December 5, 2018

DECEMBER 5 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

DECEMBER 5

1867

Jozef Pilsudski (dob) was a Polish statesman. He was Chief of State (1918–22), "First Marshal of Poland" (from 1920), de facto leader (1926–35) of the Second Polish Republic,  and Minister of Military Affairs. He was responsible for the resurgence of Poland after it was reborn in 1918 (after 123 years of oblivion where the nation was occupied by Russia, Austria and Prussia). During the Polish–Soviet War (1919-1921) Pilsudski's forces were on the verge of defeat, until in August 1920 during the Battle of Warsaw, the Polish forces succeeded in throwing back the invading Russians. In 1923, with the government dominated by his opponents, in particular the National Democrats, Piłsudski retired from active politics.  But three years later he returned to power in the May 1926 coup d'état and became the most powerful leader in Poland. From then on until his death in 1935, he concerned himself primarily with military and foreign affairs. Pilsudski believed in a multicultural Poland and recognized the value of numerous ethnic and religious nationalities, and their co-existence in a strong alliance with independent states of Lithuania and Ukraine. Though Pilsudski was born in Zulow, Lithuania, he referred to himself as "Polish-Lithuanian".


1911

Władysław Szpilman was a famous pianist and classical composer of Polish-Jewish descent. Szpilman was widely known as the central figure in the 2002 Roman Polanski film, "The Pianist", which was based on Szpilman's autobiographical account of how he survived the Nazi German occupation of Warsaw and of Hitler's Final Solution, the Holocaust. Szpilman owed his survival to thirty courageous Polish people who risked their lives in order to shelter him.  On October 31, 1940, Władysław Szpilman and his family, along with all the other Jews living in Warsaw, were forced to move into a "Jewish quarter",  the Warsaw Ghetto.  As soon as the Jews were confined, the Nazi Germans constructed a massive wall around the Ghetto to separate them from the rest of the city.  Szpilman managed to find work as a musician to support his family, all of whom were deported in 1942 to the Treblinka extermination camp where they perished. Szpilman remained in the Ghetto as a labourer, and helped smuggle in weapons in preparation for the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.  He stayed until Feb 13, 1943, shortly before the Nazis liquidated the Ghetto and deported the remaining Jews. From his early Berlin years, Szpilman never lost the will to write music, even when he was living in the Warsaw Ghetto. His compositions include orchestral works, concertos, piano pieces, as well as a vast amount of music for radio plays and films, in addition to about 500 songs. More than 100 of these became beloved hits in Poland, as well as about 40 songs for children, for which he received an award from the Polish Composers Union in 1955.  Szpilman's memoir was widely praised by the British press which described it as "a compelling, harrowing masterpiece" and  "one of the most powerful accounts ever written" of Jewish persecution under the Nazi Germans. In a powerful and poignant description, Szpilman wrote about Janusz Korczak, a famous author and teacher,  who chose to walk alongside the children of his orphanage as they were deported, and join them - ultimately escorting them "into the next world",  as Szpilman related. Wladyslaw Szpilman died in Warsaw on July 6,  2000 at the age of 88.


1943

Operation Crossbow was the code name for the British-American military operations to destroy all phases of the German long-range weapons programmes, which included its development, manufacture, and transport. Also targeted were launching sites, and attempts to intercept V-2 missiles in mid-flight.  In May 1943 Allied reconnaissance surveilled the first of 11 large sites under construction in Northern France,  for secret German weapons, as well as six sites for the V-2 rocket. Months later, the Allies discovered the first of 96 "ski sites" for the V-1 flying bomb. Military command deliberated on the extent of Nazi German weapons supremacy - some officials believed that they were merely decoys, while others suspected they were chemical or biological warheads. By August of 1943,  evidence was overwhelming in favor of launching a series of attacks against the V-2 complex, the first being the Operation Hydra attack on Peenemunde.  On December 5, 1943, another series of attacks were launched, code named "Crossbow Operations Against Ski Sites" - the "Noball" code name used for the targets (e.g., 'Noball 27' was the Ailly-le-Vieux-Clocher site;  "Noball No. 93" was in the Cherbourg area, "Noball No. 107" was at Grand Parc, and "Noball V1 site No.147" was at Ligescourt.


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