April 26

1812 Birth: Alfred Krupp: German arms merchant:

The Krupp family is a prominent 400-year-old German family from Essen, famous for their steel production and manufacture of ammunition and armaments. The family business, known as Friedrich Krupp AG in modern times, merged with Thyssen in 1999 to create ThyssenKrupp AG, a large industrial conglomerate. The metal business was started by Friedrich Krupp (1787-1826), who built a small steel foundry in Essen in 1811. His son, Alfred (1812-1887), known as "the Cannon King" or "Alfred the Great," invested heavily in new became a significant manufacturer of railway material and locomotives. He also invested in subsidized hotechnologies (notably the Bessemer process), acquired many mines in Germany and France, and using for his workers and started a program of health and retirement benefits. The company began to make steel cannons in the 1840's for the Russian, Turkish, and Prussian armies especially. Low non-military demand and government subsidy meant that the company specialized more and more in weapons, by the late 1880's the manufacture of armaments represented varied around 50% of the total output. When Alfred started the firm, it had five employees. At his death there were twenty thousand: the world's largest industrial company. [For further details, Click here.]

1848 Countdown to Infamy: Commander of the 16 gun US sloop-of-war USS Preble, Captain James Glynn, becomes the first American ever to conduct a successful negotiation with the recluse Japanese. The surviving Lagoda sailors (ill-treatment had caused two to die of exposure and one to commit suicide) are released to Glynn, who will, on his return, recommend to Congress that any future negotiations with Japan should be backed up by a demonstration of force.

[See: Countdown to Infamy: Timeline to Pearl Harbor.]

1868 Birth: Harold Rothermere: British newspaper owner and supporter of Hitler and Mosley: [For further information, click here.]

1894 Birth: Rudolf Hess: Deputy Leader of the Nazi Party and most powerful man in Nazi Germany after Hitler and Goering:

Hess, the son of a wealthy German businessman was born in Alexandria, Egypt. During World War I, he will be a second lieutenant, shock troop leader, aviator, and for a time will serve in the same Bavarian regiment as Hitler, though the two will not then meet. Hess will join the NSDAP in 1921 and become Hitler's private secretary in 1924; promoted to deputy to the Fuehrer in 1932 and appointed Reich minister without portfolio in 1933. Hess will fly to England on an ill-fated peace mission on May 10, 1941, probably without Hitler's knowledge, and will be declared mentally ill by his Fuehrer. Hess will be sentenced to life imprisonment at Nuremberg in 1946 and will be the last remaining prisoner in Spandau prison until his death under mysterious circumstances at the age of 93. [See: Was Rudolf Hess 'Crazy'? Why Would Hitler Approve Hess's Mission? Did Adolf Hitler Approve Hess's Mission? Did Hess Deserve His Life Sentence?]

1896 Birth: Ernst Udet: the second-highest scoring German flying ace of World War I. He was one of the youngest aces and was the highest scoring German ace to survive the war.

He joined the Nazi party in 1933 when Goering promised to buy him two new US airplanes, the Curtiss Export Hawk II. Those planes were use for evaluation purposes (and thus indirectly influenced the German idea of dive bombing airplanes, such as the Junkers Ju 87 (Stuka) bombers), but also were used for acrobation shows held during the 1936 Summer Olympics. Udet piloted one of those, which luckily survived the war and is on display in the Polish Aviation Museum (pictured below). Udet became a major proponent of the dive bomber, taking credit for having introduced it to the Luftwaffe, who were already interested in such designs. By 1936 he had, due largely to his political connections, been placed in command of the T-Amt, the Reich Air Ministry's development wing. He had no real interest in this job. [For further details, Click here.]

1913 Antisemitism: USA: Girl murdered in pencil factory:

Thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan is found sexually molested and murdered in the basement of the Atlanta, Georgia, pencil factory where she worked. Her murder later led to one of the most disgraceful episodes of bigotry, injustice, and mob violence in American history.

Next to Phagan's body were two small notes that purported to pin the crime on Newt Lee, the night watchman at the factory. Lee was arrested, but it quickly became evident that the notes were a crude attempt by the barely literate Jim Conley to cover up his own involvement. Conley was the factory's janitor, a black man, and a well-known drunk.

Conley then decided to shift the blame toward Leo Frank, the Jewish owner of the factory. Despite the absurdity of Conley's claims, they nevertheless took hold. The case's prosecutor was Hugh Dorsey, a notorious bigot and friend of Georgia's populist leader, Tom Watson. Reportedly, Watson told Dorsey, "Hell, we can lynch a nigger anytime in Georgia, but when do we get the chance to hang a Yankee Jew?"

Frank was tried by Judge Leonard Roan, who allowed the blatantly unfair trial to go forward even after he was privately informed by Conley's attorney that Conley had admitted to Frank's innocence on more than one occasion. The trial was packed with Watson's followers and readers of his racist newspaper, Jeffersonian. The jury was terrorized into a conviction despite the complete lack of evidence against Frank.

Georgia governor John Slaton initiated his own investigation and quickly concluded that Frank was completely innocent. Three weeks before his term ended, Slaton commuted Frank's death sentence in the hope that he would eventually be freed when the publicity died down. However, Watson had other plans: He mobilized his supporters to form the Knights of Mary Phagan. Thousands of Jewish residents in Atlanta were forced to flee the city because police refused to stop the lynch mob.

The Knights of Mary Phagan then made their way to the prison farm where Frank was incarcerated. They handcuffed the warden and the guards and abducted Frank, bringing him to Marietta, Phagan's hometown. There he was hanged to death from a giant oak tree. Thousands of spectators came to watch and have their picture taken in front of his lifeless body. The police did nothing to stop the spectacle.

Although most of the country was outraged and horrified by the lynching, Watson remained very popular in Georgia. In fact, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1920.

Frank did not receive a posthumous pardon until 1986, on the grounds that his lynching deprived him of his right to appeal his conviction. (History.com)

1915 World War I: Various:

List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment [List Regiment] occupy a position, at Fromelles (pictured above in a drawing by Hitler), which is on a level field with water channels, willow trees and willow stalks, in the distance towards the enemy lines lie an insignificant wood with barbed wire entanglements. Under the direction of their defense-minded commander, Lieutenant General Gustav Scanzoni von Lichtenfels, the regiment works ceaselessly day and night in the subsequent weeks, to further fortify their position at Fromelles. [For further details, Click here.]

Allies sign Treaty of London:

After receiving the promise of significant territorial gains, Italy signs the Treaty of London, committing itself to enter World War I on the side of the Allies. [For further details, Click here]

1916 World War I: List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler endures trench warfare in Flanders (Artois) with 3 Company, 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment. [For further details, Click here.]

1917 World War I: List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment, 3 Company, participate in the Arras action, being redeployed east of Vimy Ridge. [For further details, Click here.]

1918 World War I: List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16th RIR constructs fortified works in difficult defensive positions on an active front with German assault regiments near Fountaine (Montdidier). [For further details, Click here.]

1919 Volkishness: As Free Corps troops surround Munich, the Communists break into the Thule Society offices and arrest its secretary, Countess Heila von Westarp. Later that day, Thule members Walter Nauhaus, Prince Gustav von Thurn und Taxis, Baron Teuchert, Walter Deicke, Friedrich Wilhelm von Seydlitz, and Anton Daumelang are also captured. Rudolf Hess narrowly escapes capture by turning up late for a meeting, and watches helplessly as his friends are taken away. (THP)

1919 According to Hitler's account in Mein Kampf, a delegation of Red Guards call on the List Regiment for volunteers. Hitler writes that he jumped on a chair and harangued the soldiers, pleading with them to remain neutral and not to fight for "a pack of carpetbagging Jews." No other witness to this alleged event has ever come forward.

1933 Various:

Birth: Arno Allan Penzias: German-American astrophysicist who shared one-half of the 1978 Nobel Prize for Physics with Robert Woodrow Wilson for their discovery of a faint electromagnetic radiation throughout the universe. Their detection of this radiation lent strong support to the big-bang model of cosmic evolution. He was born in Munich, Germany. Aged six he fled to Britain as part of the Kindertransport. Six months later his parents also left Germany and the family settled in New York.

Church and Reich: Hitler tells Bishop Berning and Monsignor Steinmann, representatives of the Catholic Church in Germany, that he is only going to do to the Jews what the Church of Rome has been trying to do without success for over 1,500 years. Note: Hitler states that he is personally convinced of the great power and significance of Christianity and will not permit the founding of another religion. For this reason, he declares, he has parted company with General Ludendorff, and stresses that Rosenberg's anticlerical book is no concern of his — since it is a private publication. Being a Catholic himself, Hitler adds, he will not tolerate another Kulturkampf and the rights of the Church will be left intact. (THP)

[See: Was Adolf Hitler a Christian?]

The Gestapo:

As part of the deal in which Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, Hermann Goering (future commander of the Luftwaffe and an influential Nazi Party official) was named as Interior Minister of Prussia. This gave him command of the largest police force in Germany. Soon afterward, Goering detached the political and intelligence departments from the police and filled their ranks with Nazis. On 26 April 1933 Goering merged the two units as the Gestapo. [For further details, Click here.]

1935 Resistance: Dietrich Bonhoeffer establishes an underground seminary for the anti-Nazi Confessing Church at Zingst by the Baltic Sea, which in June will move to Finkenwalde in Pomerania. (THP)

1937 Spanish Civil War:

During the Spanish Civil War, the German military tests its powerful new air force—the Luftwaffe—on the Basque town of Guernica in northern Spain.

Although the independence-minded Basque region opposed General Francisco Franco's Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War, Guernica itself was a small rural city of only 5,000 inhabitants that declared nonbelligerence in the conflict. With Franco's approval, the cutting-edge German aircraft began their unprovoked attack at 4:30 p.m., the busiest hour of the market day in Guernica. For three hours, the German planes poured down a continuous and unopposed rain of bombs and gunfire on the town and surrounding countryside. One-third of Guernica's 5,000 inhabitants were killed or wounded, and fires engulfed the city and burned for days.

The indiscriminate killing of civilians at Guernica aroused world opinion and became a symbol of fascist brutality. Unfortunately, by 1942, all major participants in World War II had adopted the bombing innovations developed by the Nazis at Guernica, and by the war's end, in 1945, millions of innocent civilians had perished under Allied and Axis air raids. (History.com)

1938 Various:

Death: Edmund Husserl: Austrian-German philosopher, known as the "father" of phenomenology:

Professor Husserl was denied the use of the library at Freiburg as a result of the anti-Jewish legislation the National Socialists (Nazis) passed in April 1933. His former pupil and Nazi Party member, Martin Heidegger, informed Husserl that he was discharged. Heidegger (whose philosophy Husserl considered to be the result of a faulty departure from, and grave misunderstanding of Husserl's own teachings and methods) removed the dedication to Husserl from his most widely known work, Being and Time, when it was reissued in 1941.

Holocaust: The German government requires registration of all Jews with assets exceeding 5,000 Reichsmarks, whether in Germany or abroad. Only British and American Jews living in Germany are exempted. (THP)

1941 World War II: From a German administrative document found in the archives of the Gau Administration of Strasbourg: "If, after 1 June 1941, Alsatians are found still to have French flags in their possession, they are to be sent to a concentration camp for one year."

1942 Adolf Hitler demands and receives the powers of Supreme Law Lord of Germany. From his Reichstag speech:

I, for my part, acknowledge another precept which says that man must deal the final blow to those whose downfall is destined by God. So, what must happen, will happen. If, however, in the life of a people, judgment and reason seem to have been silenced, that does not necessarily mean that there is no thinking organ present where from outward appearances the only causes are stupidity or stubbornness. [For the full text, Click here.]

1943 World War II: Various:

FDR to Stalin:

I cannot believe that Sikorski has in any way whatsoever collaborated with the Hitler gangsters. In my opinion, however, he had erred in taking up this particular question with the International Red Cross. Furthermore, I am inclined to think that Prime Minister Churchill will find a way of prevailing upon the Polish Government in London in the future to act with more common sense. I would appreciate it if you would let me know if I can help in any way in respect to this question and particularly in connection with looking after any Poles which you may desire to send out of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Incidentally, I have several million Poles in the United States, a great many of whom are in the Army and Navy. I can assure you that all of them are bitter against the Hitlerites. However, the overall situation would not be helped by the knowledge of a complete diplomatic break between the Soviet and Polish Governments.

Katyn: The USSR breaks off relations with the exiled Poles following their demand for a Red Cross investigation of Katyn. Stalin prepares a pro-Soviet group of Poles in anticipation of taking over Poland.

Holocaust: SS and Police Fuehrer in the District of Warsaw to Higher SS and Police Fuehrer East:

The Poles resident in Warsaw are much impressed by the toughness of our operations in the former Ghetto. As can be seen from the daily reports, the general situation has greatly calmed down since the beginning of that operation within the city area of Warsaw. [For further details, Click here.]

1944 World War II: War with Japan:

U.S. Navy submarines began attacks on Japan's Take Ichi convoy as it sailed in waters between Taiwan and the Philippines, eventually sinking four vessels and killing over 4,000 troops. [For further details, Click here.]

1945 World War II: Various:

Churchill to Stalin:

This is about 'Crossword'. The German envoys, with whom all contact was broken by us some days ago, have now arrived again on the Lake of Lucerne. They claim to have full powers to surrender the Army in Italy. Field-Marshal Alexander is therefore being told that he is free to permit these envoys to come to AFHQ in Italy. This they can easily do by going into France and being picked up by our aircraft from there. Will you please send Russian representatives forthwith to Field-Marshal Alexander's headquarters. Field-Marshal Alexander is free to accept the unconditional surrender of the considerable enemy army on his front, but all political issues are reserved to the three Governments.

Stuttof: The Germans evacuate the last survivors by sea to Luebeck. Hundreds die during the voyage. (THP)

Goering: After his villa is bombed by the RAF, Goering convinces Bernhard Frank (above)—the leader of the SS squad holding him under house arrest—that it would be better if they all moved to Goering's castle in Mauterndorf. Early this morning, Goering, Lammers, Koller, and their SS guard leave for the castle. (Read)

As the party makes their way to Goering's castle in Mauterndorf, an announcement is made on German radio:

Reich Marshal Hermann Goering has been taken ill with his long-standing chronic heart condition, which has now entered an acute stage. At a time when the efforts of all forces are required, he has therefore requested to be relieved of his command of the Luftwaffe and all duties connected thereto. The Fuehrer has granted this request. The Fuehrer has appointed Colonel-General Ritter von Greim as the new Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe while simultaneously promoting him to Field Marshal.

Reitsch and von Greim: In the evening a small plane containing famed test pilot Hanna Reitsch and Luftwaffe General Ritter von Greim lands on an improvised air strip in the Tiergarten near the Brandenburg Gate following a daring flight in which Greim had been wounded in the foot by Soviet ground fire. Reitsch will later write that Hitler's 'head drooped heavily on his shoulders, and a continual twitching affected both his arms. His eyes glassy and remote, he greets us with an expressionless voice.'

The wounded Greim—who could just as well have been appointed by phone—is informed personally by Hitler that he is now a Field-Marshal and Goering's successor. Hitler tells them of Goering's 'treachery': 'Nothing is spared me! Nothing! Every disillusion, every betrayal, dishonor, treason has been heaped upon me. I have had Goering placed under immediate arrest, stripped him of all his offices, expelled him from every party organization.' Hitler abruptly ends the meeting and leaves the room. Note: Payne places this meeting on the 24th, while Kershaw maintains that it occurred on the 26th, which is the likely date. (Kershaw, Payne)

Vichy France: Marshal Henri Philippe Petain—head of France's Vichy government during World War II—is arrested on treason charges:

The lightning defeat of the French army by the Germans in June 1940 brought down the democratic Third Republic, which was replaced by a French state, headed by 84-year-old Marschal Philippe Petain, who had fought in World War One. He set up his capital at Vichy, a spa in the Auvergne. The Germans had divided France into occupied and non-occupied zones, leaving Petain's administration in charge of about two-fifths of the country—including the cities of Lyon and Marseille. Despite autonomy from German policies, Petain brought in legislation setting up a Jewish Statute in October 1940. By then about 150,000 Jews had crossed what was known as the Demarcation Line to seek protection from Vichy in the south - only to find they were subjected to fierce discrimination along lines practised by the Germans in the north. Jews were eventually banned from the professions, show business, teaching, the civil service and journalism. After an intense propaganda campaign, Jewish businesses were 'aryanised' by Vichy's Commission for Jewish Affairs and their property was confiscated. More than 40,000 refugee Jews were held in concentration camps under French control. [For further details, Click here.]

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 115 Hans Bernd Gisevius is cross-examined by the prosecution:

Mr. Justice Jackson: May it please the Tribunal: Dr. Gisevius, yesterday you made some reference to Herbert Goering in saying that Schacht had sent word to you about the Gestapo microphones in Schacht's house. Will you tell us who Herbert Goering was in relation to the defendant?

Gisevius: Herbert Goering was a cousin of the Defendant Goering. I had known him for many years. Herbert, as well as his brothers and sisters, warned me already years ago about the disaster which would overtake Germany if at any time a man like their cousin Hermann Goering should get a position of even the smallest responsibility. They acquainted me with the many characteristics of the defendant which all of us had come to know in the meantime, starting with his vanity, and continuing with his love of ostentation, his lack of responsibility, his lack of scruples, even to the extent of walking over the dead. In this way I already had some idea what to expect of the defendants. [For Gisevius' full testimony, Click here.]

From The Nuremberg Trial by Ann and John Tusa:

After eight relatively straightforward cases, the Prosecution now had to tackle a handful of trickier ones, cases which raised real difficulties and needed skill and some luck to win. The first of these—that of Julius Streicher—gave an appearance of simplicity, which was highly misleading. The misconception arose from assuming that someone so immediately repellent must be found guilty. Any spectator in court had an instant desire to go and wash thoroughly after being in the same room with the man. The sight of Streicher doing his daily exercises in prison soured the breakfast in the stomachs of prisoners and guards alike. He exercised stark naked. He was revolting. Everyone complained about the spectacle. Fritzsche tactfully presented him with a pair of shorts made by cutting down a pair of old trousers, but Streicher refused to wear them.

He had driven the other prisoners distracted in the early weeks in jail by bellowing in the night. Andrus stopped that—he threatened punishment and Streicher fell silent. Andrus could not, however, stop Streicher telling him incessantly that General Eisenhower was a Jew (and that was why he attacked Germany) and that Jackson was a Jew (whose real name was Jacobson). Andrus did not need a report from Gilbert to tell him that Streicher was 'rigid, insensitive, and of obsessive mentality.' That was plain for all to see. He was also well aware that Streicher was 'the least intelligent and least amenable of all defendants.'

It was, however, possible to extract occasional entertainment from Streicher's stupidity and one-track mind. Andrus once sent interrogators to him, accompanied by a blond, blue-eyed Jewish interpreter. Streicher, always susceptible to a handsome young man, had been thrilled. He called the interpreter 'a perfect example of a German Nordic.' Gilbert told Andrus that such was Streicher's fastidiousness on racial questions that he 'considers the Bible pornographic literature, and has no use even for Christ because he was a Jew. Streicher considered himself an expert on pornography . . . .

Given his repellent aspect and driveling mind, Streicher should never have gone into the witness box. If he had had a modicum of self-awareness and common sense, he would have avoided drawing attention to himself, and encouraged his counsel to play on the undoubted weakness of the prosecution case. Instead, he gave evidence and submitted to cross-examination for a day and a half . . . . It began with a bitter denunciation of his counsel . . . . Streicher continued with a shrill protest about the conditions he had suffered in captivity, complaining that he had been kept for days without clothes (an odd complaint from a nude exerciser) and that he had been "made to kiss Negroes' feet." He paused for breath and then screamed: "My mouth was forced open with a piece of wood and then I was spat on. When I asked for a drink of water I was taken to a latrine . . . . These are the sort of things the Gestapo had been blamed for." This section was later struck from the record.

With that off his chest, Streicher then settled down to a less impassioned rant about the way Jews had seized power in Germany . . . . 'Well,' said Fritzsche, as the Streicher case finished, 'they've put a rope around his neck after all; at least our end of the dock thinks so.' It might have been more accurate to say that Streicher himself had put his head in the noose. But would the judges allow the defendant to hang himself rather than expect the evidence to do it?

[See: Did Julius Streicher Deserve his Death Sentence?]

Nuremberg Tribunal: Julius Streicher testifies on his own behalf:

And so, Gentlemen, in the year 1921‑-I return now to that period‑-I went to Munich. I was curious because someone had said to me, "You must hear Adolf Hitler some time." And now destiny again takes a hand. This tragedy can only be grasped by those whose vision is not limited to the material, but who can perceive those higher vibrations which even today have not had their full outcome. I went to the Munich Buergerbraeukeller. Adolf Hitler was speaking there. I had only heard his name. I had never seen the man before. And there I sat, an unknown among unknowns.

I saw this man shortly before midnight, after he had spoken for 3 hours, drenched in perspiration, radiant. My neighbor said he thought he saw a halo around his head; and I, Gentlemen, experienced something which transcended the commonplace. When he finished his speech, an inner voice bade me get up. I went to the platform. When Adolf Hitler came down, I approached him and told him my name. The Prosecution has submitted a document to the Tribunal which recalls that moment. Adolf Hitler wrote in his book, Mein Kampf, that it must have cost me a great effort to hand over to him the movement which I had created in Nuremberg. I mention this because the Prosecution thought that these things in Hitler's book, Mein Kampf, should be submitted and used against me. Yes, I am proud of it; I forced myself to hand over to Hitler the movement which I had created in Franconia. This Franconian movement gave the movement which Adolf Hitler had created in Munich and southern Bavaria a bridge to northern Germany. That was my doing. [For more of Streicher's first day of testimony, Click here.]

1954 Cold War: Geneva Conference begins:

In an effort to resolve several problems in Asia, including the war between the French and Vietnamese nationalists in Indochina, representatives from the world's powers meet in Geneva. The conference marked a turning point in the United States' involvement in Vietnam.

Representatives from the United States, the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, France, and Great Britain came together in April 1954 to try to resolve several problems related to Asia. One of the most troubling concerns was the long and bloody battle between Vietnamese nationalist forces, under the leadership of the communist Ho Chi Minh, and the French, who were intent on continuing colonial control over Vietnam. Since 1946 the two sides had been hammering away at each other. By 1954, however, the French were tiring of the long and inclusive war that was draining both the national treasury and public patience. The United States had been supporting the French out of concern that a victory for Ho's forces would be the first step in communist expansion throughout Southeast Asia. When America refused France's requests for more direct intervention in the war, the French announced that they were including the Vietnam question in the agenda for the Geneva Conference. [For further details, Click here]

2007 Estonia: Controversy surrounding the relocation of the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn, a Soviet Red Army World War II memorial in Tallinn, Estonia, erupted into mass protests and riots. (Wikipedia Daily Article)

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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