Thursday, September 18, 2014

These Days In History: On Semptember 17, 1939 the Soviet Red Army crossed the border with Poland.

By mid-September, the German army had invaded most of the Polish territories. Although Polish armed forces, encircled by the superior forces of Wehrmacht, continued combat operations all over Poland. A number of Polish counter-offences rendered a temporary success. The defenders of Warsaw fought until September 22, 1939.

The Red Army entered Poland under the pretext of the protection of the non-Polish national minorities in Eastern Poland. In reality it was a planned operation, provisioned by the Secret Protocol signed on August 23, 1939 and attached to the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact. A precondition to the Soviet invasion of Poland had to be the fall of Warsaw. German government communicated to Stalin that Warsaw had fallen, although it was not true.
Poles did not expect that the Red Army would join the German suit. The Soviet marched in the Eastern Polish territories. The result was disorganization of Polish defense, which made the further resistance inconceivable. Soviet and German troops met in amicable way on the earlier provisioned demarcation lines, at the Rivers San and Buh. A number of German units had gone father, over the earlier agreed demarcation lines and approached Lviv and Brest.

In geopolitical sense, the German and Soviet invasion of Poland meant the Forth Partition of the country. Both Hitler and Stalin had settled their old scores with the independent Poland. The Soviet zone of occupation included Eastern Galicia, Western Volhynia and Polesije regions.

These ethnic Ukrainian territories also contained the large Jewish population, approximately 800,000 people. A small number of Jews returned back to the German-occupied Poland, namely to the General Government. However, the majority remained in the Soviet-controlled territories, which by the end of 1940 were officially incorporated in the USSR.
The Jews were presented with the choice of becoming Soviet citizens. This initiative of the Soviet Government became known as the Article 11. The majority of Jews agreed to the Soviet citizenship, however there were those who refused it. In 1940 – 1941, the Soviet Government commenced mass deportation of the so-called “undesirable” from the newly gained territories. Hundreds of thousands of Jews, Ukrainians and Poles were deported to the Soviet interior and placed in forced labor camps. Intelligentsia, political elites, business entrepreneurs and those who refused Soviet citizenship were to be deported first.

It has to be said that manifold more Jews survived in the Soviet interior than in German-occupied Poland. Many of them later joined the Anders Army or the First Polish Division named after Kosciuszko. This division would become a core of the pro-Soviet forces that eventually took control over the liberated Poland in 1944 – 1945.
Eastern Poland would never become the Polish territory again. The new borders had been reluctantly approved by the Allies at the Yalta Conference in February 1945. The political map of Europe had been changed forever. This border changes induced bloodshed in Volhynia where in 1943, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army massacred hundreds of thousands of Poles, perceiving that this province would remain in Polish hands.

The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalist continued to resist against the all might of the Soviet military since 1944 and until 1956. Western Ukraine, the former Eastern Galicia, that once was a home to Poles, Ukrainians and Jews, preserved its role as a Ukrainian Piedmont until Ukraine gained independence in 1991. It is still regarded to be a Ukrainian Piedmont. Only after the Soviet Perstroika, the Secret Protocol between Nazi Germany and the USSR was made public.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

These Days In History: September 15, 1935

On 9/15/35 two measures were announced to the Reichstag at the Annual Party Rally in Nuremberg, becoming known as the Nuremberg Laws.

The first law, The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour, prohibited marriages and extramarital intercourse between "Jews" and "Germans" and also the employment of "German" females under forty-five in Jewish households.

The second law, The Reich Citizenship Law, declared those not of German blood to be Staatsangeh├Ârige (state subjects) while those classified as "Aryans" were Reichsb├╝rger (citizens of the Reich). In effect, this law stripped Jews of German citizenship.

Between November 1935 to July 1943, 13 implementation ordinances were issued dealing with the enforcement of Reich Citizenship Law that progressively marginalized the Jewish community in Germany.

Pictured: A table used to explain the meaning of the Nuremberg Laws

Monday, September 15, 2014

These Days In History: September 13, 1944: Auschwitz Bombing

On September 13, 1944 the IG Farbenindustrie chemical plant was bombed for thirteen minutes. Few bombs fell on the area surrounding Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau camps. Over 40 prisoners and 15 SS men died because of the air raid and many were wounded. 

In Birkenau, bombs damaged the railroad embankment and the connecting track to the crematoria. At the chemical plant bombs caused significant  damages and approximately 300 people were killed., including many prisoners who worked there.

During the air raid, aerial photographs were taken, where Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau camps are visible, including gas chambers and crematoria. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

These Days In History: Benito Mussolini

On September 12, the German paratroopers freed from the Italian partisan base the Duce, Benito Mussolini. The War in Italy would continue until April 1945.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

These Days In History: September 9, 1941: Anti-Jewish Legislation is Introduced in Slovakia

When Slovak troops entered the War in the summer of 1941, anti-Jewish legislation was escalated again. 

On September 9, 1941, the legal status of the Jews was finalized with the Zidovsky Kodex (the Jewish Code), which was one of the first government regulations passed by the Slovak Republic containing a set of anti-Jewish laws. 

The Zidovsky Kodex closely followed the Nuremberg Laws for the classification of Jews; it contained 270 articles, which redefined the Jews as a racial group. It required them to wear the yellow Star of David, made them liable to forced labor and evicted them from the selected towns and districts.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

These Days In History: September 8, 1939: Germans Occupy Tarnow

On September 8th, 1939 German forces occupied a town in southern Poland, approximately 70 km east of Krakow named Tarnow.

Before the War, around 25,000 Jews lived in Tarnow (around 50% of the total population of people there). When the Germans bombed the city for the first time on Sept. 3rd, many of its Jews fled further east, while a large influx of refugees from elsewhere in Poland moved into the town. 

The Germans formally occupied Tarnow on Sept. 8th and they immediately started confiscating Jewish property and capturing men in the streets for the purposes of forced labor. 

On November 9th, 1939 Tarnow's synagogues and prayer houses were set on fire and later demolished. In the same month, a Judenrat was established. Its members made great efforts to assist the Jewish population.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

These Days In History: September 8, 1939: Germans Occupy Radom

On Sept. 8, 1939, German forces occupied a city in central Poland 62 miles south of Warsaw named Radom. In 1939, 30,000 Jews lived in Radom, making up 1/3 of the city's total population. 

The Generalgouvernement (Government of WWII German-occupid Poland) was created that October, and Radom became the capital of one of its districts. 

In December, the Germans formed a Judenrat and a Jewish police force. Soon, many Jews were deported to forced labor camps. 

The Radom Ghetto was set up in March 1941, for the purpose of persecution and explotation of the local Jews. 

Liquidation of the Ghetto began in August 1942 and ended in July 1944 with approximately 32,000 victims sent to their deaths at the Treblinka extermination camp.