On this day in 1945, the Auschwitz-Birkenau
concentration camp in Poland was liberated by the Soviet Red Army. One of the most notorious camps of Nazi Germany, Jews and others persecuted by the Nazi regime were sent to Auschwitz from 1940 onwards. During its years in operation, over one million people died in Auschwitz, either from murder in the gas chambers or due to starvation and disease. As the war drew to a close and the Nazis steadily lost ground to the Allied forces, they began evacuating the camps and destroying evidence of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed there. The
leader of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, ordered the evacuation of the
remaining prisoners at the camp as the Soviet Red Army closed in on the area.
Nearly 60,000 prisoners from Auschwitz were forced on a march toward
Wodzisław Śląski (Loslau) where they would be sent to other camps; some
20,000 ended up in the Bergen-Belsen camp in Germany. However, thousands
died during the evacuation on the grueling marches, leading to them
being called ‘death marches’. 7,500 weak and sick prisoners remained in
Auschwitz, and they were liberated by the 322nd Rifle Division of the
Soviet Red Army on January 27th 1945. Auschwitz remains one of the most
powerful symbols of the Holocaust and the horrific crimes committed by
the Nazi regime against Jews and numerous other groups.
It’s hard to be a conservative in Hollywood these days. Just ask actor and renowned grunter Tim Allen, who apparently feels like he’s living in Nazi Germany.
“You’ve gotta be real careful around here,” Allen said during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Thursday night, before comparing being a conservative in Hollywood to living in ‘30s Germany. Read more (3/17/17 1:19 PM)
Jesse Owens wins gold in Nazi Germany, 1936. He was the most successful athlete at the games and, as a black man, was credited with “single-handedly crushing Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy”, although he “wasn’t invited to the White House to shake hands with the President, either.”
U.S. Army Military Police Corps officers detain 14-year-old Willy Etschenberg and 10-year-old Hubert Heinrichs after the two youths were captured while shooting at U.S. troops following the Allied victory at the Battle of Aachen. October, 1944.
this day in 1933, the German Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which
essentially secured Adolf Hitler’s position as dictator of Germany. The law gave
Chancellor Hitler legal powers to establish his dictatorship as it gave
the Cabinet the power to enact laws independently of the legislature - the Reichstag. Its formal name was ‘Law to Remedy the Distress of
People and Reich’. Hitler had been appointed Chancellor on January 30th
and just before the scheduled election, the Reichstag fire occurred. The
Nazis used the incident to suggest a Communist revolution was imminent
and passed the Reichstag Fire Decree which suspended civil liberties and
habeas corpus. The Nazis failed to gain an absolute majority in the
Reichstag, so Hitler drafted the Enabling Act to secure his position.
The Nazis pressured and threatened representatives of the Reichstag to
pass the bill, positioning SA men and Nazi swastikas in and around the
building. With the bill’s passing, Hitler’s dictatorship was assured,
and thus began a brutal regime which would last until 1945.
authority of the Führer has now been wholly established. Votes are no
longer taken. The Führer decides. All this is going much faster than we
had dared to hope” - Joseph Goebbels after the passage of the Act
I feel a little apprehensive to post this but damn, I’m tired of Poland during WWII being mentioned only in the context of “Hitler invaded it first” (which is not technically accurate anyway).
during WWII, around 6 000 000 Polish people were killed, over 3 000 000 of it were Jewish. The vast majority were civilians. To give you the perspective on those numbers, 35 000 000 people lived in Poland before the war. That means that over 22% of all Polish people were killed in WWII.
The first actual report of the scope of Holocaust was conducted by the Polish Underground State. Jan Karski gathered a detailed account of the mass murders that were being committed and presented it to the Allies on the West as early as 1942, asking for help. USA and UK didnothing.
(by the way, while giving Jan Karski posthumously the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Barack Obama used the very loaded phrase “Polish concentration camps” - which were, you know Nazi Germany concentration camps where Polish citizens were killed. Not to rag on Obama personally but this goes to show what’s the general American attitude towards this)
Speaking of the Polish Underground State - did you know that it was the biggest resistance movement under the Nazi Germany? And it was an actual underground state, with underground cabinet, diplomatic channels, education, judiciary system, the press, etc. There was a branch called “Żegota” that provided help for Jewish people in gettos and accomodated their hiding on the “Aryan side”. (You should consider that in Poland only the punishment for helping Jewish people was death).
Don’t forget too that Hitler first offered Poland a deal and the Polish response was “We in Poland don’t know the notion of peace at any cost. There is only one thing in the lives of people, nations and states which is priceless: that thing is honor”.
(that probably wasn’t very smart but you have to admit it’s pretty badass)
Subsequently, both Nazi Germany and USSR invaded Poland while France and Britain (who formally “declared war” on Germany) did nothing.
Also don’t forget that Polish Underground State was forced to work with Stalin even though USSR invaded Poland and committed terrible war crimes. For our troubles, we got sold to the Soviets after WWII. By the way, NKWD (secret police) was actively arresting Polish freedom fighters and Jewish people even BEFORE the war was done (sometimes those “freed” from the concertration camps were transferred directly to the Soviet prisons). USA knew about this.
There’s more but I wrote this off the top of my head and I’m tired.
In March of 1938, the Gestapo raided Sigmund Freud’s office and interrogated his daughter, Anna. Austria had recently been annexed to Germany. The Freuds were prominent intellectuals and known to descend from Reform Jews (though Freud himself was atheist). It was time to leave. On June 4th, 1938, Sigmund, his wife, and his daughter all left Austria for London with almost no baggage. It was more important to be alive than to bring the family furniture. Two months later, with a lot of luck, most of their possessions were able to be shipped to the UK – including Freud’s famous couch. Sigmund set up practice in Hampstead, London, carefully re-creating his Vienna consulting room, including the couch. It now sits in the Hampstead house, which has been converted into a museum.
this day in 1943, three members of the peaceful resistance movement in
Nazi Germany, the White Rose, were executed. The White Rose, comprising students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor, began in June 1942. The group secretly distributed leaflets protesting against the regime of Adolf Hitler and the war being waged in Europe, highlighting the repressive nature of the Nazi police state and drawing attention to the mistreatment of Jews. The group took precautions to avoid capture by keeping the White Rose group very small. However, on 18th February 1943, the siblings Sophie and Hans Scholl were discovered distributing leaflets by a university janitor, who informed the Gestapo. Hans and Sophie were arrested and immediately admitted guilt, hoping to avoid being coerced into implicating their fellow members of the White Rose, but after further interrogation were forced to give up the names. Four days later, the Scholls and Christoph Probst - some of the founding members of the
group - were put on trial and found guilty of treason; they were sentenced to death. That
same day, February 22nd, the three were executed by beheading at Stadelheim Prison.
After their executions, the remaining members were arrested and killed,
thus ending the White Rose resistance movement. The White Rose, alongside other groups like the Edelweiss Pirates, are an important example of Germans speaking out against Hitler’s regime, and their deaths are yet another in the litany of Nazi crimes.
“We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!”
this day in 19423 during the Second World War, German troops surrendered to the Soviet Red Army in Stalingrad, thus ending five months of fighting. The battle began in August 1942 during the Nazi invasion of Russia
- codenamed Operation Barbarossa - and Adolf Hitler ordered an attack
on the major city of Stalingrad. Stalingrad became a major playing field
of the war, as Soviet leader Stalin was determined to save the city
which bore his name. Under the leadership of General Paulus, German
bombing destroyed much of the city and troops captured areas through
hand-to-hand urban warfare. In November, Marshal Zhukov assembled six Russian armies
to surround Stalingrad and trap the Germans in the city, barring
provisions and troops from reaching them. Many German soldiers died of
starvation and frostbite following the onset of the harsh Russian
winter, with temperatures down to -30°C, but Hitler insisted they fight
until the last man. After five months, the Russian Red Army claimed
victory when the remaining German troops surrendered in February 1943. 91,000 Germans were taken prisoner, including twenty-two
generals; this was all that remained of the 330,000 strong German force
who arrived at Stalingrad. The Battle of Stalingrad is among the
bloodiest battles of the Second World War, causing nearly two million
casualties. The disaster depleted the
German army’s supply of men and equipment, allowing the Allies to gain
which enabled them to invade Germany and win the war.
“The God of war has gone over to the other side” - Adolf Hitler upon hearing of the German surrender at Stalingrad