POLISH GREATNESS TRAFFIC

November 19, 2018

NOVEMBER 19 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 19

1885

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.


1942

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

NOVEMBER 18 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 18

1738

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.


1939

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.)


1941

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.


1943

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

NOVEMBER 17 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 17

1914

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.


1938

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. 


1942

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

NOVEMBER 16 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 16

1941

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)


1943

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.


1944

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

NOVEMBER 15 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 15

1920

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.


1939

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.


1940

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.


1943

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

NOVEMBER 14 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 14

1918

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.


1982

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."


1990

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

NOVEMBER 13 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 13

1902

"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.)


1939

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

NOVEMBER 12 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 12

1938

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.


1939

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."


1944

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

NOVEMBER 11 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 11

1673

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.


1918

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.


1939

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

NOVEMBER 10 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 10

1941

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).


1942

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.)


1944

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

NOVEMBER 9 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 9

1923

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.


1938

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.)


1939

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.)


1989

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.


November 8, 2018

NOVEMBER 8 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 8

1937

The Eternal Jew (Der ewige Jude)was an exhibition held at the Library of German Museum in Munich, from November 8, 1937 to January 31, 1938. The display of photographs and caricatures focused on antisemitic stereotypes, for example representing Jewish attempts at bolshevising Nazi Germany, the illustration of an eastern Jew wearing a kaftan holding gold coins in one hand, and a whip in the other.  This type of degenerate art was created by a number of famous Nazi German avante garde artists such as Max Beckmann and Ernst Kirchner, among others. The exhibition attracted 412,300 visitors, over 5,000 per day. In the same year a book was published by the Nazi German party, of the same name, The Eternal Jew (Der ewige Jude) which contained 265 photographs each with a short caption denigrating Jewish people.


1939

Assassination Attempt on Hitler:  Eight minutes after Hitler concluded a speech at the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich on the 16th anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch, a time bomb exploded near the speaking platform that killed eight people and injured sixty two others.  A carpenter, Johann Georg Elser was arrested with incriminating documents at the Swiss border and brought back to Munich for interrogation. His attempt to assassinate Hitler would have succeeded if Hitler's annual speech had not begun 30 minutes earlier than it did in previous years.  Elser was arrested and imprisoned for five years where he sustained torture, and  was injected with high dosages of Pervitin.  Hans Gisevius, a German diplomat (and covert opponent of the Nazi regime) wrote that Elser, "was just a shell of his former self because they (the Gestapo) had tried to squeeze information out of him by feeding him very salty herring and exposing him to heat, and then depriving him of liquids ... They wanted him to confess to some kind of connection, however vague, to Otto Strasser."  (Strasser broke from the Nazi Party due to disputes with the "Hitlerite" faction.  He founded the Black Front whose objective it was to split the Nazi Power and seize power from Hitler.)  On April 9, 1945, four weeks before the end of the war in Europe, Georg Elser was executed by gunfire, and his fully dressed body immediately burned in the crematorium of Dachau Concentration Camp. He was 42 years old.


1944

On November 8, 1944 upon the orders of Adolf Eichmann, tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews were forced on a death march from the Ujlaki brickyards in Obuda to the camps in Austria.  More than 70,000 Jews—men, women, and children walked over 100 miles in the rain and snow, suffering exhaustion, starvation, and exposure.  Thousands died as a result of the arduous passage, and thousands more were shot. The prisoners who survived the death march reached Austria in late December 1944.  The Nazi Germans transported the survivors to several concentration camps, in particular Dachau in southern Germany,  and to Mauthausen in northern Austria, and to Vienna, where they worked as slave labor in the construction of fortifications around the city.


November 7, 2018

NOVEMBER 7 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 7

1917

On November 7, 1917, the Bolsheviks leading the Red Guards took over the government buildings in Petrograd, capital of the Russian Empire.  The next day they captured the Winter Palace, the seat of the Provisional government.  The Bolsheviks were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split from the Menshevik faction in 1903 at the Second Party Congress in 1903. The Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, very quickly rose in power during the October Revolution. The Bolsheviks originally formed in 1898 in Minsk (Belarus) as a revolutionary socialist political party, with the scope of uniting numerous revolutionaries into one party. Ultimately, the Bolsheviks (meaning "majority") became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.


1918

Provisional People's Government of the Polish Republic was  established in Lublin, Austrian Galicia, on November 7, 1918 following the end of World War One. The government of the newly emerged Polish nation, was also referred to as the Government of of Ignacy Daszyński.   It proclaimed the creation of a new constitutional republic based on the primacy of democratic principles, the right to parliamentary elections, nationalization of key industries, as well as social, labour, and land reforms. Among the prominent leaders of the provisional government were Stanisław Thugutt, Minister of Internal Affairs; Tomasz Arciszewski, Minister of Labour;  as well as Col. Edward Rydz-Śmigły as the Minister of War and Supreme Commander of the Polish Armed Forces.  Ignacy Daszyński became Prime Minister.  But on November 14, 1918, the Parliament dissolved itself when Józef Piłsudski became Head of State.  Following consultation with Piłsudski, Daszyński's government dissolved itself and a new government formed under Jędrzej Moraczewski. Italy became the first country in Europe to recognise Poland's renewed sovereignty.


1941

The Soviet ship Armenia was sunk on November 7, 1941. At 11:30 am, approximately 25 miles from Yalta, the Armenia was attacked by a Heinkel He 111 medium bomber of Staffel. The enemy dropped two torpedoes: one missed but the other scored a direct hit. The ship broke in two and sank within four minutes. The ship was evacuating civilians and wounded soldiers from Crimea.  Approximately 5,000 to 7,000 people perished during the attack and sinking. There were only 8 survivors.  It has been cited as the third deadliest maritime disaster in history, after the sinking of German vessels, the Wilhelm Gustloff and the Goya.  The Armenia was originally built as a passenger ship for operations on the Black Sea, and it WWII carried military cargo, and wounded soldiers.



November 6, 2018

NOVEMBER 6 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 6

1657

Brandenburg & Poland signed the Treaty of Bromberg.   It was agreed upon between John II Casimir of Polandof and Elector Frederick William of Brandenburg-Prussian and was ratified at Bromberg on November 6,  1657.  The treaty was a composite of several other treaties;  In exchange for military aid in the Second Northern War and the return of Ermland to Poland, the Polish King, Casimir granted the Hohenzollern dynasty of Brandenburg hereditary sovereignty in the Duchy of Prussia, pawned Draheim (Drahim) and Elbing (Elbląg) to Brandenburg, and handed over Lauenburg and Bütow Land to the Hohenzollerns as a hereditary fief.  Historians regard this treaty as one of the biggest mistakes in Polish foreign policy towards Prussia.  The consequences to Poland and Polish sovereignty were politically fatal. The First Partition of Poland took place on September 22, 1772.  The Second Partition was January 23, 1793. The Third Partition was October 24, 1795, and the Fourth Partition was September 1, 1939.


1939

Sonderaktion Krakau was the codename for a Nazi German operation against Polish professors and academics of the Jagiellonian University and other universities in German occupied Kraków. The Gestapo Chief Bruno Muller ordered the arrest of all 184 men and brought to a detention center on Montelupich street, and then to barracks at Mazowiecka.  From there they were shuttled to various detention centers, and in the end to Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps. As a result of an international uproar, on February 8, 1940 the Gestapo released  101 professors (over the age of 40),  and a few others intermittently. Their living conditions were grim and inhumane.  Of those who were detained, 12 professors died in the camp, and 5 others upon release.


1941

Stalin Celebrated the 24th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. He gave a speech on November 6, 1941 to Moscow party workers underground in the Mayakovsky metro station.  Here is a translated excerpt of this speech: "…..The period of the war of liberation from the German invaders has begun.....Already the very moral degradation of the German invaders, who have lost all human semblance, and long ago sunk to the level of wild beasts, this one circumstance is already evidence of the fact that they have doomed themselves to inevitable destruction....But the inevitable destruction of the Hitlerite invaders and their armies is not determined by moral factors alone...... Great Britain, the United States of America and the Soviet Union have united into a single camp, which has set itself the aim of smashing the Hitlerite imperialists and their predatory armies. The present war is a war of engines. The war will be won by the side that has an overwhelming preponderance in engine production. If we aggregate the production of engines in the U.S.A., Great Britain and the U.S.S.R., then we get a superiority of at least three times in comparison with Germany. That is one of the grounds for the inevitable doom of Hitler’s robber imperialism....For the complete rout of the German invaders! (Loud applause.) For the liberation of all the oppressed peoples groaning under the yoke of Hitler’s tyranny! (Loud applause.)......"


November 5, 2018

NOVEMBER 5 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 5

1916

On November 5, 1916, a joint declaration by Emperors Wilhelm II of Germany, and Franz Jozef I of the Austro-Hungarian Empire,  established the Kingdom of Poland out of territory of Congress Poland.  The Act intended that the Polish territory would be merely a puppet state, controlled by the Central Powers.  Hence, Germany legitimized its continued occupation on Polish soil.  The strategy was followed by a massive propaganda campaign in which pamphlets were distributed to Polish citizens (in 1915).  In it, they claimed that German soldiers were going to arrive as "liberators" and free Poland from Soviet occupation. As a result of this Act, Polish efforts accelerated towards the goal for freedom and independence;  the Italian Parliament supported the plan for the independence of Poland; and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson made public his wish for an independent Poland.  In January 1918, President Wilson gave a speech on the Fourteen Points, a statement espousing the principles of peace that were to be applied to peace negotiations following the end of World War One.  It included the resolution of territorial issues, calling for the independence of Poland, and that of several other nations.


1939

The Nazis began Mass expulsions of Poles from Poznań.  About 70,000 Polish citizens from Poznan were expelled to the General Gouvernment, an administrative center established by the Nazi Germans in central Poland. It was, in effect, a giant penal colony.  The deportations were directed by SS Wilhelm Koppe and supervised by SS Ernst Damzog. Damzog was also in charge of the Chelmo extermination camp. The Nazi operation, code named Heim ins Reich (translation: Back to the Reich), was the manifestation of Hitler's plan of Lebensraum, that is the expansion of the German nation and Germanization of Europe.  By 1944 over 1.7 million Polish citizens were expelled and replaced with about half a million German Volkdeutsche settling the area.  The Heim ins Reich manifesto referred to areas that had been ceded as a result of the Treaty of Versailles after the end of WWI, especially that of the reborn nation-state of Poland, the Sudetenland, and Danzig.  In 1941, Hitler declared that Poland would become purely German within 15 to 20 years, that the Nazis would "clear" 15 million Polish nationals (Jews as well as ethnic Poles)  from the region and that by that  time, the areas would be occupied by 4 to 5 million ethnic Germans.


1995

Following the second round of the Presidential election in Poland,  Aleksander Kwaśniewski  won with 51.7 percent of the votes, while Solidarity leader, Lech Wałęsa won 48.3 percent.  Kwaśniewski's campaign slogans were "Let's choose the future" and "A Poland for all" . Political opponents disputed his victory, and presented concrete evidence to prove that Kwasniewski had lied about his education in registration documents and public presentations.  There was also considerable doubt as to whether he even graduated from university.   A court of law ruled that Kwaśniewski had indeed lied about his record, but strangely did not penalise him for it, instead judging that these facts were deemed irrelevant to the election result.  (In the first round of votes,  64.7% of citizens cast their votes and 98.2% of those were valid. In the second round, 68.2% of citizens cast their vote and 98.0% of those were valid.


November 4, 2018

NOVEMBER 4 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 4

1940

The British Royal Navy launched Operation MB8 to protect Allied supply convoys in the Mediterranean Sea from November 4 to 11, 1940.  The fleet consisted of six forces, totaling two aircraft carriers, five battleships, 10 cruisers and 30 destroyers, in addition to Force H.  (Force H was formed in 1940 to replace the French naval power in the Mediterranean, which had been removed as a result of the French armistice with Nazi Germany.)   The forces were code-named Operation Coat, Operation Crack, Convoy MW 3, Convoy ME 3, Convoy AN 6 and the main element, Battle of Taranto (Operation Judgement).


1942

U-132 was sunk by falling debris after the British ammunition ship Hatimura exploded when it was attacked by the U-132.   U-132 and U-442 had also sunk the Empire Lynx, operating southeast of Cape Farewell (Greenland).  All 47 crew members of U-132 died, There were no survivors.  U-132 served in four patrols and sank eight ships, totaling 32,964 gross register tons (GRT). ] She was also a member of three wolfpacks.


1943

After the execution of over 1,000 Jewish prisoners in the Szebnie Nazi German concentration camp in Poland, an uprising broke out among the survivors. It was quickly suppressed by the German SS guards. The camp was closed the next day and about 3,000 prisoners were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp. Seven were known to have escaped. (Note: In August of 1943, the Jews were separated from the rest of prisoners and detained in the north side of the camp. Upon the orders of SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Amon Goeth,  two thousand Jews were murdered in mass executions at the nearby Dobrucowa Forest.  Previously, on September 22,  about 700 Jews were killed in one, having been forced to undress. By the end of September, their bodies were incinerated on site. By early October, another group of 500 Jews were executed and burned. By February 1944 only 80 Jews remained in the camp. They were transported to Kraków-Płaszów. Most of the remaining non-Jewish prisoners were evacuated between August 14 to 25, 1944 and deported further west to Grybów camp, all except for some 300 of the weakest prisoners.)


November 3, 2018

NOVEMBER 3 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 3

1806

Greater Poland Uprising:  General Jan Henryk Dąbrowski and Józef Rufin Wybicki entered Poznan on November 3, 1806 leading the first units of the French army.  Upon their arrival, they were met with joyous fanfare and large patriotic celebration.  On the same day Dąbrowski rallied the Poles to stand with arms on Napoleon's side and fight against Prussian occupation. Dąbrowski and Wybicki created Voivodship Commissions, whose tasks were to take administrative control and maintain peace and order in the area.  The Greater Poland Uprising was a military insurrection by Poles against the occupying Prussian forces after the Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1772–1795).  It was one of the most successful Uprisings in Polish history.  General Dabrowski is commemorated as Poland's hero, and is venerated in the Polish National Anthem.  It was Wybicki who penned the lyrics to the anthem, Mazurek Dąbrowskiego.


1943

Aktion Erntefest (Operation Harvest Festival)  occurred on November 3 and 4, 1943 in which mass shooting rampages took place at Majdanek concentration camp and its sub-camps. It was carried out by the Nazi German SS and the Ukrainian Sonderdienst, to liquidate the remaining Polish Jews. Approximately 43,000 Jews were killed on the orders of Christian Wirth and Jakob Sporrenberg, eliminating virtually the entire Jewish working force.  Operation Harvest Festival was the single largest German massacre of Jews in the entire war. It surpassed the notorious massacre of more than 33,000 Jews at Babi Yar outside Kiev by 10,000 victims. It was exceeded only by the 1941 Odessa massacre of more than 50,000 Jews in October 1941, committed by Romanian troops.


On November 3, 1943, the USAAF Eighth Air Force, consisting of a total of 539 aircraft launched a devastating raid on the Wilhelmshaven harbor. Strategic Operations ordered 539 of 566 B-17's and B-24's to the Wilhemshaven port, which hit the target at 1307-1335 hours. They claimed 21-3-24 Luftwaffe aircraft; 7 B-17's were lost, 2 damaged beyond repair, and 47 damaged; casualties were 12 WIA and 70 MIA. The mission included 11 Pathfinders, 9 using new H2X blind-bombing device (first time on a US mission) and 2 using H2S. This was the first Eighth Air Force blind-bombing mission in which the aiming point was completely destroyed and was also the Eighth's first 500-plane mission. 333 P-47's and 45 P-38's escorted the bombers with the P-38's escorting the heavy bombers almost the entire trip and saw their first real ETO combat, claiming 3-5-5 Luftwaffe aircraft. 


November 2, 2018

NOVEMBER 2 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 2

1938

The First Vienna Award was signed on November 2, 1938, a treaty between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy that was a direct result of the Munich Agreement in the previous month.  The treaty established the partitioning of Czechoslovakia which separated the Magyar-populated territories in southern Slovakia and southern Carpathian Rus from Czechoslovakia, granting them to Hungary.  Thus Hungary regained some of the territories in present-day Slovakia and Ukraine which had been lost in the Treaty of Trianon in the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I.   In mid-March 1939, Adolf Hitler granted Hungary permission to occupy the remainder of Carpatho-Ukraine,which extended its territory further north up to the Polish border. This created a common Hungarian-Polish border, which had once existed, prior to the 18th-century Partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.  In September 1939 when German invaded Poland,  the Polish government and a large part of its military evacuated Poland, escaping to Hungary and Romania, and from there to France to continue fighting against the Nazis.  (nb: After World War II,  the First Vienna Award was declare null and void, at the 1947 Treaty of Paris.)


1940

Greek Hero and Legend of WW2:  Marinos Mitralexis was a Greek Air Force pilot, and hero.  During battle, when he ran out of ammunition, he used his plane to ram into the tail of an enemy bomber.  Upon landing his plane, Mitralexis captured the Italian crew that had parachuted  to safety. It was one of the most extraordinary aviation event in World War Two!  Mitralexis was praised by his countrymen as a war hero and was decorated with numerous medals, including the Gold Cross of Valour, Greece's highest award for bravery.  When Greece capitulated to Germany (April 1941) he and the rest of the surviving Greek Air Force personnel and aircraft escaped to North Africa and joined the Allied forces. (nb. Marinos Mitralexis flew the PZL P.24, a Polish all-metal fighter aircraft.  It was designed by Polish aeronautical engineer Zygmunt Pulawski and produced in the 1930s at the PZL factory in Warsaw.)


1942

General Montgomery broke through Rommel’s defensive line at El Alamein, Egypt, forcing the Nazis to retreat. It marked the beginning of the end of the Axis occupation of North Africa. The operation code-named Supercharge was launched with a seven-hour aerial bombardment directed on Tel el Aqqaqir and Sidi Abd el Rahman, followed by a four and a half hour barrage of 360 guns firing about 15,000 shells. The two assault brigades started their attack at 01:05 on November 2, 1942 and achieved their objectives on schedule, with moderate losses. On the right of the main attack 28th (Maori) battalion captured positions to protect the right flank of the newly formed salient and 133rd Lorried Infantry did the same on the left. New Zealand engineers cleared five lines through the mines allowing the Royal Dragoons armoured car regiment to slip out into the open and spend the day raiding the Axis communications.  Rommel reported to Hitler that: "........the army's strength was so exhausted after its ten days of battle that it was not now capable of offering any effective opposition to the enemy's next break-through attempt ... With our great shortage of vehicles an orderly withdrawal of the non-motorised forces appeared impossible ... In these circumstances we had to reckon, at the least, with the gradual destruction of the army....." Hitler replied -  ordering Rommel to stand ground and not surrender, and told him that "....you can show them no other road than that to victory or death....."


November 1, 2018

NOVEMBER 1 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 1

1938

Poland occupied some northern parts of Slovakia and received from Czechoslovakia Zaolzie, territories around Suchá Hora and Hladovka, around Javorina, and in addition the territory around Lesnica in the Pieniny Mountains, a small territory around Skalité and some other very small border regions which officially ceded November 1, 1938.  On September 30, Poland had given an ultimatum to the Czechoslovak government demanding the immediate evacuation of Czechoslovak troops and police. The next day the Czechoslovak foreign ministry called the Polish ambassador in Prague and told him that Poland could have what it wanted. The Polish Army, commanded by General Władysław Bortnowski, annexed an area of 801.5 km² with a population of 227,399 people.  (Though Poland was accused of being an accomplice of Germany, there was no collaboration or collusion.  It was a matter of geostrategy by the Poles in their attempt to forestall German occupation.)


1946

Karol Wojtyła (later Pope John Paul II) was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Sapieha in his private chapel in the Bishop's Palace in Krakow.  The following day Karol Wojtyla celebrated his first mass at St Leonard's Crypt in Wawel Cathedral.  On September 28, 1958,  he was ordained in the Cathedral as Kraków's auxiliary bishop.  Between 1958 and 1978, the Bishops Palace was a residence of Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, who in October 1978 became the first Slavic Pope in history, adopting the name John Paul II.  During the Nazi occupation of Poland Wojtyła had resided in the Palace, when he was a student of the clandestine Kraków Archdiocese Seminary run by Cardinal Adam Stefan Sapieha.  On August 6, 1944 the Nazi Germans rounded up thousands of Polish men and boys in Kraków, and amid the chaos, Wojtyła managed to escape capture.


1970

Marian Spychalski narrowly missed an assassin's bullet:   Spychalski was nearly assassinated at Karachi airport in Pakistan on November 1, 1970 during the welcoming ceremonies. The Gettysburg Times reported the story that an anti-communist Islamic fundamentalist Feroze Abdullah drove a truck at high speed into the Polish delegation, narrowly missing his intended target but killed the Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Zygfryd Wolniak, and three Pakistani representatives including the Deputy Director of the Intelligence Bureau, Chaudhri Mohammed Nazir, and two photographers.    Marian Spychalski was Chairman of the Council of State, and served as a Head of State. Previously he had served the military as Minister of Defence and Field Marshal.