December 18, 2018

DECEMBER 18 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

DECEMBER 18

1941

Hitler Ordered Extermination of Jews:  On December 18, 1941, Himmler asked Hitler, "What to do with the Jews of Russia?". Hitler replied "als Partisanen auszurotten" ("exterminate them as partisans").  According to Yehuda Bauer, an Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer, Hitler's remark is as close as historians will ever get to a clear, definitive order from Hitler for the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.  (Note:  From June to December 1941, Hitler embarked on an ill-conceived and unprepared invasion of the Soviet Union.  Code-named "Operation Barbarossa",  Hitler planned to conquer western Soviet Union, seize the oil reserves of the Caucasus, repopulate Soviet territories with German settlers, and use Slavs, in particular Poles, as slave labour for the Reich.)


1944

Nazi Germans destroyed Polish palace:  On December 18, 1944, the Nazi Germans deliberately and completely destroyed Bruhel Palace (also known as Sandomierski Palace)  shortly after the Warsaw Uprising.  The Palace use to be situated at Piłsudski Square. It was one of the largest palaces in Poland, and one of the most exquisite examples of rococo architecture in pre-World War II Warsaw.  The palace was built between 1639-42 by Lorenzo de Sent for Crown Grand Chancellor Jerzy Ossoliński in Mannerist style, and adorned with sculptures - an allegory of Poland above the main portal, four figures of kings of Poland in the niches and a statue of Minerva crowning the roof.  ( Warsaw’s municipal government has decided to rebuild the Brühl Palace according to its historic shape, but adapting the interiors to either office space, a hotel, or as suggested by the National Bank of Poland, its base of banking operations in Warsaw.)


1952

Polish Pilot Breaks Sound Barrier: Janusz Żurakowski was a Polish test pilot for Canada's AVRO.  On December 18, 1952, he broke the sound barrier diving the CF-100 fighter jet - the first straight-winged jet aircraft to ever achieve this feat.  During World War II, he saw combat during the invasion of Poland by Germany in September 1939, "Black September".  Żurakowski had his combat debut on September 2, 1939 flying an outdated PZL P.7 trainer against a squadron of seven German Dornier 17s over Deblin.  He was able to damage one of the Do17s but was forced to break off combat when his guns jammed. (During the interwar years, the PZL was state-of-the-art construction, and one of the first all-metal monoplane fighters in the world) He flew with several RAF squadrons during the Battle of Britain, shooting down enemy Nazi planes and often escorted USAAR bombers during daylight bombing raids. He was awarded the Virtuti Militari, the highest Polish honor, in 1943. He also received the Polish Cross of Valor and Bar (1941) and Second Bar (1943).


1998

The Institute of National Remembrance– Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation IIPN) was founded on this day. It is a Polish government-affiliated research institute with lustration prerogatives, as well as prosecution powers. It was created by legislation enacted by the Parliament of Poland. The Institute specialises in the legal and historical examination of the 20th century history of Poland in particular. IPN investigates both Nazi and Communist crimes committed in Poland between 1939 and the Revolutions of 1989, then documents its findings and disseminates the results of its investigations to the public. Since its inception, the IPN has collected over 90 kilometres (56 mi) of archives, released 1,794 publications, organized 453 exhibits, held 817 conferences, and launched 30 educational internet portals. In the same period, the Institute researchers held interviews with over 103,000 witnesses and interrogated 508 individuals charged with criminal offences, leading to 137 sentences by the courts of justice.


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