might be mine-laying in the North Sea. Just outside the harbour boom she triggered one of the two magnetic mines dropped about 2 hours earlier by two German seaplanes, and, almost broken in half, sank on the edge of the deep-water channel. 31 of her crew, including the captain, Lt-Cdr Crossley, were killed or fatally injured, 115 were rescued by the other destroyers and by harbour launches. The investigation that followed ascertained that harbor defences had been on alert, and had actually seen and plotted both the seaplanes and their mines, however, their reporting was inaccurate. Though the Harwich admiral had told the destroyers to hug the side of the channel opposite to where the mines fell, he did not offer explanations, nor indicate that the ships were in any particular danger. Apart from those on the bridge, Gipsy's crew were unaware of any danger at all, and as a result some had gone to sleep below decks. There was no contingency plan to ready the lifeboats.


German Attacks Intensified.  The British War Cabinet reported that during the week the Germans increased the frequency of long range night-bomber sorties more than at any other time during the war. During the night of November 19 to 20, about 500 enemy aircraft were launched, making it the highest number recorded on any night against England. There was a greater frequency of night bombings from November 14 to 20, mostly over Coventry, London, and Birmingham.  Civilian casualties for the week ended November 21 were 1,190 killed, 3,738 injured.  London suffered 484 killed and 1,080 injured,  Coventry, 380 killed and 800 injured; and Birmingham (with West Bromwich), 228 killed and 802 injured in the three raids.  The number of unexploded bombs during the week was 801, 363 less than last week. The total remaining for disposal is 2,939, a reduction of 130.

November 20, 2018




Trotsky was assassinated.  On November 20, 1940 Leon Trotsky was assassinated by Ramon Mercader, a Spanish-born NKVD agent, wielding an ice axe. Trotsky died in hospital the following day.  Mercader was almost beaten to death by Trotskys bodyguards, and spent the next 20 years in a Mexican prison.  Apparently, Mercader had acted upon the orders of Stalin, who later awarded him the prestigious Order of Lenin, in absentia.  Trotsky's ideology formed the basis of Trotskyism, a major school of Marxist thought that opposed the theories of Stalinism. Trotsky was written out of the history books under Stalin, and was one of the few Soviet political figures who was not rehabilitated by the government under Nikita Khrushchev in the 1950s.  Trotsky considered himself a "Bolshevik-Leninist", arguing for the establishment of a vanguard party. He considered himself an advocate of orthodox Marxism.

Hungary signed the Tripartite Pact on November 20, 1940. It was a military alliance of Germany, Italy, and Japan. They were joined by Romania on November 23, 1940; Bulgaria on March 1, 1941; and Yugoslavia on March 25, 1941), as well as by the German client state of Slovakia on November 24, 1940. The Tripartite Pact was directed at the United States however its effects were limited, since the Italo-German and Japanese operational theatres were on opposite sides of the world and the high contracting powers had disparate strategic interests.  An excerpt of the Pact reads as follows:  "The Governments of Japan, Germany, and Italy consider it as the condition precedent of any lasting peace that all nations in the world be given each its own proper place, have decided to stand by and co-operate with one another in their efforts in Greater East Asia and the regions of Europe respectively wherein it is their prime purpose to establish and maintain a new order of things, calculated to promote the mutual prosperity and welfare of the peoples concerned. It is, furthermore, the desire of the three Governments to extend cooperation to nations in other spheres of the world that are inclined to direct their efforts along lines similar to their own for the purpose of realizing their ultimate object, world peace......."


"The Greatest Trial in History" was the comment spoken by Norman Birkett, who was one of the British judges who presided over the Nuremberg trials after World War Two.  They were a series of military tribunals conducted by the Allied forces under international law in which prominent Nazi German leaders were prosecuted for having participated in the Holocaust, and other war crimes.  The trials were held in Nuremberg, Germany from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946, and tried 24 of the most important military and political leaders of the Third Reich.  Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Wilhelm Burgdorf, Hans Krebs and Joseph Goebbels had committed suicide in the spring of 1945 to avoid capture, however, Himmler was captured before his suicide. Krebs and Burgdorf committed suicide two days after Hitler in the same place.   Reinhard Heydrich had been assassinated by Czech partisans in 1942. Josef Terboven killed himself with dynamite in Norway in 1945. Adolf Eichmann fled to Argentina, but was captured by Mossad, the Israel's intelligence service; he was hanged in 1962. Hermann Göring was sentenced to death but committed suicide the night before his execution as a perceived act of defiance against his captors. Miklós Horthy appeared as a witness at the Ministries trial held in Nuremberg in 1948. The Nuremberg indictment used the word "genocide" for the first time in international law, "the extermination of racial and national groups, against the civilian populations of certain occupied territories in order to destroy particular races and classes of people and national, racial, or religious groups, particularly Jews, Poles, and Gypsies and others."

November 19, 2018




General Kazimierz Sosnkowski (dob 1885) was a Polish nobleman, independence fighter, diplomat, architect, politician and a Polish Army general.   Following the outbreak of the First World War Piłsudski formed the 1st Brigade of the Polish Legions, appointing Sosnkowski as his Chief of Staff and second-in-command. During the Oath crisis, when Piłsudski instructed the Polish Legion to refuse to swear an oath of allegiance to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, Sosnkowski was arrested along with his commander and imprisoned in Magdeburg.  After the end of the war he was released and became Deputy Minister for Military Affairs in the Polish Second Republic, serving in that position during the Polish-Soviet War. Between 1920 and 1923 he was Minister for Military Affairs. Subsequently, he served in a number of diplomatic roles, including a brief period as Polish Representative to the League of Nations. In 1925 he returned to active duty as Commander of the VII Corp District. During the Polish-Soviet war of 1920 he at first commanded the northern front (where his leadership was harshly criticized by other commanders). After the German invasion of 1939 he proposed forming a group of armies in the regions of Warsaw, Poznań, Pomerania and Łódź. This was rejected by Rydz-Śmigły due to the lack of coordination in the region of Warsaw and Kutno, and eventually resulted in the Polish defeat at the river Bzura. On September 10, 1939 he was appointed commander of the group of the southern armies and conducted several victorious battles. However the Soviet invasion of September 17, 1939 made it impossible to continue the war effort. Sosnkowski disguised himself and crossed the Soviet occupied territory of Poland, through Hungary and arrived in France in October 1939. In November 1939 he was selected by President-in-exile Władysław Raczkiewicz as his successor (against the wishes of General Władysław Sikorski). He was also appointed the Commander of the Union of Armed Struggle (ZWZ). In 1941, he resigned from the Polish Government in Exile protesting lack of specifics regarding Polish eastern borders. After the tragic death of General Sikorski in July 1943, Sosnkowski officially became the Commander-in-Chief.


Bruno Schulz (died November 19, 1942) was a Polish Jewish writer, fine artist, literary critic and art teacher.  He is regarded as one of the great Polish-language prose stylists of the 20th century. In 1938, he was awarded the Polish Academy of Literature's prestigious Golden Laurel award. Several of Schulz's works were lost in the Holocaust, including short stories from the early 1940s and his final, unfinished novel The Messiah. Schulz was shot and killed by a German Nazi in 1942 while he walking back home toward Drohobycz Ghetto with a loaf of bread.  Schulz possessed an extraordinary imagination and an endless array of identities and nationalities. He was a Jew but thought and wrote in Polish and was fluent in German. Though he was immersed in Jewish culture, he was unfamiliar with the Yiddish language. His inspiration came from local and ethnic sources, rather than from the world at large.  He avoided travel, and chose to remain in his provincial hometown, which over the course of his life had been subjected to occupation or wars.

Soviet troops encircled Axis forces.  From November 19 to 23, 1942, the Soviet army launched Operation Uranus in the attempt to encircle the German sixth Army, the Third and Fourth Romanian armies, and portions of the German Fourth Panzer Army.  The operation was executed at about midway in the five month long Battle of Stalingrad, and aimed at destroying German forces in and around Stalingrad.  The Red Army took advantage of the German army's lack of preparation for the bitter Soviet winter, the fact that German forces were overstretched near Stalingrad, and their lack of heavy equipment to deal with Soviet armor.  Operation Uranus trapped between 250,000 and 300,000 Axis soldiers within an area stretching 50 kilometers (31 mi) from east to west and 40 kilometers (25 mi) north to south, as well as equipment such as 100 tanks, 2,000 artillery pieces and mortars and 10,000 trucks. The withdrawal to Stalingrad resulted in lines of retreat littered with helmets, weapons and other equipment, and heavy equipment which had been destroyed was left on the side of the road. Bridges spanning the Don River were jammed with traffic, as surviving Axis soldiers hastily made their way eastwards in the cold weather, in the attempt to escape the advancing Soviet armor and infantry.

November 18, 2018




The Treaty of Vienna or Peace of Vienna was signed on November 18, 1738, ending the War of the Polish Succession.  It was one of the last international treaties written in Latin (together with the Treaty of Belgrade signed the following year). According to the terms stipulated by the treaty, Stanisław Leszczyński renounced his claim on the Polish throne and recognized Augustus III, Duke of Saxony.  As compensation he received instead the Duchy of Lorraine and Bar, which was to pass to France upon his death. He died in 1766. Francis Stephen, who was the Duke of Lorraine, was indemnified with the vacant throne of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the last Medici having died in 1737. France also agreed to the Pragmatic Sanction in the Treaty of Vienna. In another provision of the treaty, the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily were ceded by Austria to Duke Charles of Parma and Piacenza, the younger son of King Philip V of Spain. Charles, in turn, had to cede Parma to Austria, and to give up his claims to the throne of Tuscany in favor of Francis Stephen.


Hans Frank created the Judenrat.  On November 18, 1939, Hans Frank, head of the Nazi German General Gouvernment, ordered the creation of the Judenrat. These were Jewish councils having 12 members each from Jewish communities (from Jewish communities of less than 10,000 people), and councils of up to 24 members (for larger Jewish communities).  The members of the Judenrat were elected by the Jewish citizens, and results to be submitted to the German city controlling officers.   Despite the emphasis on local voting, the council members were really picked by the Germans. Many Jews refused to accept the role for fear of being exploited by the Germans.  Eventually, it became the rule to select the traditional speaker of the community, in an effort to give the impression of continuity. The German plan was to weaken Jewish resistance, and used the Judenrat as a tool towards that end.  Among the tasks of the Judenrat was to report census of Jewish populations,  clear vacant residences and turn them over, provide Jewish workers for forced labour, confiscate valuables, and collect tribute, turning all valuables over to the Nazi Germans.  Failure to comply to German orders would result in severe collective punishment.  As the war progressed, the role of the Judenrat became even more sinister and gruesome:  the Judenrat leaders were forced  to select Jews for deportation to the death camps, leading to massive number of Jewish deaths. (Editors note:  Through the cooperation of the Judenrat, the Germans were able to exterminate vast number of Jews, with little opposition. However, later on during the war, numerous ghetto uprisings erupted when the Germans attempted to liquidate the ghettos. Though it was too little, too late, the collective Jewish consciousness was such that it was better to fight than to die on one's knees.)


Operation Crusader Failed.  The British Eighth Army instigated the operation from November 18 and December 30, 1941,  against the Axis forces in North Africa.  The operation was intended to relieve the 1941 Siege of Tobruk and destroy the Axis armoured force before advancing. However the plan failed, and the British 7th Armoured Division was defeated by the Afrika Korps at Sidi Rezegh.


First British Bombing Raid on Berlin:  On the night of November 18 and 19,  the RAF launched their first raid.  440 Avro Lancaster heavy bombers and four de Havilland Mosquitos attacked their main target - Berlin.  Damage however was not severe as the city was under cloud.  The second major raid was on the night of November 22 to 23, 1943. This was the most effective raid on Berlin by the RAF of the war, causing extensive damage to the residential areas west of the centre, Tiergarten and Charlottenburg, Schöneberg and Spandau. Because of the dry weather conditions, several firestorms ignited. Both the Protestant Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, now serving as a war memorial, and the New Synagogue (then used as a store house by the Wehrmacht), were badly damaged on 22 November 1943.  The Battle of Berlin was the British bombing campaign on Berlin which lasted from November 1943 to March 1944. Other German cities were bombed in an attempt to prevent the Germans from concentrating their defences in Berlin. The campaign was launched by Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, AOC-in-C of RAF Bomber Command in November 1943. Harris believed this could be the blow that broke German resistance: "We can wreck Berlin from end to end if the USAAF come in with us. It will cost us between 400 and 500 aircraft. It will cost Germany the war". By this time he could deploy over 800 long-range bombers a night, equipped with new and more sophisticated navigational devices such as H2S radar. Between November 1943 and March 1944, Bomber Command made 16 Main Force attacks on Berlin. The USAAF, having recently suffered heavy losses in its attacks on Schweinfurt, was unable to participate. (The Analysis:  In 1961,  British historians, Charles Webster and Noble Frankland verified that British Bomber Command had dispatched 16 raids totaling 9,111 sorties on Berlin. The attacks cost the British, 492 aircraft, their crews killed or captured and 954 aircraft damaged, a rate of loss of 5.8 per cent, surpassing the 5 per cent threshold that was estimated by the RAF to be the maximum sustainable operational loss rate.  While the Battle of Berlin managed to divert German military resources away from the land war, and that it had an economic impact in inflicting physical damage, worker fatalities and injuries, relocation and fortification of industrial buildings and other infrastructure, by April 1944, the campaign failed to expedite German capitulation.)

November 17, 2018




The Battle of Krzywoploty took place on November 17 - 18 , 1914, near the village of Krzywoploty ( which at the time was the Congress Poland, controlled by Russia, and located near the border with Austrian Galicia. Two battalions (440 soldiers) of 1st Regiment of Polish Legions in World War I (part of Austro-Hungarian Army) clashed with the Imperial Russian Army, in an attempt to stop a Russian offensive. Polish battalions were commanded by Captain Mieczyslaw Rys-Trojanowski and Captain Ottokar Brzoza-Brzezina.  On November 17, the 4th and 6th Battalions, backed by field artillery, took positions on the hill of Holy Cross, located between Krzywoploty and Bydlin, while Russian troops were located in forests by Domaniewice.  The battle was won by the Polish Legions which successfully managed to halt Russian offensives, though Polish casualties were very heavy - 46 KIA and 131 wounded or captured.  All those who perished in the battles, the Polish, Austrian, and Russians were buried in a cemetery at Bydlin.


Fascist Italy enacted anti-semitic laws such as Regio Decreto  Nr. 1728. It restricted the civil rights of Jews in Italy,  banned their books and excluded Jews from public office and higher education. Subsequent laws stripped Jews of their assets, restricted their travel and finally imposed internal exile, as was done to political prisoners. (nb: Conversely, in 1929, Mussolini declared that Italian Jews represented a demographically small yet culturally integral part of Italian society since Ancient Rome. This view was consistent with his early Mediterraneanist viewpoint, in which all Mediterranean cultures, including the Jewish culture, shared a common bond, and that Jews had become "Italians" or natives to Italy after such a long period on the peninsula.)   Apparently Mussolini's views on race were contradictory, and fluctuated when politically expedient, that is, when Fascist Italy bowed under the yoke of Nazi Germany. 


German submarine U-331 was sunk on November 17, 1942, north of Algiers at coordinates 37°05′N 2°27′E.  She was attacked by a Lockheed Hudson bomber of No. 500 Squadron RAF, which caused her forward hatch to be jammed, preventing the sub from diving.  She signalled a surrender, and the British destroyer HMS Wilton was ordered to seize the submarine. But an airstrike by three Fairey Albacore torpedo-bombers from 820 Naval Air Squadron escorted by two Grumman Martlet fighters of 893 Naval Air Squadron was launched from the British aircraft carrier HMS Formidable against the damaged submarine.  The Martlets was unaware of any surrender signals, and proceeded to strafe the U-boat.  It was finally sunk by a torpedo dropped onto it from one of the Albacores.  Casualties were 32 crew killed. The commander and 17 crew survived.

November 16, 2018




Gobbels published another screed against the Jews.  On November 16, in 1941, he published an article featured in the magazine, Das Reich, titled, " The Jews wanted the war, and now they have it."  Though Nazi Germany started the war, they sought to blame European Jewry, and make them the scapegoats. This gave the Nazis a way to rationalize the atrocities perpetrated against the Jews and their final extermination. The following is an excerpt from his article:  ".....Every Jew is our enemy in this historic struggle, regardless of whether he vegetates in a Polish ghetto or carries on his parasitic existence in Berlin or Hamburg or blows the trumpets of war in New York or Washington. All Jews, by virtue of their birth and their race, are part of an international conspiracy against National Socialist Germany. They want its defeat and annihilation, and do all in their power to bring it about......" (Editors note:  This is one example of the many Nazi German propaganda that still prevails today.  The Nazis knew that if a lie is repeated many times, people will begin to believe it as if it were true. Read about this and other topics in my posts regarding WW2 Propaganda: War of Words - in four parts)


Hitler Assassination attempt failed.  Axel von dem Bussche (Baron Axel von dem Bussche was a German officer and member of the German underground resistance.  He  planned to assassinate Adolf Hitler in coordination with his colleague Claus von Stauffenberg on November 16, 1943 at the Wolfsschanze.   Hitler was scheduled to inspect new Army winter uniforms at his Führerhauptquartier Wolfsschanze, near Rastenburg in Eastern Prussia (today the city is located in Poland). Bussche was the perfect model for the uniforms due to his "Aryan" good looks (he was very tall, blond and had blue eyes).  Bussche was equipped a landmine with a fast reacting hand grenade detonator, which he planned to hide in his uniform pockets, and detonate the bomb just as he was going to embrace Hitler, thereby killing himself and Hitler.  Unfortunately,  the new uniforms were destroyed the night before during an Allied raid on the railway truck transporting the uniforms, and the plan had to be called off.


Operation Queen was an Allied failure:  On November 16, 1944, an Anglo-American operation was launched in an attempt to invade the heart of the Rhine into Germany.  The operation was conducted by the First and Ninth U.S. Armies, employing one of the heaviest Allied tactical bombings of the war.  However,  Allied advance was unexpectedly slow, against heavy German resistance, especially in the Hürtgen Forest through which the main thrust of the offensive was carried out. By mid-December the Allies were finally able to reach the Rur and tried to capture its important dams, but were faced by fierce German offensive.  The Battle of the Bulge ensued, but led to the cessation of Allied offensive efforts into Germany until February 1945.

November 15, 2018




The Free City of Danzig (now Gdansk) was a semi-autonomous city-state that was created on November 15, 1920  in accordance with the terms of Article 100 (Section XI of Part III) of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles after the end of World War I.  The city region comprised of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland), and about 200 towns and villages in the surrounding areas. The Free City was to be represented abroad by Poland and was to be in a customs union with it. The German railway line that connected the Free City with newly created Poland was to be administered by Poland, as were all rail lines in the territory of the Free City.  A separate Polish post office was established, besides the existing municipal one.  However, the territory was under the mandate of the League of Nations, and the role of High Commissioner was held by various representatives of member nations. The city existed until 1939 when WWII broke out, and Germany annexed the City into the German Reich.  During the interwar period the Germans openly attacked the Polish minority with racist slurs and harassment. German students attacked the Polish consulate, and were praised for it by the Nazi authorities.  Several disputes between Danzig and Poland arose; the Germans of the Free City protested against the Westerplatte depot, the placement of Polish letter boxes within the City,  and the presence of Polish war vessels at the harbour.


Anti-Nazi demonstration at Czech funeral for Jan Opletal.  Opletal was a medical student at Charles University in Prague, who was shot by the Nazis on October 28, 1939 during an anti-Nazi demonstration during Czechoslovak Independence Day.  He died two weeks later from severe injuries.   On November 15, 1939 his funeral procession made its way through Prague. There were more than 3,000 students present during the memorial and chapel services. Hundreds of students followed his casket afterwards, with more citizens joining along the way.  By the time the procession reached the station for transport to his native village in Moravia, the crowd had swelled to thousands of people, chanting the Czech hymn Kde domov můj.   But upon arrival to Charles Square, the mourners were confronted by the Czech police, and had to find safety in one of the campus buildings.  The authorities permitted them to leave only in small groups under close surveillance, but the students later rallied together in a procession of several thousand students, and attempted to break through the city center, in another anti-Nazi demonstration.  Consequently, the Reichsprotektor Konstantin von Neurath, the Nazi-representative heading the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia,  instigated the so-called Sonderaktion Prag on November 17, 1939. He ordered all Czech universities and colleges to be closed, had 1,850 students arrested and ordered the execution of nine student leaders, including František Skorkovský.  More than 1,200 Czech students were interned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.  The murder of Jan Opletal and closure of the Prague University led to solidarity demonstrations at the University of Belgrade on November 18,  1939.  Today International Students' Day is observed every November 17 in remembrance of the students who were killed or sent to concentration camps for opposing the Nazis.


The Nazi Germans closed the Warsaw Ghetto on November 15, 1940.  The wall reached a height of 3 metres and topped with barbed wire.  Any Jews caught trying to escape from the ghetto were shot on sight.  German policemen from Battalion 61 held victory parties on days when large numbers of Jews were murdered at the ghetto wall.  The borders of the ghetto were gradually reduced as the imprisoned Jews began to succumb to the ravages of infectious diseases, starvation, and frequent executions.  Over 400,000 Jews were imprisoned within the ghetto walls. In an area of 3.4 km2 (1.3 sq mi), an average of 9 people were crammed into each room, barely subsisting on meager food rations.  An average daily food ration in 1941 for Jews in Warsaw was restricted to 184 calories, compared to 699 calories allowed for the gentile Poles and 2,613 calories for the Germans  From the Warsaw Ghetto, Jews were deported to Nazi German death camps. In the summer of 1942, under the guise of "resettlement"  at least 254,000 Ghetto residents were deported to the Treblinka extermination camp.   At least 300,000 Jews of the ghetto were killed by bullet or by gas, in addition to the 92,000 victims who perished from starvation and related diseases.


Gypsies were deported to concentration camps. Himmler declared that Gypsies and  those who were of mixed Gypsy heritage were to be considered on “the same level as Jews and placed in concentration camps.”  The Nazi plan was the elimination from Germany, and from all annexed territories, people of races which were considered inferior, such as gypsies, Jews, Slavs, and hardened criminals.  The camp authorities segregated the Roma people in a section of the camp called, the "Gypsy family camp." They were forced to wear brown or black triangular patches, symbolizing "asocials", or green patches symbolizing professional criminals.   Approximately 23,000 Roma, Sinti and Lalleri were deported to Auschwitz.  Just as there were organized Jewish resistance in almost every large ghetto and concentration camp, the Roma also attempted to resist Nazis attempts to exterminate them. A documented case occurred at Auschwitz in May 1944, when Nazi SS guards attempted to liquidate the Gypsy Family Camp. They were "met with unexpected resistance". The Roma refused to come out when ordered to do so, and were armed with crude makeshift weapons, such as shovels, and iron pipes that were used during forced labor.  The SS withdrew for several months, rather than confront them directly.  Instead the SS transferred about 3,000 Roma to Auschwitz I, and other concentration camps, and then moved in against the remaining 2,898 prisoners, exterminating nearly all of them, mostly the ill, the elderly, women and children in the gas chambers at Birkenau.  At least 19,000 of the 23,000 Roma sent to Auschwitz were murdered there.

November 14, 2018




On November 14, 1918, Piłsudski was asked to supervise the provisional government of Poland. Several days later he was officially bestowed the title of Provisional Chief of State of the Second Polish Republic, by the government of Jędrzej Moraczewski.  After Poland re-emerged as a nation-state following the end of WWI, Pilsudski was in command of Polish forces in six border wars.  In the Polish-Soviet War, Pilsudskis' forces seemed on the verge of defeat, but in August 1920 the Battle of Warsaw, the Poles succeeded in defeating the invading Soviets, to their utter humiliation.  In 1923 Pilsudski withdrew from active politics (the Polish government was under control of his opponents, in particular the National Democrats.) Three years later he returned to power in the May 1926 coup d'état and became Poland's supreme leader. Jozef Pilsudski is regarded as the Father of the Second Polish Republic.


Polish Solidarity Chairman Lech Wałęsa was freed on November 14, 1982 after having been imprisoned for 11 months.  He and other Solidarity activists were arrested following the crackdown imposed by General Wojciech Jaruzelski.  Walesa is the founder of the Solidarity movement (Solidarnosc), and was relentlessly persecuted, surveilled, and arrested several times by the Communist authorities. In August 1980 he was instrumental in political negotiations that led to the ground-breaking Gdańsk Agreement between striking workers and the government.   He was also prominent in the establishment of the 1989 Round Table Agreement that led to semi-free parliamentary elections in June 1989 and to a Solidarity-led government.  In the Polish general election of 1990, Wałęsa successfully ran for the newly re-established office of President of Poland. He presided over Poland's transition from communism to a post-communist state, but his popularity waned and his role in Polish politics diminished after he narrowly lost the 1995 presidential election.  In 1983, Wałęsa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Moreover, he has received more than 30 state decorations and more than 50 awards from 30 countries, including Order of the Bath (UK), Order of Merit (Germany), Legion of Honour (France) and European Human Rights Prize (EU 1989). In 2011, he declined to accept the Lithuanian highest order, citing his displeasure at Lithuania's policy towards the Polish diaspora.  In the United States, Wałęsa was the first recipient of the Liberty Medal, in 1989. In the same year, he was also presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and became the first non-head-of-state to address a joint meeting of the United States Congress.  Quote from Walesa:  "My most ardent desire is that my country will recapture its historic opportunity for a peaceful evolution and that Poland will prove to the world that even the  most complex situations can be resolved by a dialogue and not by force."


The German–Polish Border Treaty was signed on November 14, 1990,  finally settling the Polish–German border, an issue which was pending since the end of World War II in 1945.  The treaty was signed by the foreign ministers of Poland and Germany, Krzysztof Skubiszewski and Hans-Dietrich Genscher, in Warsaw, ratified by the Polish Sejm on November 25, 1991 and the German Bundestag on December 16, 1991.  Among the terms of the Treaty, Poland and Germany declared that the frontier between them was inviolable now,  and hereafter, and mutually pledged to respect their sovereignty and territorial integrity, and a mutual declaration that they have no territorial claims against each other and shall not raise such claims in the future.  In the ratification process at the Bundestag,  there were 13 dissenting votes by deputies of the CDU/CSU faction, among them Erika Steinbach and Peter Ramsauer.

November 13, 2018




"The Heart of Darkness", was published on November 13, 1902. It was a novella written by Joseph Conrad, a Polish-British writer of great renown. The central theme of this work dealt with the premise that there is little difference between "so-called" civilised people,  and those described as savages.  Heart of Darkness posed questions concerning the essence of imperialism and racism.  The setting takes place aboard a boat anchored on the River Thames, in which  the narrator,  Charles Marlow tells his friends about a voyage up the Congo River into the Congo Free State in the heart of Africa. This provided the frame in which Marlow expressed his obsession with Kurtz, an ivory trader and demigod among the African natives.  In The Heart of Darkness, a parallel was created between what Conrad referred to as "the greatest town on earth" (ie London) and the continent of Africa as places of darkness.  The book did not receive any success during Conrad's lifetime.  Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, a French philosopher,  called Heart of Darkness "one of the greatest texts of Western literature" and used Conrad's tale for a reflection on "The Horror of the West".  Adam Hochschild wrote that literary scholars have made too much of the psychological aspects of Heart of Darkness, while paying scant attention to Conrad's accurate recounting of the horror arising from the methods and effects of colonialism in the Congo Free State.  Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian novelist, denounced the book during a 1975 public lecture  as "an offensive and deplorable book" that de-humanised Africans.  (Orson Welles adapted and starred in Heart of Darkness in a CBS Radio broadcast as part of his series, on November 6, 1938.)


The Union of Armed Struggle, also known as the ZWZ, the Association of Armed Struggle, was formed on November 13, 1939 following the invasion of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union in September 1939.  Previously the ZWZ was known as the Service for Poland's Victory.  The ZWZ was an underground army that was in operation until February 14, 1942, when it was renamed into Armia Karjowa, Home Army.  Officially, the ZWZ was under the command of General Kazimierz Sosnkowski. (After Poland's defeat in the September Campaign, Polish leaders and military evacuated via Hungary, to France.)  However, Sosnkowski’s control of the ZWZ was very limited. The army was intended to be a national military underground force, without allegiance to any political differences or social ranks.  In January 1940, the ZWZ was divided into two sectors:  in areas under German occupation, the ZWZ was commanded by Colonel Stefan Rowecki, in Warsaw, and in areas under Soviet occupation, by General Michał Tokarzewski-Karaszewicz, in Lwów

HMS Blanche (H47) was sunk by a mine on November 13, 1939.  At the outbreak of WW2, the British destroyer was assigned to the 19th Destroyer Flotilla  and during the next two months escorted convoys, and patrolled the Channel and North Sea. The HMS Blanche and her sister ship the Basilisk were escorting the minelayer Adventure on the morning of November 13 in the Thames Estuary and had entered a minefield laid the night before by several German destroyers.  Both the Adventure and the Blanche struck mines, the latter lost all power and capsized at 09:50. Casualties were one man killed, and twelve wounded.  The Blanche was the first British destroyer sunk by the Germans during the war.

November 12, 2018




Nazis ordered Jews to pay exorbitant fines:  In the aftermath of widespread destruction of Jewish property, referred to as Kristallnacht, the Nazi German regime ordered the sum of one billion Reichmarks (approximately $ 400,000,000)  be paid by the Jews for this damage. Furthermore, the Jews were prohibited from filing any insurance claims for damages to their property.  The Nazi Germans arrested 30,000 Jews and deported them to concentration camps where many perished. Any Jewish business that had managed to survive the violence was not permitted to re-open for business under Jewish management, but instead were obliged to have a ‘true’ German take complete charge of operations.


France said that the Belgian and Dutch offer of mediation required Germany to repair "the injustices which force has imposed on Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland" before peace could be discussed. George VI wrote a reply explaining that the "essential conditions upon which we are determined that an honorable peace must be secured have already been plainly stated", but if the Queen of the Netherlands was "able to communicate to me any proposals from Germany of such a character as to afford real prospect" of achieving Britain's aims he would "give them my most earnest consideration."


British Air Force bombers attacked German destroyer Tirpitz:  On November 12, 1944,  during Operation Catechism,  32 Lancasters from British squadrons No. 9 and no. 617 Lancaster bombers loaded with 12,000-pound (5,400 kg) "Tallboy" bombs scored two direct hits, and a near miss which caused the ship to capsize. The blasts also ignited a deck fire which spread to the ammunition magazine for one of the main battery turrets causing a powerful explosion.  It tore off the turret roof and part of the rotating structure which were flung 25 m (82 ft) into the air and dropped over into a group of men  swimming to shore, crushing them. Casualties ranged from 950 to 1,204.  There were 200 survivors.  The Tirpitz, named after the German Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, was the second of two Bismarck-class battleships built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II.  Like her sister ship Bismarck, Tirpitz was armed with a main battery of eight 38-centimetre (15 in) guns in four twin turrets.  Following a series of modifications, the Tirpitz outclassed and outweighed the Bismarck, reaching 2,000 tonnes. The Tirpitz was the heaviest battleship ever built by a European navy.

November 11, 2018




Polish victory in the Second Battle of Khotyn.  Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth forces under the command of Jan Sobieski defeated the Ottoman army.  Polish-Lithuanian forces and Wallachian regiments were 30 thousand strong. The Turks had 35 thousand troops under their command, armed with 120 guns. In this battle rockets of Kazimierz Siemienowicz were deployed successfully.  The victory allowed the Poles to revoke the unfavourable Peace of Buchach treaty,  and set the stage for the role Sobieski was to play in the Battle of Vienna in 1683.


Poland re-emerged as a nation-state after 123 years in oblivion. When World War I ended, and the Austro–Hungarian Empire fell apart, the Polish people began to disarm the occupiers and created the institutions of a sovereign and independent Polish state.  Freed from his German captivity, Józef Piłsudski assumed civil and military authority as Chief of State. Upon Pilsudski's arrival in Warsaw on November 11, 1918 a new era in Polish history began. Pilsudski, a descendant of the culture and traditions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, believed in a multi-ethnic Poland,  "a home of nations" including indigenous ethnic and religious minorities which he hoped would establish a strong union with the independent states of Lithuania and Ukraine.  Pilsudski is highly esteemed in the collective memory of the Polish nation, and is considered to be the founder of an independent Poland.


The Nazis burned down the Ezras Israel Synagogue in Łódź. The Nazis tormented the Jewish clergy, and ordered Rabbi Segal to tear up the Torah scrolls with his own hands.  The destruction ensued from November 10-11, 1939, and was documented in the epic poem written by Itzchak Katzenelson's  "Song of the Murdered Jewish People". The Great synagogue was designed by Polish architect Gustaw Landau-Gutenteger and was built in 1899-1904 from private donations by Jewish merchants in the region.  It's location was on ul. Wólczańska 6 Street.

November 10, 2018




German Nazi Governor for district of Warsaw Ludwig Fischer imposed the death penalty for Jews trying to leave the ghettos, as well as for Polish Christians who attempted to help the Jews "in any way: by taking them in for the night, giving them a lift in a vehicle of any kind" or providing them with food.  The Nazis distributed posters in all cities and towns in an effort to instill fear.  Among all the German-occupied countries, the imposition of the death penalty applied only to the Polish people who were trying to aid the Jews.  Many Poles risked their lives, and the lives of their own families to rescue Jews from the Nazi Germans.  When grouped by nationality, the Polish people represented the largest number among those who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.  So far, the State of Israel has awarded the title, "Righteous Among Nations, to 6,706 Polish Christians. (More than to any other nation).


Germans occupied Vichy France. On November 10, 1942, Germany invaded Vichy France in violation of the 1940 armistice with France.  It triggered the scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon. The Vichy regime, also referred to as the French State, was the nominal government of all of France except for Alsace-Lorraine from 1940 to 1942.  Since Paris remained the de jure capital of France, the government decided to relocate to the town of Vichy, 360 km (220 mi) in zone libre of southern France, which became the de facto capital of the French State.

Henri Giraud arrived in Algiers on November  10, 1942, and agreed to subordinate himself to Admiral Darlan as the French Africa army commander. Even though Darlan was now in the Allied camp, he maintained the repressive Vichy system in North Africa, including concentration camps in southern Algeria and racist laws. Detainees were also forced to work on the Transsaharien railroad. Jewish goods were "aryanized" , in other word, stolen, and a special Jewish Affairs service was created, directed by Pierre Gazagne.  Many Jewish children were prohibited from attending school, which not even Vichy had implemented in metropolitan France.  (Henri Honore Giraud was a French general who was captured in both world wars, but managed to escape each time. After his second escape in 1942,  some of the Vichy ministers plotted to send him back to Germany and most probable execution. But U.S. President Eisenhower secretly asked Giraud to assume command of the French troops in North Africa and join the Allies in Operation Torch.  He was able to take over Darlan's post only after François Darlan's assassination, and thus, took part in the Casablanca Conference together with De Gaulle, Churchill and Roosevelt.  Darlan was a French admiral who took part in signing the armistice with Nazi Germany in 1940 and also served in the pro-Nazi Vichy regime.)


50,000 men rounded up by the Nazis.  The razzia, or roundup was preceded by Aktion Rosenstock on November 9th, in which the Germans spread propaganda leaflets with the heading, "BEFEHL" (translated: Warning) door to door, in the south of Rotterdam, north of the River Meuse. A day later the large scale assault was launched - about 50,000 men ranging in age from 17 to 40 years old were arrested, most of whom where immediately transported by train or ship to work as forced laborers in Eastern Netherlands or Germany.  The men were detained in large, unequipped barracks, suffering from the cold, unsanitary living conditions, and starvation. From 24,000 to 29,000 men perished during the war due to exposure, malnourishment, and bombardment.  Of the total of 100,000 men arrested, thousands never returned home again.   The Nazi Germans orchestrated this roundup mainly to remove the potential danger that these men represented - that they might join underground resistance groups to help the Allied war effort.

November 9, 2018




Beer Hall Putsch, also known as the Munich Putsch was a failed coup attempt by Adolf Hitler, Erich Ludendorff and other Kampfbund leaders. From November 8 to 9, 1923, about two thousand Nazis marched to the centre of Munich, where they confronted the police. The riot resulted in the death of sixteen Nazis and four police officers. After two days, Hitler was arrested and charged with treason. It was followed by a 24 day trial which was widely publicized, and inadvertently gave Hitler a platform to publicize his nationalist sentiment to the nation. He was sentenced to five years in Lansberg Prison.  While in prison he dictated Mein Kampf  to two of his fellow prisoners, Emil Maurice and Rudolf Hess. On December 20 1924, Hitler was released, having served only nine months.  Hitler now saw that the path to power was through the manipulation of legitimate means rather than revolution or force, and he changed his tactics accordingly, further developing Nazi propaganda.


Kristallnacht - The Night of Broken Glass, broke out throughout Nazi Germany against its Jewish citizens. For two days, the Nazi German SA paramilitary forces as well as German citizens, launched a pogrom against the Jews. Nobody intervened.  Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, buildings were demolished with sledgehammers.  The rioters destroyed 267 synagogues throughout Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland, and over 7,000 Jewish businesses were either destroyed or damaged. Martin Gilbert, a British historian wrote that no event in the history of German Jews between 1933 and 1945 was so widely reported as it was happening.  The events as reported by foreign journalists, sent shock waves around the world.  The British "Times" newspaper wrote, "No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenseless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday."  Kristallnacht changed the nature of the Nazi persecution of Jews from economic, political, and social to that of physical beatings, incarceration, and ultimately mass murder. Kristallnacht has often been referred to as the beginning of the Holocaust. In the words of historian Max Rein in 1988, "Kristallnacht came...and everything was changed.   (The word, Kristallnacht, comes from the shards of broken glass that covered the streets after Nazis smashed the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues.)


Witold Pilecki and his Commander Major Włodarkiewicz, co-founded the Secret Polish Army TAP), one of the first Polish underground organizations in Poland. Pilecki became organizational commander of TAP which expanded throughout Warsaw,  Siedlce, Radom, Lublin, and other major cities of central Poland. TAP had approximately  8,000 men (more than half of them armed), some 20 machine guns and several anti-tank rifles.  Later, TAP was incorporated into the Union for Armed Struggle (Związek Walki Zbrojnej), and later renamed as the Home Army (Armia Krajowa, or AK) Witold Pilecki was a Polish cavalry officer, intelligence agent and resistance leader. He served as a Rotmistrz (captain) with the Polish Army in the Polish-Soviet War, Second Polish Republic, and World War II.   During World War II, he volunteered for an underground resistance operation in which he allowed himself to be captured and imprisoned in the Auschwitz death camp. His mission was to gather intelligence on the Nazi German operations, and to later escape. While in the camp, Pilecki organized a resistance movement and in 1941 informed the Allies of the atrocities that were occurring in Auschwitz. His report, which eventually became published, was the first comprehensive intel report on the camp and the Holocaust.  (Editors note:  I strongly urge you to read Pilecki's book, "The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery" It can be purchased from Amazon online, or you may find it in university libraries.)


The Fall of the Berlin Wall:   The infamous wall began to fall on the evening of November 9, 1989, continuing on for several weeks.  East Germans, nicknamed Mauerspechte (translation: Wall Woodpeckers) used whatever tools they could find to chip off bits of the wall to keep as souvenirs, and in the process, massive sections of the wall were eventually demolished, and inadvertently opened numerous unofficial border crossings. Enormous crowds rallied on both sides of the wall, and waited for hours to cheer the bulldozers that tore down portions of the Wall and reconnect the divided roads.  Before the Wall was constructed, approximately 3.5 million East Germans ignored Soviet emigration restrictions, and attempted to defect to West Germany and other European countries.  From 1961 to 1989 the Wall prevented almost all such emigration, but despite the dangers, 100,000 East Germans attempted to escape and over 5,000 people succeeded in escaping over the Wall. The death toll was estimated to have ranged from 136 to 200 in and around Berlin. The East German government gave "shooting orders" to border guards in controlling the actions of defectors.  In an order dated October 1973, discovered much later by researchers, the guards were indeed  instructed to shoot to kill, and that the defectors were considered criminals that needed to be shot. An excerpt of the order read as follows:  "Do not hesitate to use your firearm, not even when the border is breached in the company of women and children, which is a tactic the traitors have often used"   If an escapee was wounded in the attempt to make a crossing, and  lay on the death strip, no Westerners could dare intervene to help the person, no matter how close they were to the Western wall; the fear was so great that any rescue attempt would trigger a barrage of fire power from the  "Grepos" (border guards).  The Grepos would allow "fugitives" to bleed to death in the middle of this hell.  So many people attempted to escape yet failed, and many died trying.  Peter Fechter, a young man of 18 years of age died on August 17, 1962. He was shot as he attempted the crossing and bled to death in full view of the Western media.