December 13, 2018

DECEMBER 13 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

DECEMBER 13

1849

Edmund Louis Gray Zalinski (dob) was a Polish-born American soldier, military engineer and inventor. He is famous for the development of the pneumatic dynamite torpedo-gun.  Zalinski was born in K√≥rnik, Prussian and emigrated with his parents to the United States in 1853. He attended school in Seneca Falls, New York and high school in Syracuse until 1863. He dropped out at the age of 15 and lying about his age, enlisted in the United States Army. He served during the American Civil War as aide-de-camp on the staff of General Nelson A. Miles from October 1864. In February 1865, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Second New York Heavy Artillery Regiment, and was recommended for promotion for gallant and meritorious conduct at the Battle of Hatcher's Run, Virginia. He continued on General Miles's staff until the surrender of General Robert E. Lee in April 1865.


1938

Neuengamme Concentration Camp:  On December 13, 1938, the Nazi SS established the Neuengamme concentration camp, as a subcamp to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, and transported 100 prisoners from Sachsenhausen as forced laborers to begin constructing the new camp and operate the brickworks.  Heinrich Himmler inspected the site in January 1940 and assessed Neuengamme brick production below standard. By spring of the same year, the SS and the city of Hamburg signed a contract for the construction of a larger, more modern brick factory, an expanded a connecting waterway, and a direct supply of bricks and prisoners for construction work in the city. Within months,the Neuengamme concentration camp became an independent camp,  and transports began to arrive from all over Germany and soonafter the rest of Europe. Between 1940 and 1942, the death rate had risen greatly, and was dealt with by the construction of  a crematorium onsite.  After the war in Stalingrad, the Nazis imprisoned Soviet prisoners of war in the camp. By the end of 1944, the total number of prisoners grew to about 49,000 ( 12,000 in Neuengamme and 37,000 in the subcamps)  including roughly 10,000 women in the various subcamps for women.  The  SS practice had a policy of “extermination through labour”. Prisoners were forced to work for 10-12 hours per day and were killed as a result of brutal beatings at the hands of the guards, or due to inhumane condition, malnourishment, and disease.


1981

Martial Law in Poland:   On December 13, 1981, Polish General Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed martial law in Poland in an attempt to crush the rise of the Solidarity movement. Jaruzelski claimed that martial law had to be instigated in order to save Poland from the potential military intervention by the Soviet Union, East Germany and other Warsaw Pact countries (as had occurred in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968). Thousands of opposition activists were arrested and imprisoned, 91 were killed. Civil liberties were drastically reduced. Consumer prices skyrocketed leading to an economic crisis. It reduced real wages by 20% or more and forced the Polish people to ration even the most basic of foodstuffs. Over 700,000 Poles left Poland for the West between 1981 and 1989. Though martial law was lifted on July 22, 1983,  many of the political prisoners were not released until a general amnesty in 1986.

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