April 19, 2018




The inhabitants of Wilno celebrated the 19th anniversary of city's liberation from the Soviets. Dar Pomorza returned to the port of Gdynia, after a 216 -day cruise.  The Dar Pomorza was a Polish full-rigged sailing ship, constructed in 1909 by Blohm & Voss to be a German training ship and named in tribute to the German Prinzess Eitel Friedrich. Following WW1, Friedrich was taken as reparations by Britain and brought to France. Eventually it was sold to the Pomerania community of Poland for 7,000 British pounds, and renamed Dar Pomorza.  Dar Pomorza won the Cutty Sark Trophy in 1980.  She is now preserved at Gdynia as a museum ship.


Warsaw Ghetto Uprising:  In response to the Nazi's attempt to liquidate the Warsaw Ghetto and deport the remaining Jews to Treblinka,  Jewish prisoners instigated an armed resistance from within the walls of the Ghetto.  The Jews refused to surrender. When the SS troops tried to liquidate the Ghetto, the Jews drove them back with gunfire.  Nazi police commander Jurgen Stroop then ordered the burning of the Ghetto, block by block.The aktion ended on May 16, 1943.  It was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II.  A total of 13,000 Jews died, about half of them burnt alive or suffocated.  The surviving 56,000 inhabitants were deported to Treblinka for extermination.  German casualties were not more than 300.

Dawid Moryc Apfelbaum was commander of the Jewish Military Union (Żydowski Związek Wojskowy, ŻZW), during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. He was reportedly killed in the first few days of the Uprising.  (He also fought for Poland, during the German invasion of Poland, joining the troops in defence of Warsaw.) After his death he was promoted to the rank of Major in the Polish Army by the the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa,) AK command. In 2004, the mayor of Warsaw Lech Kaczyński had a square named for Apfelbaum in the city's Wola district.

Mordechai Anielewicz was the leader of the Jewish Fighting Organization (ŻOB), which led the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising; the largest Jewish insurrection during the Second World War, which inspired further rebellions in ghettos and extermination camps. His character was engraved as a symbol of courage and sacrifice, and to this day his image represents Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. In July 1944, Anielewicz was posthumously awarded the Cross of Valour by the Polish Government in Exile, and in 1945 he was also awarded the Cross of Grunwald, 3rd Class by the Polish People's Army. Numerous other awards and memorials were made in his name by the State of Israel and many Jewish organizations.


The Battle of the Seelow Heights ended in Soviet-Polish victory. It was a pitched battle, and one of the last assaults on large entrenched defensive positions. The Battle was fought over three days ending on  the 19th of April 1945.  The road to Berlin lay open -  90 km (56 mi) to the west. By April 23, the city was completely surrounded, and the Battle of Berlin was soon at an end. Within 2 weeks, Adolf Hitler committed suicide and the war in Europe was essentially over.  Close to one million Soviet soldiers of the 1st Belorussian Front (including 78,556 soldiers of the Polish 1st Army), commanded by Marshal Georgi Zhukov, attacked the position known as the "Gates of Berlin".  They were opposed by about 110,000 soldiers of the German 9th Army, commanded by General Theodor Busse, as part of the Army Group Vistula. The defensive line on the Seelow Heights was the last major defensive line outside Berlin.

German submarines were sunk:  U-251 was sunk by rockets from no less than eight British and Norwegian Mosquitos of 143, 235 and 248 squadrons in the Kattegat; U-548 was sunk by depth charges from the American destroyer escorts Reuben James and Buckley; (it is not certain whether U-879 or U-857 was sunk, as both were in the vicinity at the time of the Allied attack.)


The Flick Trial was the fifth of 12 trials of the United States Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (not to be confused with the Nuremberg Trials). It was also called the "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials". The trial was held from April 19 to December 22, 1947 and most well-known of all the trials which tried 22 of the most important captured Nazi Germans. Among the accused were Frederich Flick and five high-ranking directors of a group of companies under his control. The charges were implementing slave labor and plundering. In addition, Flick and Otto Steinbrinck, his senior director, were both charged for their membership in what was named the "Circle of Friends of Himmler". This group was established in 1932, and consisted of many powerful German industrialists and bankers who had given about 1 million Reichsmarks to a special account of Himmler.  Flick was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment, Steinbrinck to 5 years, Weiss to 2 and a half years, and three were acquitted. 

April 18, 2018




Bolesław Chrobry (Boleslaw I The Brave) was crowned in Gniezno, becoming the first King of Poland.  Bolesław I was a remarkable politician, strategist, and statesman. He not only turned Poland into a country comparable to older western monarchies, but he raised it to the front rank of European states. Bolesław conducted successful military campaigns in the west, south and east. He consolidated Polish lands and conquered territories outside the borders of what is modern-day Poland. It included Slovakia, Moravia, Red Ruthenia, Meissen, Lusatia, and Bohemia. He was a powerful mediator in Central European affairs.


Bona Sforza was crowned as Queen consort of Poland.  In 1518  she became the second wife of Sigismund I the Old, the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. Their marriage lasted 30 years until Sigismund's death in 1548.  Sforza was ambitious and dynamic, becoming deeply involved in the politics of Poland–Lithuania. In an effort to increase state revenue, she implemented various economic and agricultural reforms, including the far-reaching Wallach Reform in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.  Her reforms made her the richest landowner in the Grand Duchy. In foreign policy, she opposed the Habsburgs and sought to secure her eldest daughter Isabella Jagiellon in the Kingdom of Hungary.


Free Royal Cities Act:  Full title in Polish: Miasta Nasze Królewskie wolne w państwach Rzeczypospolitej;  Full title in English: "Our Free Royal Cities in the States of the Commonwealth", or the Law on the Cities, Prawo o miastach) was an act adopted by the Four-Year Sejm (1788–92) of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the run-up to the adoption of the Constitution of May 3, 1791. The Act was subsequently incorporated in extenso into the Constitution by reference in its Article III.  The Act granted the townspeople of the Commonwealth personal security, the right to acquire landed property, and eligibility for military officers' commissions, public offices. However, it did not give them the rights of szlachta (Polish nobility), but gave the right for ennoblement. Most importantly, the Act provided townspeople the right for representation in Sejm as advisers in the cities' affairs.


During the commemoration of the anniversary of the Battle of Racławice, the police killed 3 participants, wounding several others. The Battle of Racławice was one of the first battles of the Polish Kościuszko Uprising against Russia.  It was began on April 4, 1794 near the village of Racławice in Lesser Poland.


ORP Sęp, built in the Netherlands, arrived in Gdynia ahead of schedule. Earlier in 1939, the Polish engineers noticed a significant slowdown in the construction at the hands of the German workers. The Poles feared that German pressure on The Netherlands might prevent the delivery of the vessel into Polish hands.  To avoid this, the Poles "hi-hijacked" their own sub before it was fully completed.  While in Poland, the Polish team continued to fit the ship with parts coming in from the Netherlands, but the ORP Sep could not be finished before WW2 broke out.


The first Croatian anti-semitic racial law was published on this day. It did not create panic among the Jewish population, because they believed it was merely a continuation of the antisemitic laws of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which had been proclaimed in 1939. However, the situation quickly become ominous on April 30, 1941. Just one day before, on April 17, 1941, Ante Pavelić , a Croatian fascist general and military dictator,  proclaimed a law that remained in effect during the entire period of the Independent State of Croatia. It declared that all people who offended, or tried to offend, the Croatian nation were guilty of the crime of treason—punishable by death.


SS guards began loading 5,000 concentration camp prisoners aboard the immobilized ocean liner Cap Arcona. (more on May 3, 1945)


Polish Catholic church and government signed accord over relations. ( The "Agreement between Government of the Republic of Poland and Episcopate of Poland" dated 14 April 1950, Krakow.) This was the first agreement between the Vatican and a Communist state and was never published in the official gazette. This pragmatic, albeit secret arrangement was intended to grant concessions on both sides. In return for supporting the Polish Communists (and avoiding circumstances that would precipitate the arrival Russian tanks) the government permitted the Church to exercise more influence than their counterparts in other Communist countries.

Jerzy and Irena Krępeć were living in Gołąbki near Warsaw during Nazi German occupation of Poland, and provided shelter and assistance to Polish Jews and their families fleeing from the Warsaw Ghetto.  The entire Krepec family helped everybody in need with shelter, food, clothing and moral support. People in the village knew about the numerous Jewish families living at both farms, but nobody betrayed them and all refugees survived.  On this day,  the medal was bestowed to Mrs.Krepec' with the title of Righteous Among Nations by Yad Vashem. The ceremony was held at the Israeli Consulate in Montreal, on December 12, 1995 in the presence of Polish Consul General Małgorzata Dzieduszycki, and the French and English press.

April 17, 2018




Pope Pius XI canonized Andrzej Bobola on this day. Bobola was a Polish missionary and martyr in the 17th century and belonged to the Society of Jesus. He was known as the Apostle of Lithuania and the "Hunter of Souls".   He was captured by the Cossacks during the Khmelnytsky Uprising, and after being tortured, was killed on May 16, 1657.  When his remains were found in Pinsk, in 1701, physicians inspected the body and were astonished to see that the remains were "completely incorrupt" with pliable and soft flesh.


General Johan Laidoner arrived in Warsaw. He was Commander-in-Chief of the Estonian Army,  during the Estonian War of Independence. He was among the most influential people in Estonian history between the world wars. After the war Laidoner served as a member of the Riigikogu from 1920 to 1929. He was appointed commander-in-chief during the 1924 Communist coup attempt, and then again from 1934 to 1940, during the authoritarian regime of Konstantin Päts. In June 1940, the Soviet Union occupied Estonia and the other Baltic states.  A year later John Laidoner and his wife Maria were  deported  Penza,  Russia, where they lived in forced exile until the beginning of the war with Germany in June 1941. They were then detained in prisons in Kirov, Ivanovo and Moscow  at "honorary prisoners”, along with Konstantin Päts and several Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish statesmen.  In 1952, the notorious Soviet Ministry of State Security sentenced  Laidoner  to 25 years in prison at Vladimir Prison, where he died on March 13, 1953.  The location of his remains have never been found, but believed to be buried at the prison cemetery.  A memorial plaque was placed there in the 1990s.  His wife Maria, nee Kruszewska (1888–1978), was born of Polish nobility.  She was released from prison a year later, and returned to Estonia. She died in 1978 Viljandi and was buried at Tallinn Inner City Cemetery, next to her son.


Solidarity was legalized and its membership quickly reached 1.5 million. The Solidarity Citizens' Committee (Komitet Obywatelski "Solidarność") was given permission to field candidates in the upcoming elections, and put forward candidates but for only 35% of the seats in the Sejm. There were no restrictions in regard to Senat candidates. Despite these groundbreaking laws, agitation and propaganda still continued unabated right up to election day, but without official reprisals. Despite its shortage of resources, Solidarity managed to carry on an electoral campaign.