May 18

1652 Slavery: USA: Rhode Island passes the first law in North America making slavery illegal. [For further details, Click here]

1876 Birth: Hermann Mueller:

[Mueller] the son of a wine manufacturer, was born in Mannheim, Germany . . . . He studied in Mannheim and Dresden before finding work in Breslau.

In 1893 Mueller joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and six years later was appointed editor of its newspaper in Goerlitz. On the suggestion of August Bebel he became a member of the party's executive committee in 1906. In 1914 Mueller travelled to France where he met with other European socialists in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid the First World War. Too old to join the German Army Mueller was elected to the Reichstag in 1916.

After the war Mueller became joint chairman of the Social Democratic Party and in 1919 became minister of foreign affairs and was one of the signatories of the Versailles Peace Treaty. In 1928 Mueller published his book, The November Revolution. After the parliamentary elections of that year Mueller became chancellor in a coalition government that included the Social Democratic Party, the Catholic Centre Party and the Nationalist Party (DNVP).

On 12th March 1930, Mueller accepted the Young Plan but fifteen days later he resigned as chancellor when his party refused to accept his proposal on reduce unemployment benefits.

Hermann Mueller died on 20th March, 1931. [For further details, Click here.]

1883 Birth: Walter Gropius: German architect and founder of Bauhaus:

Gropius fled Germany in 1934 due to the rising power of the Nazi Party, and lived and worked in Britain, at the Isokon project, and then, from 1937 to the United States, where his own house, the Gropius House in Lincoln, Massachusetts, was influential in bringing International Modernism to the US. [For further details, Click here]

1891 Birth: Rudolf Carnap: Influential philosopher who was active in central Europe before 1935 and in the United States thereafter. He was a leading member of the Vienna Circle and a prominent advocate of logical positivism. Carnap, under no illusions about what the Third Reich was about to unleash on Europe, and whose socialist and pacifist convictions made him a marked man, emigrated to the United States in 1935 and became a naturalized citizen in 1941. [For further details, Click here]

1896 USA: The Supreme Court endorses the concept of "separate but equal" racial segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson, a precedent that was not overturned until Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.

1897 Birth: Frank Capra: American motion-picture director:

Frank Capra was born on May 18, 1897, in Palermo, Sicily. In 1903 his family crossed the Atlantic in steerage and settled in Los Angeles. Vowing to rise from poverty, the boy read voraciously. He worked from elementary school on, first selling newspapers while battling other newsboys for choice selling sites. Unlike his six siblings, he went to college, the California Institute of Technology, where he won a scholarship while holding several jobs, and was graduated in 1918. He then enlisted in the Army, where he taught mathematics.

After World War I, unable to get engineering work, he became a vagabond for several years, roaming around the West, doing menial jobs and variously selling books and wildcat mining stocks. He tricked his way into movies by giving an aspiring producer the impression he was a director. For $75 he adapted and directed a Rudyard Kipling barroom poem, spending $1,700 to make the one-reeler, which was sold to Pathe for $3,500. Mr. Capra became, successively, a prop man, film cutter, assistant director, title-frame writer and gag writer for Hal Roach's "Our Gang" comedies and Mack Sennett's Keystone Comedies.

At Columbia Pictures he made a quickie comedy, "That Certain Thing," won a long-term contract and directed successes like "Submarine," "Flight," "Dirigible," "Platinum Blonde," with Jean Harlow, and "The Miracle Woman," with Barbara Stanwyck. Hitting his stride, he turned to contemporary issues. In "American Madness" (1932), a banker (Walter Huston) lends money on the basis of character rather than collateral. The bank suffers a run, but the people he had trusted save the day. In "The Bitter Tea of General Yen," Mr. Capra dealt daringly with racism and miscegenation. The movie, starring Miss Stanwyck and Nils Asther, opened Radio City Music Hall in 1933. In the next eight years, Mr. Capra made an unbroken succession of hits.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, he joined the Army again. Before going on active duty he filmed Broadway farce, "Arsenic and Old Lace," starring Cary Grant. During the war, Colonel Capra produced a series of acclaimed propaganda movies showing the contrast between freedom and totalitarianism. The first of the series, "Prelude to War," won the best-documentary Oscar in 1942. He also won the Distinguished Service Medal, France's Legion of Merit and the Order of the British Empire.

After the war, Mr. Capra and several colleagues formed an independent production company, Liberty Films. But financing and taxes became obstacles and they eventually sold the company to Paramount. Though Mr. Capra got $1 million in the sale, he lost full control of the film-making process. [For further information, click here.]

1911 Death: Gustav Mahler: Austrian composer:

In 1906 the seventeen-year-old Adolf Hitler, on his first visit to the city, heard Gustav Mahler conduct Tristan und Isolde at the Vienna Court Opera. The concrertmaster resigned shortly afterward, disheartened by intrigues and anti-Semitism. Surprisingly, Hitler and Kubizek sided with the 'crooked nosed Mahlerians' and 'Hebrews' in the master's defense. They greatly admired Mahler because he was "uncompromising in his artistic demands" and had produced the music dramas of Wagner "with a perfection that for its time literally shone." Alfred Roller, Mahler's closest associate, was the set designer and chief visual interpreter of Wagner's work at the Court Opera throughout Hitler's years in Vienna. Roller was a modernist, yet the conservative Hitler was in awe of him. Against all odds, in 1908 Hitler secured a letter of introduction to the great man but could not summon the courage to knock on his office door. Finally, after two other attempts, Hitler tore up the letter without meeting him.

[For further details, concerning Mahler, Click here]

1915 World War I: List Regiment:

Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment continues to 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 lies 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 to further fortify their position at Fromelles while fighting off repeated assaults by the enemy. [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 Various:

World War I: U.S. Congress passes Selective Service Act:

Some six weeks after the United States formally entered the First World War, the U.S Congress passes the Selective Service Act on May 18, 1917, giving the U.S. president the power to draft soldiers. [For further details, Click here]

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

Birth: George Welch: World War II flying ace, a Medal of Honor nominee for his actions on Pearl Harbor Day, and an experimental aircraft pilot after the war. Welch is best known for being the first pilot to break the 'sound barrier' (one week before Chuck Yeager) in his prototype XP-86 Sabre. The flight is generally not recognized as an official record, however, because of a lack of a verifiable speed measurement.

[For further details, Click here]

1918 World War I: List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16th RIR is sent is sent back behind the lines for a period of rest that will last until May 30. [For further details, Click here.]

1920 Birth: Pope John Paul II:

On May 18, 1920, Karol Jozef Wojtyla is born in the Polish town of Wadowice, 35 miles southwest of Krakow.Wojtyla went on to become Pope John Paul II, history’s most well-traveled pope and the first non-Italian to hold the position since the 16th century. After high school, the future pope enrolled at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University, where he studied philosophy and literature and performed in a theater group. During World War II, Nazis occupied Krakow and closed the university, forcing Wojtyla to seek work in a quarry and, later, a chemical factory. By 1941, his mother, father, and only brother had all died, leaving him the sole surviving member of his family . . . .

When the war ended, he returned to school at Jagiellonian to study theology, becoming an ordained priest in 1946. He went on to complete two doctorates and became a professor of moral theology and social ethics. On July 4, 1958, at the age of 38, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Krakow by Pope Pius XII. He later became the city’s archbishop, where he spoke out for religious freedom while the church began the Second Vatican Council, which would revolutionize Catholicism. He was made a cardinal in 1967, taking on the challenges of living and working as a Catholic priest in communist Eastern Europe. Once asked if he feared retribution from communist leaders, he replied, “I’m not afraid of them. They are afraid of me.”

Wojtyla was quietly and slowly building a reputation as a powerful preacher and a man of both great intellect and charisma. Still, when Pope John Paul I died in 1978 after only a 34-day reign, few suspected Wojtyla would be chosen to replace him. But, after seven rounds of balloting, the Sacred College of Cardinals chose the 58-year-old, and he became the first-ever Slavic pope and the youngest to be chosen in 132 years.

A conservative pontiff, John Paul II’s papacy was marked by his firm and unwavering opposition to communism and war, as well as abortion, contraception, capital punishment, and homosexual sex. He later came out against euthanasia, human cloning, and stem cell research. He traveled widely as pope, using the eight languages he spoke (Polish, Italian, French, German, English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin) and his well-known personal charm, to connect with the Catholic faithful, as well as many outside the fold . . . .

In February 2005, the pope was hospitalized with complications from the flu. He died two months later. Pope John Paul II is remembered for his successful efforts to end communism, as well as for building bridges with peoples of other faiths, and issuing the Catholic Church’s first apology for its actions during World War II. He was succeeded by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI. Benedict XVI began the process to beatify John Paul II in May 2005. [For further information, click here.]

1930 Church and Nazis: Local Storm troopers (SA) attend religious services at the Cathedral of Regensburg, bringing with them their flags and banners.

1933 Various:

Church and Reich: The general secretary of the Catholic Journeyman's Association invites Hitler to a national meeting of apprentices to be held in Munich the following month. (THP) [See: Was Adolf Hitler a Christian?]

The Central British Fund for World Jewish Relief is established in London: The Fund's mission, according to its Memorandum of Association, was "to relieve or assist Jewish Refugees in any part of the world in such manner and on such terms and conditions (if any) as may be thought fit". In this work the fund was aided by various organisations, including the Jewish Refugees Committee (JRC) which was founded by Otto Schiff in 1933, the Children's Refugee Movement (established by the JRC and the Inter-Aid Committee), and the Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad, which was established in 1943 and financed by the Central Council for Jewish Refugees (as the Central British Fund (CBF) was then known).

1934 Nazis & Asians: The Nazis decide not to apply the "Aryan Clause" to Asians.

[Just as a matter of interest: As World War II intensified, the Nazis stepped up pressure on Japan to hand over the Shanghai Jews. Warren Kozak describes the episode when the Japanese military governor of the city sent for the Jewish community leaders. The delegation included Amshinover Rebbe, Shimon Sholom Kalish.

The Japanese governor was curious: "Why do the Germans hate you so much?"

Without hesitation and knowing the fate of his community hung on his answer, Reb Kalish told the translator (in Yiddish): "Zugim weil mir senen orientalim" (Tell him [the Germans hate us] because we are Orientals.)

The governor, whose face had been stern throughout the confrontation, broke into a slight smile. In spite of the military alliance, he did not accede to the German demand and the Shanghai Jews were never handed over. [For further details, Click here.]

1936 Various:

The Peel Commission is announced by the (British) Colonial Office to investigate the disturbances in Palestine.

From the report of a conversation with the United States Ambassador, Mr. Bullitt:

[Constantin] von Neurath said that it was the policy of the German Government to do nothing active in foreign affairs until the Rhineland had been digested. He explained that he meant that, until the German fortifications had been constructed on the French and Belgian frontiers, the German Government would do everything possible to prevent rather than encourage an outbreak by the Nazis in Austria and would pursue a quiet line with regard to Czechoslovakia.

"As soon as our fortifications are constructed and the countries of Central Europe realize that France cannot enter German territory at will, all those countries will begin to feel very differently about their foreign policies and a new constellation will develop," he said.

1939 Various:

Holocaust: Julius Streicher's Der Stuermer calls for the extermination of all Jews in the Soviet Union, saying that it is the only way to eliminate Bolshevism. [See: Did Julius Streicher Deserve his Death Sentence?]

Conscription: reinstated in the United Kingdom.

1940 World War II: Various:

From the diary of General Franz Halder:

Every hour is precious. FHQ. sees it quite differently. Fuehrer keeps worrying about south flank. He rages and screams that we are on the way to ruin the whole campaign. He won't have any part in continuing the operation in a westward direction, let alone to the south-west, and still clings to the plan for the north-westerly drive. [See: Was Adolf Hitler a 'Great' Military Leader?]

Tyler Kent:

[Kent] a clerk in the US Embassy in London with access to correspondence between Churchill and Roosevelt, is arrested and has his diplomatic immunity waived by the US ambassador. Allegedly, he had passed along this information to members of the Right Club, a pro-Fascist organization, which forwarded it to Germany through Italian diplomats.

Shortly after his arrest, Kent gave a statement to Maxwell Knight of MI5 in which he admitted having shown his collection of Embassy documents to Anna Wolkoff and also to Captain Archibald Ramsay (1895-1955) the Conservative MP for Peebles. Ramsay, who was arrested on 23 May 1940 and interned without trial until September 1944, was the founder of the Right Club a secret anti-Jewish, anti-war organisation of which Kent and Wolkoff were members. On launching the Right Club in June 1939, Ramsay had declared that 'Hitler is a splendid fellow with whom we should be proud to be friends'.

Among the 250 other members listed in the Membership Book of the Right Club were one Prince, two Princesses, one Duke, one Marquess, two Earls, five other Lords, two Professors, two Reverend Gentlemen, six Doctors, twelve MPs, nineteen retired Officers and sundry others with 'Sir', 'Lady' or 'Hon.' prefixing their names.

1941 Death: Werner Sombart: German economist and sociologist, head of the "Youngest Historical School" and one of the leading Continental European social scientists during the first quarter of the 20th century.

During the Weimar Republic, Sombart moved to the political right; his relation to the Nazis is heavily debated until today. His 1938 anthropology book, Vom Menschen, is clearly anti-Nazi, and was indeed hindered in publication and distribution by the Nazis. His earlier book, Die Juden und das Wirtschaftsleben (1911), is a pendant to Max Weber's study on the connection between Protestantism (especially Calvinism) and Capitalism, only that Sombart puts the Jews at the core of the development. This book was seen as philosemitic when it appeared, but several contemporary Jewish scholars describe it as antisemitic, at least in effect.

In his attitude towards the Nazis, he is often likened to Martin Heidegger and his friend and colleague Carl Schmitt, but it is clear that, while the latter two tried to be the vanguard thinkers for the Third Reich in their field and only became critical when they were too individualistic and elbowed out from their power positions, Sombart was always much more ambivalent. Sombart had many, indeed more than proportional, Jewish students, most of which felt after the war moderately positive about him, although he clearly was no hero nor resistance fighter.

1942 Resistance: The Herbert Baum group organises an arson, attacking an anticommunist and anti-Semitic propaganda display prepared by Joseph Goebbels at the Berliner Lustgarten. The attack was only partially successful and, within days, a large number of the group's members were arrested and 20 were sentenced to death. Baum and his wife Marianne were arrested on May 22. Herbert Baum committed suicide in Moabit prison on June 11, 1942. His wife, Marianne, was executed in Ploetzensee Prison on August 18, 1942.

[For further details, Click here]

1943 World War II: Various:

Hitler gives the order for Italy: Operation Alaric:

Adolf Hitler launches Operation Alaric, the German occupation of Italy in the event its Axis partner either surrendered or switched its allegiance.

This operation was considered so top secret that Hitler refused to issue a written order. Instead, he communicated verbally his desire that Field Marshal Erwin Rommel should assemble and ultimately command 11 divisions for the occupation of Italy to prevent an Allied foothold in the peninsula. [See: How Did the Pact of Steel Effect Germany and Italy?]

Poland: The village of Szarajowka in eastern Poland is encircled by the Germans. Young men are shot on the spot. The women and children are herded into buildings and stables, which are then set on fire. Only a few escape. (THP) [See: Lest We Forget.]

1944 World War II: Various:

Polish Corps takes Monte Cassino:

On this day in 1944, the Polish Corps, part of a multinational Allied Eighth Army offensive in southern Italy, finally pushes into Monte Cassino as the battle to break German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring's defensive Gustav Line nears its end. [For further details, Click here]

Expulsion begins of more than 200,000 Tatars from the Crimea:

Although a great number of Crimean Tatar men served in the Red Army and took part in the partisan movement in Crimea during the war, the existence of the Tatar Legion in the Nazi army and the collaboration of Crimean Tatar religious and political leaders with Hitler during the German occupation of Crimea provided the Soviets with a pretext for accusing the whole Crimean Tatar population of being Nazi collaborators.

Modern researchers also point to the fact that a further reason was the geopolitical position of Crimea where Crimean Tatars were perceived as a threat. This belief is based in part on an analogy with numerous other cases of deportations of non-Russians from boundary territories (see, e.g., Involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union), as well as the fact that other non-Russian populations, such as Greeks, Armenians and Bulgarians have also been removed from Crimea.

All Crimean Tatars were deported en masse, in a form of collective punishment, on 18 May 1944 as special settlers to Uzbek SSR and other distant parts of the Soviet Union. The decree "On Crimean Tatars" describes the resettlement as a very humane procedure. The reality described by the victims in their memoirs was different. 46.3% of the resettled population died. [For further details, Click here.]

1945 World War II: War against Japan: The US 6th Marine Division takes Sugar Loaf Hill on Okinawa after several days of bitter fighting.

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Grand Admiral Erich Raeder continues his testimony:

It is entirely clear that, since I was involved in a naval war with England with my small German Navy, I did not want, under any circumstances, to have America on my neck as well; and it has been discussed here repeatedly that my most urgent effort during the entire first few years of the war was to avoid, under all circumstances, being involved with the United States. Admiral Wagner described here in detail the limitations which I had imposed on the German Navy in order to prevent any clashes with the United States. I imposed limitations which actually I could hardly justify when I carried on U-boat warfare with such relatively small means.

On the other hand, the United States from the end of 1940 on, at the latest, and during the entire year of 1941, exerted pressure on us in our naval warfare wherever possible and committed actions which could be interpreted as definitely not neutral. I remind you merely of the repairing of British warships in the United States, something which up until that time was completely impossible and unheard of; and Roosevelt's orders to shoot given in July and in September 1941; attacks by the American destroyers Greer and Kearney in the Atlantic on our U-boats. In two cases U-boats were pursued with depth charges for 2 hours until finally they surfaced and fired, in one case damaging one destroyer.

Despite all this, in June 1941 I reported to Hitler that we were continuing not to disturb the merchantmen of the United States in any way-with the result that United States merchantmen were crossing the Atlantic completely unmolested on sea lanes of their own choosing, were in a position to give reports about our U-boats and our sea warfare without our preventing them from doing so; because of this the British were in a position to camouflage their ships as American ships. That they did. [For the full text of Raeder's testimony, Click here.]

1951 The United Nations moves from its temporary headquarters in Lake Success, N.Y., to its permanent home in Manhattan.

1969 Wunderwaffen: Apollo 10 is launched on a mission that serves as a dress rehearsal for the first moon landing.

1974 India joins the nuclear club:

In the Rajasthan Desert in the state of Pokhran, India successfully detonates its first nuclear weapon, a fission bomb similar in explosive power to the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The test fell on the traditional anniversary of the Buddha's enlightenment, and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi received the message "Buddha has smiled" from the exuberant test-site scientists after the detonation. The test, which made India the world's sixth nuclear power, broke the nuclear monopoly of the five members of the U.N. Security Council—the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, China, and France. [For further details, Click here.]

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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