1880 Birth: Ludwig Beck:
Chief of Staff of the German Armed forces during the early years of the Nazi regime in Germany before World War II. Born in Biebrich in the Rhineland, he was educated in the conservative Prussian military tradition. After serving on the Western Front in World War I, he rose through the ranks, eventually being appointed to the General Staff in 1933. Two years later, he was made Chief of Staff. Beck resented Hitler for his efforts to curb the army's position of influence.
Though he was hardly a pacifist, he opposed wars of conquest and only supported ideological war when he believed that the military was fully prepared for it. Beck tried very early as Chief of the General Staff to deter Hitler from annexing the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia in 1938. Hitler was convinced that, since England and France had allowed him to annex Austria during the Anschluss earlier in the year, they would not stand in his way when he would try again to enlarge the Reich. Beck, however, believed that they would defend the country that they had created at the end of World War I and, if necessary, declare war on Germany to protect it. Since he knew that the Wehrmacht would not be strong enough to win a war against England and since he was extremely respected by his fellow officers, he tried to convince all to resign en masse to prevent Hitler from carrying out his plans. When he found out that none of them would go along, he resigned alone in August to be replaced at the head of the General Staff by General Franz Halder. Alternatively it is reported that in August 1938, Hitler relieved him of command. Beck ceased to have any meaningful influence in German military affairs.
His opposition to Hitler brought him in contact with a number of individuals who shared his views. Many of them, including Carl Goerdeler and Ulrich von Hassell as well as himself, would later take part in the July 20 Plot in 1944. Beck and the conspirators believed that Hitler's power was not as strong as he believed it to be. They thought that a clear threat of war from England to Germany if it chose to invade Czechoslovakia would allow them to brand Hitler as a warmonger and depose him from office. To that end, they sent some emissaries to the British Foreign Office to convince British diplomats to oppose Hitler as clearly and as strongly as they could. Unfortunately, the prevailing attitude in the Foreign Office at that time was to avoid war by appeasing Hitler instead of calling his bluff as the conspirators would have liked to do. To their dismay, in September 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French President Edouard Daladier signed the Munich Pact which allowed Hitler to annex the Sudetenland.
In 1943, Beck planned two abortive attempts to kill Hitler by means of a bomb. In 1944 he was one of the driving forces of the July 20 Plot with Carl Goerdeler and Colonel Count Claus von Stauffenberg. When the plot failed, Beck committed suicide rather than suffer torture and execution. He tried twice to kill himself before being executed in the early hours of July 21. According to one version of the story, he was so shaken up, that two bullets that he attempted to shoot into his brain missed, so that he finally had to ask a sergeant to help him finish the job.
1913 The second Balkan War begins. See: Twenty-five lectures on Modern Balkan History (The Balkans in the Age of Nationalism) by Steven W. Sowards.
1915 World War I: Various:
Austro-Hungarian Protest Regarding Shipment of US Munitions to Britain:
The far-reaching effects which result from the fact that for a long time a traffic in munitions of war to the greatest extent has been carried on between the United States of America on the one hand and Great Britain and its allies on the other, while Austria-Hungary as well as Germany have been absolutely excluded from the American market, have from the very beginning attracted the most serious attention of the Imperial and Royal Government. If now the undersigned permits himself to address himself to this question, with which the Washington Cabinet has been concerned until now only with the Imperial German Government, he follows the injunction of imperative duty to protect the interests entrusted to him from further serious damage which results from this situation as well to Austria-Hungary as to the German Empire.
List Regiment: : Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment continues to occupy a position at Fromelles—pictured above in a drawing by Hitler)—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.]
Hitler and his fellow dispatch runners
1916 World War I: Various:
List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler endures trench warfare in Flanders (Artois) with 3 Company, 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment [List Regiment]. [For further details, Click here.]
Irish nationalist Sir Roger Casement is found guilty of treason and sentenced to death:
Born in Dublin on 1 September 1864 the son of a Protestant father and Catholic mother, Casement served for many years as a distinguished British Consul in Mozambique, Angola, the Congo Free State and Brazil. He gained international renown for his Consular reports criticising the treatment of native workers in the Congo and Amazon. As a consequence of his reports Belgium notably overhauled its administration of the Congo in 1908. Casement himself was rewarded with a knighthood in 1911, the same year he retired from the diplomatic service in ill-health and established himself in Dublin.
Casement helped to form in 1913 the Irish National Volunteers, a nationalist organisation. The following year, in July 1914, Casement visited New York in an attempt to garner support for the organisation. With the outbreak of war the following month Casement similarly hoped for German assistance in gaining Irish independence from Britain. With this in mind Casement travelled to Berlin in November 1914; once there however he found the Germans reluctant to undertake the risk of sending forces to Ireland. He was also disappointed in his hopes of recruiting to his cause Irish prisoners taken to Germany. While in Germany Casement strove in particular to effectively borrow a number of German officers to assist with a planned Easter rising in Dublin; again, he was disappointed. Believing the planned rising unlikely to succeed at that stage Casement arranged to be taken by German submarine to Ireland where he hoped to dissuade nationalist leaders from undertaking rebellion for the present.
Consequently he was landed near Tralee in County Kerry on 12 April 1916. Twelve days later he was arrested by the British, taken to London, and charged with treason. At about this time copies of a diary (the 'Black Diary') reputed to be written by Casement were circulated among government officials, detailing alleged homosexual practices with native boys.
Although clearly an attempt by the British to discredit Casement the diaries' authenticity was verified by an independent panel of scholars in 1959 and, more recently, in 2002. With an appeal dismissed Casement was taken to Pentonville Prison in London where he was hanged on 3 August 1916.
Click here for Casement's speech following his conviction.
Click here for the British government's reaction to news of the conviction.
German Naval Minister's Report on the Battle of Jutland:
The High Sea Fleet, consisting of three battleship squadrons, five battle-cruisers, and a large number of small cruisers, with several destroyer flotillas, was cruising in the Skagerrak on May 31st for the purpose, as on earlier occasions, of offering battle to the British fleet. The vanguard of small cruisers at 4.30 o'clock in the afternoon suddenly encountered ninety miles west of Hanstholm, a group of eight of the newest cruisers of the Calliope class and fifteen or twenty of the most modern destroyers. While the German light forces and the first cruiser squadron under Vice-Admiral Hipper were following the British, who were retiring northwestward, the German battle-cruisers sighted to the westward Vice-Admiral Beatty's battle-cruiser squadron of six ships, including four of the Lion type and two of the Indefatigable type. Beatty's squadron developed a battle line on a southeasterly course and Vice-Admiral Hipper formed his line ahead of the same general course and approached for a running fight.
1917 World War I: List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16th RIR is deployed for Phase 1 operations in Flanders, Belgium. [For further details, Click here.]
1918 World War I:List Regiment: (June 17-27): Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16th RIR endures trench warfare at Passy sur Marne. [For further details, Click here.]
1933 Church and Reich: Franz von Papen leaves Berlin for Rome:
Franz Von Papen had the dubious honor of negotiating and signing on behalf of the Nazis, the infamous concordat with the Vatican in 1933 . . . . Hitler naturally appreciated Von Papen's political gestures in smoothing his rise to power. And of this achievement he would kindly remark about him: "Herr Von Papen, through your assistance I was appointed Chancellor of Germany and thus the Reich was saved."
1934 Blood Purge: In response to the rumors of an SA coup, Hitler tells those close to him: 'I've had enough. I shall make an example of them.'
Hitler made a scheduled inspection tour of a labor service camp and then went to a hotel near Bonn for the night. He was informed by Himmler that evening by phone that SA troops in Munich knew about the coming action and had taken to the streets. Hitler decided to fly to Munich to put down the SA rebellion and confront Roehm and top SA leaders who were gathered at the resort town of Bad Wiessee.
1936 The US Merchant Marine Act of 1936 takes effect:
It is necessary for the national defense and development of its foreign and domestic commerce that the United States shall have a merchant marine (a) sufficient to carry its domestic water-borne commerce and a substantial portion of the water-borne export and import foreign commerce of the United States and to provide shipping service on all routes essential for maintaining the flow of such domestic and foreign water-borne commerce at all times (b) capable of serving as a naval and military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency. [For further details, Click here.]
1938 Holocaust: Austria: Nearly 40,000 Jews are dismissed from their jobs.[See: Austria: The Other Germany.]
Roma Genocide: The first group of Gypsy women from Austria are sent to Ravensbrueck concentration camp. They number some 440.
German Foreign Office Memorandum:
In connection with the telegram of Count Schulenburg concerning the Hilger-Mikoyan conversation, the Fuhrer has decided the following: The Russians are to be informed that we have concluded from their attitude that they make the continuation of further talks dependent upon the acceptance of the bases of our economic discussions, as they were fixed for January. Since this basis was not acceptable to us, we would not be interested in a resumption of the economic discussions with Russia at the present time. The Fuhrer agreed that this answer be delayed for a few days. I notified the Reich Foreign Minister of this by telephone, and I am sending tints note only as a guide for a conference of the competent official with the Minister. Hewel. BERCHTESGADEN, June 29, 1939. Respectfully submitted herewith to State Secretary von Weizsacker.
German Ambassador in the USSR (Schulenburg) to German Foreign Office:
This afternoon I had a conversation with Molotov, who received me immediately after I had been announced. The conversation lasted over an hour and proceeded in a friendly manner. I described to Molotov the impressions which I had gained from talk with influential personalities in Berlin, particularly with the Reich Foreign Minister. I pointed out that we would welcome a normalization of the relations between Germany and Soviet Russia, as the State Secretary had stated to the Soviet Charge in Berlin. For this we had furnished a number of proofs, such as reserve in the German press, conclusion of the non-aggression treaties with the Baltic countries and desire for resumption of economic negotiations. From all this it was evident that Germany did not have any bad intentions toward the Soviet Union, particularly since the Berlin Treaty was still in force. We, on the German side, would continue to take advantage of any opportunity to prove our goodwill. However, we had had no answer from the Soviet Union to the question of what Molotov meant in his last conversation with me by "creation of a new basis of our relationship" ["Schaffung einer Neuregelung der Basis"].
We also objected to the attitude of the Soviet press. Molotov replied that he received my statements with satisfaction. The foreign policy of the Soviet Government was, in accordance with the pronouncements of its leaders, aimed at the cultivation of good relations with all countries, and this of course applied-provided there was reciprocity-to Germany too. He was gratified that in the opinion of the German Government the Berlin Treaty was still in force, particularly since the Soviet Government had had doubt about that. As to the question of the treaty negotiations for non-aggression pacts with the Baltic countries, Molotov remarked that Germany had concluded them in her own interest, and not out of love for the Soviet Union. He had to doubt the permanence of such treaties after the experience which Poland had had; to which I replied that Poland had herself caused the termination of the treaty by joining a combination hostile to us, which was irreconcilable with friendly relations to us.
Concerning the question of resuming economic negotiations Molotov referred to the last conversation between Mikoyan and Hilger. Molotov showed himself informed, approved the attitude of Mikoyan, and suggested that we give Mikoyan the desired information. After settlement of this question the trip to Moscow contemplated by Schnurre would perhaps prove useful. My impression is that the Soviet Government is greatly interested in knowing our political views and in maintaining contact with us. Although a strong distrust was evident in everything that Molotov said, nevertheless he described normalization of relations with Germany as desirable and possible. Progress is to be seen also in the fact that Molotov, in connection with the resumption of economic negotiations, this time did not speak of prior creation of a political basis, but confined himself to Mikoyan's demand. I request telegraphic instructions whether and in what form compliance should be given to Mikoyan's requests, presented also by Molotov.
Sec. 31. (a) It shall be the duty of every alien now or hereafter in the United States, who (1) is fourteen years of age or older, (2) has not been registered and fingerprinted under section 30, and (3) remains in the United States for thirty days or longer, to apply for registration and to be fingerprinted before the expiration of such thirty days. (b) It shall be the duty of every parent or legal guardian of any alien now or hereafter in the United States, who (1) is less than fourteen years of age, (2) has not been registered under section 30, and (3) remains in the United States for thirty days or longer, to apply for the registration of such alien before the expiration of such thirty days. Whenever any alien attains his fourteenth birthday in the United States he shall, within thirty days thereafter, apply in person for registration and to be fingerprinted . . . .
[Note: The Act goes further than a simple administrative measure, containing in addition sections appropriate to a Treason Act, concerning actions inimical to the loyalty, morale, or discipline of the military or naval forces of the United States, and knowingly or willfully to "advocate, abet, advise, or teach the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government.]
1941 World War II: Various:
The Russians followed a scorched-earth policy upon being invaded by the Germans; that is, they would destroy, burn, flood, dismantle, and remove anything and everything in territory they were forced to give up to the invader upon retreating, thereby leaving the Germans little in the way of crops, supplies, industrial plants, or equipment. (It was a policy that had proved very successful against Napoleon in the previous century.) This time, as the Germans captured Lvov, the Soviet NKVD, the forerunner of the KGB secret police, proceeded to murder 3,000 Ukrainian political prisoners.
The German invaders were seen as liberators, if for no other reason than they were the enemy of Poland and Russia, two of Lvov's, and Ukraine's, enemies. But release from the Soviet grip only meant subjection to Nazi terror. Within days, administrative control of Ukraine was split up between Poland, Romania, and Germany. Some 2.5 million Ukrainians were shipped to Germany as slave laborers, and Ukrainian Jews were subjected to the same vicious racial policies as in Poland: Some 600,000 were murdered. (Ukrainian nationalists also had blood on their hands in this respect, having gone on the rampage upon the withdrawal of Russian troops by [making Jews scapegoats] for "Bolshevism," killing them in the streets.)
Far North: On the Arctic front in northern Finland, the German 20 Gebirgsarmee (Dietl) launches Unternehmen Silberfuchs (Operation Silver Fox), an offensive to capture the Soviet port of Murmansk. Several divisions of the Soviet West Front (Pavlov) are encircled near Bialystok.
Holocaust: Einsatzgruppe A: A report states that by this date 2,300 Jews have been "rendered harmless" in Kaunas, Lithuania.
[For trial transcripts and related documents from the "Einsatzgruppen Case", Click here.]
1942 World War II: Various:
North Africa: The Afrikakorps captures Mersah Matruh in Egypt.
Church and Reich: The Vatican points out to the head of the Slovak government, Dr. Josef Tiso, a Catholic priest, that the 52,000 Jews deported from Slovakia in the spring had been sent away not for labor service but for annihilation. The deportations now grind to a halt because Eichmann's emissary has instructions to avoid "political complications." Thereafter, the Slovakian Jews will live in relative security until September 1944. (THP) [See: Rommel.]
1943 World War II: Various:
Kirovograd Conference: According to Payne (Life and Death of Adolf Hitler) Hitler allegedly arranges a secret conference with the Russians at Kirovograd, 200 miles behind the German lines. Ribbentrop, representing Hitler, offers to end the war on condition that Germany would retain the Ukraine and all territory west of the Dnieper River. Molotov, representing Stalin, replies that they will never settle for anything short of their old, prewar frontier. See June 30. [Note: There is no documentation, or even eye-witnesses, to confirm this event. Even though the story is often told, it is no doubt pure fantasy.]
War at Sea: Germany begins to withdraw its U-Boats from the North Atlantic in anticipation of an Allied invasion of Europe.War in the Pacific: US forces land at Nassau Bay, near Salamaua, New Guinea.
In the letter, Roosevelt sought to smooth over the growing antagonism between Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves, the military leader in charge of the ["Manhattan Project"]. Roosevelt began by congratulating Oppenheimer . . . on the progress of a "highly important and secret program of research, development and manufacture with which you are familiar." No mention was made, of course, of the phrase "Manhattan Project" or "atomic bomb." Roosevelt conveyed a sense of urgency in solving "the problem" and bringing the project to fruition. He stressed the project's bearing on national security.
Roosevelt's letter acknowledged Oppenheimer as the leader of an elite group of scientists operating under strict security and under "very special conditions." He had received reports that the brain trust of scientists tapped to deliver an atomic weapon were starting to snap under the pressure of trying to meet what they saw as an impossible deadline. Oppenheimer and Groves frequently clashed over the scientists' living and working conditions. The small isolated community resented living under heavy guard in the desert of New Mexico. Many of the experts had doubts the bomb could even be built at all and questioned the wisdom of working with such dangerous material.
Roosevelt appealed to Oppenheimer to convince the group of the necessity of the restrictions and asked him to convey his appreciation for their hard work and personal sacrifice. Roosevelt expressed his faith that "whatever the enemy may be planning, American science will be equal to the challenge." The letter reflected Roosevelt's natural ability to rally morale, whether it was subduing revolt among physicists working on a crucial new weapon, or reassuring American mothers of the need for food rationing in a time of war.
Two years later, at a test site near Alamogordo, New Mexico, the first atomic bomb was successfully detonated. Roosevelt would not live to decide whether or not to use the new and powerful weapon in World War II. He died on April 12, 1945, leaving the decision to his successor, Harry S. Truman. Truman authorized the use of the world s first atomic weapons against Japan on August 6 and 9, 1945.
1944 World War II: Various:
Russian Front:German troops of Heeresgruppe Mitte (Busch) encircled near Bobruisk surrender to the Red Army (70,000 prisoners). In the West, Cherbourg is captured by the US VII Corps (Collins).
V-weapons: During the month of June, V-1 attacks kill 1,935 and injure 5,906.[See: Wunderwaffen: Hitler's Deception and the History of Rocketry.] From Albert Speer's SBS Interview:
For one thing the dispersal (of V-2 hits) was so great that no real effect could be obtained. I considered the nerves of the Englishmen to be so good that they would stick it out anyway. And your victories came first. A victorious nation could not be impressed by that. I believe however, that the development of the V-2 will definitely be the most important factor for war in later times. At the present time it did not come to full effectiveness. It can be launched from a ship, from every street. They do not need a previously prepared launch site and in the course of time their striking accuracy will be just as great as with bombing . . . .
It happened that the development of the V-2 had been sponsored for so long by the Army that it was a matter of honor with the Army to bring it to conclusion. The V-2 was therefore protected with particular love by the Army Armament Office (Heereswaffenamt), and it was in contrast to all other items that the Army got a special quota in order that nothing could happen to it. One could almost have gotten the impression that we did not have any other special interest. The V-1 was begun in competition with the Luftwaffe. I was surprised at the propaganda effect which the V-1 called forth and that there was such a stir about it. I was really the vanquished, for I had always said that it would have no effect at all on the enemy, and then there came rather excited reports.
Further details must be learned from Field Marshal Milch, who promoted this with the overall aircraft people (Ueberalluftreugmeister). The V-2 was supported by the former Lt. General Fromm and General Leeb. The interest of the Fuehrer was first awakened several months previously by a lecture at Headquarters. Until then he did not expect so much from it. He was instructed about the V-2 by Braun and Dornberger. The developer of the V-1 was named Lusser.
Slave Labor: Paul Saab, a district commissioner in the territory of Wassilkov, to Alfred Rosenberg:
According to a charge by the Supreme Command of the Army, I burned down several houses . . . in the territory of Wassilkov, Ukraine, belonging to insubordinate people ordered to labor service-this accusation is true . . . .
During the year of 1942 the conscription of workers was accomplished nearly exclusively by way of propaganda. Only rarely was force necessary. But in August 1942, measures had to be taken against two families in the villages of Glevenka and Soliony-Shatior, each of which were to supply one person for labor. Both had been requested in June for the first time but had not obeyed, although requested repeatedly. They had to be brought in by force, but succeeded twice in escaping from the collecting camp in Kiev or while in transit. Before the second arrest, the fathers of both of the workers were taken into custody as hostages to be released only when their sons appeared. When, after the second escape, the re-arrest of both the young men and the fathers was ordered, the police patrols detailed to do this, found the houses empty . . . .
At that time I decided at last to take measures to show the increasingly rebellious Ukrainian youth that our orders have to be followed. I ordered the burning of the houses of the two fugitives. The result was that in the future people obeyed, willingly, orders concerning labor obligations. However, the practice of burning houses has not become known for the first time by my actions, but was suggested in a secret letter from the Reich Commissioner for Allocation of Labor (Note: Sauckel) specifically as a coercive measure in case other measures should fail. This harsh punishment was acceptable to the local population because previous to this step both families had ridiculed on every hand the duty-conscious people who sent their children partly voluntarily to the labor allocation . . . .
After initial successes, a passive resistance of the population started, which finally forced me to turn again to arrests, confiscations, and transfers to labor camps. After a whole transport of conscripted laborers overcame the police at the railroad station in Wassilkov and escaped, I saw again the necessity for strict measures. A few ringleaders, who of course had long since escaped, were located in Plissezkoje and in Mitnitza. After repeated attempts to get hold of them, their houses were burned down . . . .
My actions toward fugitive labor draftees were always reported to District Commissioner Dohrer, of the Wassilkov office, and to the Commissioner General in Kiev. Both of them knew the circumstances and agreed with my measures because of their success.
Holocaust: 1,600 of the 1,800 Jews of Corfu are gassed shortly after their arrival at Auschwitz. The rest are forced into slave labor. 20,000 Jewish women are evacuated from the slave labor camps at Auschwitz to Stutthof. That spring, the Germans had started building 60 new slave labor camps in the area, to replace those already overrun by the Soviets. (THP)
1945 World War II: Various:
Operation Downfall: Invasion plans for Japan are presented to President Truman and approved. The operation was planned, to be complete within one year of the end of the war in Europe, and to have two major components:
Olympic: November 1, 1945. Invasion of Southern Kyushu to provide a large base for naval and air forces within range of Tokyo.
Coronet: March 1, 1946. Invasion of Central Honshu and Tokyo.
Ruthenia—formerly in Czechoslovakia—becomes part of the Ukrainian SSR.
The President: (quoting from an affidavit) "On such occasions Dr. Goebbels stated that there was no longer any objection to handing over crew members of crashed planes to the wrath of the people." (addressing Fritzsche) As you know, there has been a great deal of evidence about that before this Tribunal. Did you in your propaganda speeches make any references to this subject?
Fritzsche: No, I never advocated in my propaganda speeches that the crews of aircraft which had been shot down should be killed. On the other hand, I know that Dr. Goebbels, for reasons of intimidation, ordered reports to be sent abroad already in the fall of 1944, reports to the effect that, to quote an example, an Anglo Saxon airplane which had machine-gunned churchgoers in the street on a Sunday had been shot down and the members of the crew had been lynched by the people. Actually this report had no factual basis ... in the days after the air attack on Dresden . . . the following incident occurred. Dr. Goebbels announced in the "11 o'clock morning conference," which has been mentioned quite frequently in this courtroom, that in the Dresden attack 40,000 people had been killed . . . .
Dr. Goebbels added that in one way or another an end would now have to be put to this terror; and Hitler was firmly determined to have English, American, and Russian flyers shot in Dresden in numbers equal to the figure of Dresden inhabitants who had lost their lives in this air attack. Then he turned to me and asked me to prepare and announce this action.
1952 Albert Speer: Leni Riefenstahl, after receiving a request from Annemarie Kemp to assist in appeals for an early release from Spandau Prison for Albert Speer, replies:
As I've been traveling, I only received your letter from June 6 today but want to reply at once. Above all I want to say that I will do anything to help Herr Speer. Already before getting your letter, I asked a friend in Berlin to contact Mr. Lewinsohn [sic. Levinsohn, head of the Berlin Denazification Board for the US occupation authorities], to inform him that I am at his disposal as a witness for Speer . . . . I suggest that, when you are next in Berlin, you pay a visit to my friend, who knows Mr. Lewinsohn and was himself present at my own hearing . . . and get him to advise you . . . also my own very good lawyer. At all my hearings—and you know there have been many—I have testified about Herr Speer, of course in his favor, describing him as I know him . . . . Please keep me informed about him, but also about Frau Speer . . . perhaps the day will come when I will be in a position to help in one way or another . . . . Is there anything I can send him? Can one? Anyway, I'm so relieved that, thanks to you, I can now communicate with him. (Sereny)
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