On this day in 1939, 140,000 Polish troops are taken prisoner by the German invaders as Warsaw surrenders to the superior mechanized forces of Hitler's army. The Poles fought bravely, but were able to hold on for only 26 days.
On the heels of its victory, the Germans began a systematic program of terror, murder, and cruelty, executing members of Poland's middle and upper classes: Doctors, teachers, priests, landowners, and businessmen were rounded up and killed. The Nazis had given this operation the benign-sounding name "Extraordinary Pacification Action."
The Roman Catholic Church, too, was targeted, because it was a possible source of dissent and counterinsurgency. In one west Poland church diocese alone, 214 priests were shot. And hundreds of thousands more Poles were driven from their homes and relocated east, as Germans settled in the vacated areas.
This was all part of a Hitler master plan. Back in August, Hitler warned his own officers that he was preparing Poland for that "which would not be to the taste of German generals"-including the rounding up of Polish Jews into ghettos, a prelude to their liquidation. All roads were pointing to Auschwitz.
Also on this Day
The 888-page Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is released after a 10-month investigation, concluding that there was no conspiracy in the assassination, either domestic or international, and that Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin, acted alone. The President’s commission, headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, also found that Jack Ruby... Read more >
Happy birthday to Google! Sort of! The internet company, that is so huge and powerful that it has turned into a verb, has taken September 27th as the day it celebrates its anniversary. Even though, in 2005, it picked the 26th as its birthday. And in other years its been September 7th, 8th or possibly 4th. I mean, it’s supposed to be the entire web’s ba... Read more >
In Rome, the Society of Jesus--a Roman Catholic missionary organization--receives its formal charter from Pope Paul III. Ignatius De Loyola, a Spanish soldier turned priest, founded the Society in 1534. Important in the Counter Reformation in the 16th century, Jesuit missionaries began fanning out from Europe in the 17th century. The highly educated Black Robes, as they were known in native Ame... Read more >
On this day in 1940, the Axis powers are formed as Germany, Italy, and Japan become allies with the signing of the Tripartite Pact in Berlin. The Pact provided for mutual assistance should any of the signatories suffer attack by any nation not already involved in the war. This formalizing of the alliance was aimed directly at “neutral” America–designed to force the United States to think ... Read more >