May 24, 2018


MAY 24


HMS Hood was attacked by the Bismarck:  Just before 06:00 on May 24, 1941, the pride of the British fleet, HMS Hood turned 20° to port to unmask her rear turrets in readiness to exchange fire. But just at that moment the Bismarck launched its fifth salvo from a distance of about 16,650 metres (18,210 yd) and hit the boat deck of the Hood, dumping debris and body parts on deck. The Hoods main mast burst into a huge jet of flame followed by an apocalyptic explosion that completely destroyed the aft part of the destroyer. The HMS Hood sank in three minutes, and was partially submerged in a vertical position. The last sight of the ship was her bow, before she disappeared beneath the waves.  (HMS  Hood, accompanied by the battleship Princes of Wales were sent out along with several other Allied ships, to hunt for the Bismarck. The Bismarck had started sail towards the Atlantic earlier in May 1941 and the Allied mission was to intercept the German battleship before it could attack Allied convoys. The German ship was spotted by two British heavy cruisers (Norfolk & Suffolk) on May 23,  and Holland's ships intercepted Bismarck and her consort, the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, in the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland on May 24. The Polish destroyer, ORP Piorun also took part in the hunt for the Bismarck. In fact she was the first to spot the German ship and took part in shadowing it, and launching torpedo attacks on the Bismarck the night before she was sunk. The Piorun charged at the Bismarck by herself, and exchanged fire with her for half an hour with no hits on either side. But when the Bismarck's third salvo missed the Piorun by only 20 yards (18m), Plawski pulled back. According to an official report, which was detailed at the Auschwitz I exhibition, Oświęcim, Poland, Pławski transmitted the message "I am a Pole" before commencing fire on Bismarck; other sources claim that the signal to commence fire was "Trzy salwy na cześć Polski" (Three salvos for the glory of Poland).


The "Angel of Death" Mengele arrived at Auschwitz:  Josef Mengele was posted to Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp as chief physician to the Romani family camp, appointed by SS Standortarzt Eduard Wirths, chief medical officer at Auschwitz. Birkenau camp was originally chosen to imprison slave laborers, but was re-purposed to combine the labor camp with an extermination camp.  The Nazis deported Jews from all over German-occupied Europe, and the prisoners arrived in daily rail convoys in massive numbers.  The  SS soon after began conducting "selections" of Jews who were fit for labor, and those who were deemed unfit, (women, children, pregnant women, the elderly) were marked for extermination in the gas chambers.  Mengele was among the team of doctors assigned to do the selections, and he undertook this work even while off-duty, in the hope of finding subjects for his personal experiments. Mengele injected chemicals directly into the eyes of living victims to see if it would change the eye color, and he killed prisoners with heterochromatic eyes so that the eyes could be removed and sent to Berlin for study. He was obsessed with searching for twins, and carried out his sadistic experiments on them with a cheerful, flamboyant air, often smiling or whistling a tune. After the twins were killed, he would dissect them for study.  He experimented on dwarfs, pregnant women, and victims with physical abnormalities included taking physical measurements, drawing blood, extracting healthy teeth, and treated them with unnecessary drugs and X-rays. Many were sent to the gas chambers after about two weeks, and their skeletons shipped to Berlin for further study. On one occasion where Mengele personally killed fourteen sets of twins in one night by chloroform injections directly into the heart.  In other cases, if one twin died of a disease, Mengele killed the other so that comparative post-mortem reports could be prepared.  According to the reports by Nyiszli and others, Mengele's twin studies might have been motivated by the desire to improve the reproduction rate of the German race by improving the chances of racially desirable people having twins. (Note:  Dr. Miklós Nyiszli, was an Hungarian Jewish pathologist, who arrived in Auschwitz on May 29, 1944. He performed dissections and prepared specimens for shipment in this laboratory. )

May 23, 2018


MAY 23


Hitler proclaimed his intention to invade Poland during a  military conference at the new Reich Chancellery in Berlin.  Hitler's objective of the conference was to inform the heads of the German armed forces and their staff of his views on the political situation and his future goals.  He professed that his dispute with Poland over Danzig (now Gdansk) was not the reason for the planned attack, but rather that it was a necessity for the German nation to expand its living space (lebensraum) and secure food supplies. He went further to say, "The solution of the problem demands courage. The principle by which one evades solving the problem by adapting oneself to circumstances is inadmissible. Circumstances must rather be adapted to. This is impossible without invasion of foreign states or attacks upon foreign property."


SS-Reichsführer Himmler committed suicide while in British custody.  On May 21, Himmler and two aides tried to go into hiding but were detained at a checkpoint set up by former Soviet POWs. Over the next two days, he was transferred around to several camps and was finally brought to the British 31st Civilian Interrogation Camp near Lüneburg. During a routine interrogation Himmler admitted who he was, and the duty officer had the prisoner searched. Himmler was taken to the HQ of the Second British Army in Lüneburg where Doctor Wells conducted a medical exam on him. The doctor attempted to examine the inside of Himmler's mouth, but the Himmler refused to comply, jerked his head away and bit into a hidden cyanide pill. He collapsed onto the floor and was dead within 15 minutes.

May 22, 2018


MAY 22


Pope John Paul II made his sixth visit to Poland to commemorate John Sarkander, patron saint of Silesia and Moravia. (The Pope visited: Skoczów, Bielsko-Biała, Żywiec.) (Pope John Paul II canonized Sarkander on his visit to the Czech Republic on May 21, 1995.  Sarkander was a Polish Roman Catholic priest who became active in the defense of the Christian faith during a period of hostile anti-Christian sentiment and conflict.  He was arrested on false accusations as a means of silencing him and he refused to give in to his tormentors who tortured him for a month before he died. His captors attempted to obtain secret information that he would not divulge, even under torture, because the seal of confession is sacred to a priest.


Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus' remains were reburied in Archcathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Andrew, located in Frombork, Poland after a 200 year search for his tomb.  After his death on May 24, 1543,  his remains rested in an unmarked grave beneath the floor of the cathedral  but its exact location was unknown. At the urging of a local bishop, scientists began searching in 2004 for the astronomer's remains and eventually turned up the skull and bones of a 70-year-old man, the age Copernicus was when he died. DNA from teeth and bones matched that of hairs found in one of his books, leading the scientists to conclude in all probability that they had finally found Copernicus.  Copernicus worked as a canon in the Basilica  (1512–16 and 1522–43) where he wrote his epochal work, De revolutionibus orbium cœlestium in Frombork.  Shortly after its 1543 publication, Copernicus died and was buried in the Basilica. (read also February 19, 1473)