January 21, 2018




Lenin died from a massive stroke:  After Lenin's death, Stalin's administration established the ideology known as Marxism-Leninism, a movement that was interpreted differently by various  factions in the Communist ideology. After being forced into exile by Stalin's administration, Trotsky argued that Stalinism was a debasement of Leninism, which was dominated by bureaucratism and Stalin's own personal dictatorship. After Stalin's death,  Georgy Maximilianovich Malenkov succeeded Stalin as temporary leader of the Soviet Union in 1953. His rapid rise ascent in Soviet leadership was due to family ties with Stalin. Malenkov was heavily involved in Stalin's purges and was was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev as leader of the Soviet Union. Khrushchev began a process of de-Stalinisation, citing Lenin's writings, including those on Stalin, to legitimize this process.  When Mikhail Gorbachev took power in 1985 and introduced the policies of glasnost and perestroika, he too cited these actions as a return to Lenin's principles.


German submarine U-1199 was sunk in the English Channel by depth charges from British destroyer HMS Icarus and British corvette HMS Mignonette at 49°57′N 05°42′W..  The vessel had  forty-seven crew of which only one man, the Chief Petty Officer Navigator, survived by escaping through the conning tower as the submarine flooded.  U 1199 was attempting to enter the Channel on her second patrol when she was attacked and sunk. Following are a few excerpts from a report of the interrogation of survivors of U-1199:   ' This prisoner declared that he had never been allowed to plot their course on the chart, but took his orders from the Commanding Officer, who himself acted as navigator and gave him bearings by observing lights at periscope depth.  He remembered that the Commanding Officer had sighted the Wolf Rock lighthouse from a distance of about 5 miles, half an hour before the engagement. ....On 21st January a convoy was heard and the U-boat came to periscope depth.  The Commanding Officer sighted about sixty ships and a spread of torpedoes was fired.  The prisoner believed that they hit one 10,000 ton and one 8,000 ton ship. ....The U-boat bottomed and shortly afterwards experienced the effects of the first depth charge attack, which caused a small leak in the bow compartment, which subsequently became a large inrush of water; and the main motors were put out of action.  The attack continued for several hours, successive patterns of depth charges causing still further damage; the magnetic compass was smashed, and rotary converters dislodged.  The after control room bulkhead was closed and the prisoner was ignorant of what happened after.  In the forward compartment the water was rising rapidly, and when it had risen three feet above the floor-plates, the Commanding Officer ordered the crew to abandon ship.  The prisoner said that he put the mouthpiece of his life jacket into his mouth and ascribe that the rest of the crew to failed to do this and were suffocated by chlorine gas, which was by this time forming.  He saw men collapsing one by one.'
(Source:   http://www.uboatarchive.net/U-413INT.htm)

January 20, 2018




Duke Wladyslaw Lokietek was crowned King of Poland. He was a Duke until 1300, and Prince of Kraków from 1305. He was nicknamed, "Lokietek" because of his short stature. (Lokietek is a diminutive of the word "lokiec" which means "ell" or "elbow", a medieval measure of length, as in "elbow-high".) For the two hundred years preceding Lokietek's birth, Poland was besieged by dynastic wars (due to infighting among the princes of each of the five provinces). During Wladyslaw's reign, he reunited these disparate provinces and restored order and stability in the Kingdom of Poland.


Treaty of Andrussovo ended the Thirteen Years War (also called the Russo-Polish War) between Tsarist Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Though the Commonwealth initially suffered defeats, it regained strength and won several battles. However, the Commonwealth's economy had been severely plundered by the Russians, so that Poland could not continue to finance a prolonged war - to do so would have incited civil war and unrest. The Commonwealth were forced under these circumstances to sign a truce which gave the Russians the extensive territories of the Left-bank Ukraine, Siever lands, and Smolensk, as well as the city of Kiev, among other terms. It was a truce signed for 13.5 years during which time both states agreed to prepare the conditions for the eternal peace. It marked the beginning of the rise of Russia as a great power in Eastern Europe.


At the end of World War One, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, and imposed several restrictions on the German nation.  As a result of President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, the Treaty also restored the sovereignty and independence of Poland -  after 123 years of oblivion. The Second Republic of Poland (1920–1939) was granted control of 130 km of the Baltic shoreline in the corridor dividing East Prussia from the rest of Germany and the entire Duchy of Posen.


The Wannsee Conference was held in Berlin, led by Reinhard Heydrich,  to coordinate a Europe-wide "Final Solution of the Jewish Question", and to ensure the cooperation of administrative leaders of various government departments in the implementation of the deportation to Poland of European Jewry, their detention in extermination camps located in the General Government (Nazi-occupied Poland),and their systematic murder. Although killing of Jews had already been underway, the persecution and murder of Jews reached unprecedented levels after Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. By the end of World War II, 6 million Jews had been killed through starvation, disease, murder, as well as 4 to 5 million ethnic Poles. Many other victims were non-Jews and including Germans and Soviets. These statistics do not include all the Nazi genocides committed.


Winston Churchill met with representatives of the Polish government-in-exile in an effort to break the diplomatic impasse with the Soviets. Churchill pressured the Poles to accept the Curzon Line as a basis for discussion, explaining that the Soviets' need for security as well as their enormous battlefield sacrifices to liberate Poland from the Germans entitled the Soviets to ask for revision of Polish frontiers. Churchill promised in return to challenge Moscow's demand for changes in the Polish government.


The German Evacuation of East Prussia towards the end of World War Two. It is not to be confused with the expulsion after the war had ended, under Soviet occupation. The evacuation was initiated due to German fears of the advance of the Red Army during the East Prussian Offensive. Some parts of the evacuation were planned as a military necessity, such as that of Operation Hannibal. But many German refugees fled of their own accord due to the reports of Soviet atrocities against Germans still in Soviet-controlled areas.


Wladyslaw Gomulka won Poland's parliamentary election. Gomulka was the de facto leader of post-war Poland until 1948 and again from 1950 to 1970. Initially, his reforms were very popular, ie a "Polish way to socialism" but during the 1960s he became more rigid and authoritarian, unwilling to permit changes, and supported the persecution of the Catholic Church and intellectuals (particularly Leszek Kołakowski, who was forced into exile).


Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Polish-American diplomat served as National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from January 20, 1977 to January 20, 1981. Before that he was a counselor to President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1966 to 1968. Major foreign policy events during his time in office included the normalization of relations with the People's Republic of China (and the severing of ties with the Republic of China on Taiwan); the signing of the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II); the brokering of the Camp David Accords; the transition of Iran from an important U.S. ally to an anti-Western Islamic Republic; encouraging dissidents in Eastern Europe and emphasizing human rights in order to undermine the influence of the Soviet Union;  the arming of the mujahideen in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; and the signing of the Torrijos–Carter Treaties relinquishing U.S. control of the Panama Canal after 1999.

January 19, 2018




In 1861 Ludwik Mierosławski became a commander of Polish-Italian military school in Genoa. On January 19,1863 he returned to Poland to join the January Uprising, where he became the leader of the Uprising. Eventually after suffering two defeats (Battle of Krzywosądz and Battle of Nowa Wieś), and political conflict with Marian Langiewicz, Mierosławski resigned his position, and returned to Paris. He would be a vocal critic of the preparation and organization of the January Uprising. He continued to take part in politics of Polish emigrants, but he lost popularity.


With German troops mostly driven out of Poland and the entry of Soviet Troops, Home Army (Armia Krajowa) Commander Leopold Okulicki ordered his forces to disband. (Note: Okulicki ordered the disbandment of the Home Army for fear that the presence of an allied force in Poland would only lead to more people being murdered or arrested by the Soviets. Following an NKVD provocation, he was arrested and imprisoned in Moscow. According to Okulicki, “In comparison with the NKVD, the Gestapo methods are child's play."


Rigged Elections: Polish legislative elections were held, the first since World War Two. The elections were marred by violence. Anti-Communist opposition candidates and political activists were harassed and persecuted by 100,000 men of the Volunteer Reserve Militia (ORMO). According to official results, the Democratic Bloc (dominated by the communist Polish Workers Party, Polish Socialist Party (PPS), People's Party (SL), Democratic Party (SD) and non-partisan candidates) gained 80.1% of the vote and 394 of the 444 seats in the Legislative Sejm. The largest opposition party, the Polish People's Party, was officially credited with 28 seats. In a Time Magazine article, "In a spirit of partisan exuberance tempered with terror, Poland approached its first nationwide popular election, ten days hence. By the last week most of the combined opposition (Socialist and Polish Peasant Party) candidates had been jailed, and their supporters more or less completely cowed by the secret police, by striking their names from voting lists and by arrests. The Communist-dominated Government ventured to predict an "overwhelming" victory."

Leszek Balcerowicz (dob) was a Polish professor of economics at the Warsaw School of Economics, the former chairman of the National Bank of Poland and Deputy Prime Minister in Tadeusz Mazowiecki's government. He was famous for implementing the Polish economic transformation program in the 1990s commonly referred to as the Balcerowicz Plan. The Balcerowicz Plan was a series of reforms, which sought to end hyperinflation and balance the national budget. This resulted in a substantial increase in prices and had forced state-owned companies to become competitive. This amounted to a real shock to the Polish economy. He received harsh criticism for his plan, but most economists agree that without introducing such radical changes, Poland's economic success and steady economic growth would not have been possible.