May 20, 2018


MAY 20


Wladyslaw Sikorski (dob) was a Polish military and political leader. In WW2 he was appointed  Commander in Chief and General Inspector of the Polish Armed Forces. He also held the position of the Polish Minister of Military Affairs, thus cementing full control over the Polish military during the war. In addition he was the 1st Prime Minister of the Polish-Government-In-Exile, from September 39, 1939.   Even with its territory occupied by Germany and the Soviet Union,  Poland still commanded substantial armed forces: the Polish Navy had sailed to Britain, and hundreds of thousands of Polish troops had escaped via Romania and Hungary or across the Baltic Sea. These routes would be used frequently until the end of the war by both interned soldiers, Polish underground, and volunteers from Poland, who called themselves "Sikorski's tourists". They embarked on treacherous journeys, risking capture and imprisonment in concentration camps, or execution,  if caught by the Germans or their allies. The new Polish Army was getting a steady flow of recruits in France, and when France fell to Hitler, many of them escaped to Britain.  Even in Poland there was a large resistance movement. Sikorski had founded the  Zwiazek Walki Zbrojnej (Union of Armed Struggle), which later became Armia Krajowa (Home Army). Sikorski also created the Government Delegation of Poland, to supervise the Secret Polish Underground State in occupied Poland. Poland had the largest resistance movement of any occupied country in Europe, and were the fourth largest Ally of the war.   On July 4, 1943, General Sikorski was killed in a tragic plane crash. Suspicions still prevail to this day of the possibility of Russian conspiracy.


Romanian prime minister, Patriarch Miron Cristea, arrived in Poland. (Note: Cristea visited Poland, with which Romania had an alliance and with which it tried to create a neutral block between Nazi Germany and the USSR.  Cristea was an Austro-Hungarian-born Romanian cleric and politician.   Cristea, a bishop in Hungary was elected Metropolitan-Primate of the Orthodox Church of the newly unified Greater Romania in 1919. As the Church was raised to a rank of Patriarchate, Miron Cristea was enthroned as the first Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church in 1925. In 1938 he served as  Prime Minister until his death in March 1939.  In his tenure as Patriarch, Cristea supported tolerance towards the Jews.  In 1928 he appealed to Romanian students to live the Golden Rule and he expressed sorrow for attacks and profanations of synagogues.

May 19, 2018


MAY 19


Russian army invaded Poland.  On May 18,  1792 Russian ambassador to Poland, Yakov Bulgakov, delivered a declaration of war to the Polish Foreign Minister Joachim Chreptowicz. The next day Russian armies entered Poland and Lithuania starting the Polish-Russian War.   Russia felt threatened by the formation of a new alliance between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Prussia, and the creation of a new Polish Constitution of May 3, 1791 which instituted liberal reforms. Russia regarded Poland as a de facto protectorate. Alexander Bezborodko, chief author of foreign policy remarked that "The worst possible news have arrived from Warsaw: the Polish king has become almost sovereign"   The Kingdom of Prussia was equally opposed to to the new Polish constitution.  Poland was subjected to yet another partition in 1793 and by 1795 the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ceased to exist.


Franco-Polish Alliance: The Kasprzycki-Gamelin Convention was signed in Paris. (named after Polish Minister of War Affairs General Tadeusz Kasprzycki and Commander of the French Army Maurice Gamelin). It was a military, and not a state convention and therefore was not in force legally, as it was dependent on signing and ratification of political convention. It obliged both armies to provide help to each other in case of a war with Germany.


New Nazi battleship Bismarck left Gdynia, Poland:  Bismarck and her sister ship Tirpitz were the largest battleships ever built by Germany, and two of the largest built by any European power. Bismarck conducted only one offensive operation, in May 1941, code named Rheinübung. Accompanied by the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, they raided Allied shipping lanes from North America to Great Britain. The two ships were detected several times off Scandinavia, and British naval units were deployed to block their route. The operation eventually ended with the sinking of the HMS Hood, and Bismarck.


Solidarity deputies proposed a no-confidence motion against the government of Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka.  Of the 460 seats in the Polish Sejm (lower House of Parliament) 223 voted against the Suchocka government while 198 supported her, and 24 abstained. (only 445 members were present to vote). The motion of no-confidence passed and President Wałęsa dissolved Parliament.  Suchocka government was criticized for its hard line policy against strikers, though welcoming market reforms. When teachers went on strike demanding an increase in salary Suchocka refused to bargain. Solidarity threatened to call a nationwide general strike if Suchocka's Cabinet didn't fall. If she had been reappointed, there would be no change as she would again have disregarded union demands.

May 18, 2018


MAY 18


Troops of General Anders' 2nd Polish Corps attached to the British Eight Army captured Monastery Hill, Monte Cassino, on May 18, 1944.  A soldier of the Polish unit raised the Polish flag over the ruins of the abbey at 10:20 am. It ended five months of brutal and bloody fighting for control of the strategic height.  (Note:  Polish II Corps launched their second attack on Monte Cassino on May 17, with no natural cover for protection and under constant artillery and mortar fire from the strongly fortified German positions. Fighting was fierce, and resorted to hand to hand combat.  As the Allies advanced in the Liri valley, Germans had to withdraw due to dwindling material, but chose new defensive positions on the Hitler Line.  In the early hours of May 18, the British 78th Division and Polish II Corps linked up in the Liri valley 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Cassino town. At the end of the war the Poles constructed  a Polish Cemetery at Monte Cassino on the slope of the mountain.

Stalin proclaimed GKO Order No. 5859, which implemented the deportation of the Tatars. It began on this day, and continued until the May 20th, 1944.  The notorious Soviet NKVD agents went from house to house arresting Crimean Tatars at gunpoint and forcing them into sealed cattle trains that would transfer them almost 3,200 kilometres (2,000 mi) away to remote locations in the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. The Soviets gave the Tatars permission to carry only up to 500 kg of their property per family.  By 8:00 on the first day, the NKVD had already loaded 90,000 Crimean Tatars distributed in 25 trains. The next day, an additional 136,412 people were crammed into railroad cars, without food or water.  The trip took several weeks, and by the end over 7,800 people had perished.  At least  228,000 people were deported from Crimea, many of them families. Officially, there was not a single Crimean Tatar left in Crimea. During the deportation process, the NKVD confiscated 80,000 houses, 500,000 cattle, 360,000 acres of land, and 40,000 tons of agricultural provisions that were left behind by the Crimean Tatars.


The world's tallest structure was built by Jan Polak, a Polish architect.  The  Konstantynow Radio Tower, built in Warsaw, weighed 420 tonnes and measured 646 metre high (half a mile). It was the second tallest structure ever built, being surpassed only by Dubai's Burj Khalifa.  But on August 8, 1991 the structure was carelessly destroyed by a group of workmen employed by Mostostal Zabrze, a construction company charged with the tower’s upkeep.  The construction co-ordinator and the division chief, were both charged as responsible for the collapse of the tower, and sentenced to two and a half, and two years in jail, respectively. By 1992, plans were underway to rebuild the tower, but the townspeople protested due to radiation emission from the tower.