January 18, 2018




Ignacy Jan Paderewski was the Prime Minister of Poland as well as Foreign Minister from January 18 to November 27, 1919 and represented Poland at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. He played an important role in meeting with President Woodrow Wilson and obtained the explicit inclusion of establishing an independent Poland as point 13 in Wilson's peace terms in 1918 (the Fourteen Points). Paderewski was also a renown Polish pianist and composer and fervent spokesman for Polish independence. He was a favorite of concert audiences around the world.


Palmiry Massacre: 255 Jews in Warsaw were arrested at random by the Nazi Germans. Over the next week they would be taken to the Palmiry Forest outside the city and shot dead. (Note: Between December 1939 and July 1941 more than 1700 Poles and Jews – mostly the inmates of Pawiak prison – were executed by the SS and the Ordnungspolizei in the forest glade near Palmiry. The best documented of these massacres took place on 20–21 of June 1940, wherein 358 members of the Polish political, cultural and social elite were murdered in a single operation.)


Warsaw Ghetto Uprising:  The Nazi Germans began their second deportation of the Jews, which set off a violent armed uprising by the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto.  Jewish fighters of the ŻZW, joined by elements of the ŻOB, put up an armed resistance, engaging the Germans in direct exchanges of gunfire. Though the ŻZW and ŻOB suffered heavy losses (including some of their leaders), the Germans also took casualties, and within a few days the Germans halted the deportation. Only 5,000 Jews were removed, instead of the 8,000 planned by SS Globocnik. Hundreds of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto were ready to fight, adults and children, though sparsely armed with handguns, homemade molotov cocktails, and a few weapons that were smuggled into the Ghetto by the Polish underground. Many of the Jewish insurgents knew that their actions was a futile effort to save themselves, but that they fought the battle for the honour of the Jewish people, and a protest against the silence and apathy of its allies. The ZZW and ZOB were Jewish resistance organizations. The former had close ties to Armia Krajowa.


The Germans ordered the evacuation of the remaining 60,000 inmates of Auschwitz concentration camp ahead of the advancing Soviets. Some were deported by rail while others were forced to march in freezing temperatures.

The Soviet-controlled Polish Committee of National Liberation moved from Lublin to Warsaw.

Soviet troops captured Krakow, Poland

January 17, 2018




Stanisław II Augustus (dob) was the last King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania and the last monarch of the united Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1764–95). He remains a controversial figure in Polish history. Recognized as a great patron of the arts and sciences and an initiator and firm supporter of progressive reforms, he is also remembered as the last king of the Commonwealth whose election was marred by Russian involvement. He is criticized primarily for his failure to stand against the partitions, and thus to prevent the destruction of Poland.


The People's Party (SL) voted in favour of a general peasant strike. The SL decided that if the Polish government did not meet their demands a general peasant strike would be introduced. Participants in the Congress signed an appeal which demanded democratization of the country, amnesty for politicians sentenced in the Brest trials, and changes in the Constitution. The strike was prepared by Stanisław Mikołajczyk, and by Wincenty Witos, who dispatched his advice and instructions from Czechoslovakia. (Note: In 1926 Witos' government was overthrown by a coup d'etat by Marshal Pulsudski. Witos was arrested and imprisoned, and then lived in exile in Czechoslovakia until 1939.)


The Battle of Monte Cassino began in Italy: Also known as the Battle for Rome, it was a disastrous series of four assaults by the Allies against the Winter Line in Italy held by Axis forces during the Italian Campaign. The intention was to break through to Rome. From January 17 to May 18, multi-national Allied forces launched four offenses in the attempt to break through the impenetrable Nazi defences. The Germans held positions at the Rapido-Gari, Liri and Garigliano valleys and some of the surrounding peaks and ridges, forming the Gustav Line and the Monte Cassino Line. In the last phase of the battle, Allied troops consisting of twenty divisions (including Polish troops of the 2nd Polish Corp) attacked along a twenty mile front. Though the Germans were finally driven from their positions, the Allied victory came with devastating casualties of over 55,000 men, while Germans troops suffered about 20,000 killed and wounded.


Warsaw was so-called "liberated" by the Soviets: Over 200,000 Poles had died during the Warsaw Uprising and 800,000 had been deported to the General Government, the Reich or to the Nazi German concentration camps. According to Polish statistics, approximately 174,000 people remained hiding in the rubble.

Russian army liberated Budapest: From occupation to liberation the Jewish population of Budapest was reduced from 200,000 to 70,000 in the ghetto, and about 20,000 housed in specially marked houses outside the ghetto having been granted diplomatic protection by neutral politicians, including Raoul Wallenberg, who issued Protective Passports on behalf of the Swedish Legation, and Carl Lutz, who did the same via the Swiss Government. Of those that were deported (most of them to a concentration camp on the Austrian border), the vast majority were liberated by the advancing Red Army.


Pope John Paul II prayed for end to martial law in Poland: In his second trip to Poland, Pope John Paul met with the communist leaders and bluntly told them to end martial law and restore Solidarity. In a 15 minute speech broadcast live throughout Poland, the Pope urged Jaruzelski to resume good relations with the West, and above all with the US where so many Poles live. The Pope added that such a renewal " is indispensable for maintaining the good name of Poland to the world, as well as finding a way out of the internal crisis and sparing the sufferings of so many sons and daughters of the nation, my compatriots." On the second day of the Pontif's visit, he visited Krakow where he prayed at the Wawel Cathedral, where the heart of King Jan Sobieski is enshrined.


Mother Superior Matylda Getter was recognized on this day as Righteous Among Nations, by Yad Vashem. Getter was a Catholic nun in the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary in Warsaw and social worker in pre-war Poland. When the Nazis occupied Poland during WW2, she cooperated with the famous Irena Sendler and the Żegota resistance organization in saving the lives of hundreds of Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto (between 250 and 550 children). She risked her life and the lives of her Sisters by sheltering the children in her orphanages. She hired adults to work with them, cared for the children, and hid them in the Order's various educational institutions.

January 16, 2018




The League of Nations held its first council meeting in Paris on January 16,  1920, six days after the Versailles Treaty and the Covenant of the League of Nations came into effect.  The headquarters of the League was moved from London to Geneva on November 1, 1920, where the first General Assembly was held two weeks later. The Palais Wilson, named after US President Wilson's efforts to establish the League, was located on Geneva's western lake shore. The League of Nations was created as a result of the Paris Peace Conference which ended World War I. It was the first international organization professing the principal mission was to maintain world peace.  Among its goals, as stipulated in its Covenant, was the prevention of wars through collective security and disarmament and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration.


Hitler Took Refuge in Bunker:  Hitler moved into the Führerbunker joined by his senior staff, including Martin Bormann. (In April 1945, Eva Braun and Joseph Goebbels moved into the Führerbunker while Magda Goebbels and their six children took residence in the upper Vorbunker. Two or three dozen support, medical, and administrative staff were also sheltered there. These included Hitler's secretaries (including Traudl Junge), a nurse named Erna Flegel, and telephone switchboard operator Sergeant Rochus Misch. The Fuhrerbunker was an air-raid shelter located near the Reich Chancellery in Berlin and part of a wider network of subterranean bunker complex constructed in two phases, completed in 1936 and 1944. It was the last of the Führer Headquarters used by Adolf Hitler during World War II.


Miriam Akavia (nee Matylda Weinfeld) died on this day. She was the President of the organization called Platform for Jewish-Polish Dialogue. She organized meetings between teenagers of Poland and Israel. She struggled to dispel the stereotypes which had long separated Poles and Jews, and which had obscured understanding of each other. She was born in 1927 in Krakow. She was a Holocaust survivor, and after the war became a writer and translator. She received many honours from Poland, Israel, and Germany.