Polish Uprising: On this day in 1918, the Uprising began after a stirring patriotic speech by Ignacy Paderewski. (He was a famous pianist who would become in the following year the Polish Prime Minister.) The Polish people hoped for a free and sovereign Poland. They saw their opportunity to make serious plans for an uprising when Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated on November 9, 1918. (This marked the end of the German monarchy and empire, and would be replaced by the Weimar Republic.) By evening, Polish insurgents began shooting in front of Poznań's Police Headquarters and succeeded in capturing the main train station, main post office and part of city fortifications. Simultaneously, Polish uits fought in other towns and captured Szamotuły, Środa Wielkopolska, Pniewy, Opalenica, Buk, Trzemeszno, Września and Gniezno. The Uprising had a significant effect on the Treaty of Versailles, which granted a reconstituted Second Polish Republic. Previously the nation had been partitioned and was occupied under the yoke of foreign tyranny by Russia, Prussia, and Austria, for 126 years.
Soviets Disbanded the special Polish forces: When the Soviet Red Army occupied Poland after the end of the Warsaw Uprising, they discontinued the Ciechociemni (the Polish underground command fighting forces). The Ciechociemni was an independent division of the British British SOE (Special Operations Executive). The Poles selected their own men (and women) to conduct covert operations throughout Nazi-occupied Europe. More than 300 Polish special forces and 28 emissaries successfully parachuted into Poland to fight in the Warsaw Uprising. They also conducted missions in Albania, Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia. They parachuted into France to organize an underground resistance movement among the half million Polish minority. Among the famous members of the unit was Krystyna Skarbek, a beautiful young Polish spy working with the SOE. She was highly celebrated for her daring exploits in intelligence and dangerous missions in Nazi-occupied Poland and France. The identities of the many other Polish agents are still unknown. The oldest was 54 years old, the youngest was 20. Of 316 Ciechociemni, 103 perished during the war: in combat with the Germans, executed by the Gestapo, or in crashes. Nine were executed after the war by the Soviet controlled Polish People's Republic. The Ciechociemni took part in a total of 91 operatives in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.
Pope John Paul II forgave his would-be assassin. On this day, Pope John Paul II visited Mehmet Ali Agca at Rebibbia jail, a high-security prison in Rome. He entered Agca's cell and the two spoke quietly for about twenty minutes. Their conversation was so hushed and inaudible as to seem as though it were a confessional. When the Pope left the cell, Agca went down on one knee and kissed the Pope's hand (Following Agca's capture in the 1981 assassination attempt, he declared that he shot the Pope because he was a symbol of Christianity.)