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.)

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