December 24, 2018

DECEMBER 24 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

DECEMBER 24

1798

Beloved Polish Poet:  Adam Mickiewicz (dob) was a Polish poet, dramatist, essayist, publicist, translator, professor of Slavic literature, and political activist.  He is regarded as National Poet in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus.  Mickiewicz was a prominent figure in Polish Romanticism, and is regarded as one of Poland's "Three Bards" ("Trzej Wieszcze"). He is widely regarded as Poland's greatest poet and has been compared to Byron and Goethe.  Scholars refer to the "cult of Mickiewicz" as indicative of the great importance he held well beyond his literary masterpieces - he was upheld as a "national prophet".  According to Czeslaw Milosz, the greatest achievement by Mickiewicz was "Dziady" (translated: Forefathers Eve).  It was written over an extended period of time,  and parts II and IV were published in 1823.  Accompanying part III was a long descriptive poem, "Ustęp" (Digression) which expressed Mickiewicz's experiences in, and views about Russia, and portayed the nation as a huge prison. Mickiewicz pitied the oppressed Russian people, and wondered about their future.  Miłosz aptly described the epic poem as a "summation of Polish attitudes towards Russia in the nineteenth century". The poem evoked strong responses from the likes of the great literary icons such as Joseph Conrad (Under Western Eyes)  and Pushkin ("The Bronze Horseman").  In 1901, the poem was adapted for a theatrical performance staged by Stanisław Wyspiański. Milosz described it as "a kind of national sacred play, occasionally forbidden by censorship because of its emotional impact upon the audience."  In fact, in 1968, the communist-controlled Polish government closed down the production of the play, which spurred the 1968 Polish political crisis!  Adam Mickiewicz died on November 26, 1855


1941

Himmler Ordered Confiscation of Jewish Property:  The following is an excerpt translated to English; "Reichsfuhrer Himmler has ordered the collection of all fur coats, furs and hides of any kind whatsoever that have been found amongst and confiscated from Jews; together with those of still existing Jews, which are about to be confiscated immediately, particularly in the ghettos in the General-governement [occupied Poland]. The number is to be regularly reported to me by teleprinter from December 29th 1941, not later than 1800 hours. The Reichsfuhrer has commanded that his order be carried out without delay… The Jewish Councils are to be warned that they themselves, along with any Jews caught in possession of a fur or hide after the stipulated period has expired, will be shot."  (Report of the Nazi German Chief of Security Police)


1946

Polish General Murdered in Soviet Prison:  On December 24, 1946, while imprisoned in Butyrka prison, General Leopold Okulicki was murdered by the notorious Soviet NKVD.   He had been arrested on trumped up charges of distributing propaganda against the Soviet Union, state terrorism, among a slew of other accusations.  He was among several other prisoners subjected to a mock Soviet trial ("Trial of the Sixteen") and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.   Okulicki was a General of the Polish Army and the last commander of the anti-German underground Home Army (Armia Krajowa) during World War II.  During the trials,  Okulicki had remarked that  “In comparison with the NKVD, the Gestapo methods are child's play".  (Note: Poland never collaborated with Nazi Germany.  Poland was not a quisling state. The Polish armed forces supported the Allies and fought against the Nazi Germans throughout the entire war)


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