July 30

1898 Death: Former German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (born April 1, 1815, Schoenhausen, Altmark, Prussia—died . . . Friedrichsruh, near Hamburg) Prussian statesman who founded the German Empire in 1871 and served as its chancellor for 19 years.

Born into the Prussian landowning elite, Bismarck studied law and was elected to the Prussian Diet in 1849. In 1851 he was appointed Prussian representative to the federal Diet in Frankfurt. After serving as ambassador to Russia (1859-62) and France (1862), he became prime minister and foreign minister of Prussia (1862-71).

When he took office, Prussia was widely considered the weakest of the five European powers but, under his leadership Prussia won a war against Denmark in 1864 (see Schleswig-Holstein Question), the Seven Weeks' War (1866), and the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). Through these wars he achieved his goal of political unification of a Prussian-dominated German Empire. Once the empire was established, he became its chancellor. The "Iron Chancellor" skillfully preserved the peace in Europe through alliances against France (see Three Emperors' League; Reinsurance Treaty; Triple Alliance). Domestically, he introduced administrative and economic reforms but sought to preserve the status quo, opposing the Social Democratic Party and the Catholic Church (see Kulturkampf). When Bismarck left office in 1890, the map of Europe had been changed immeasurably. However, the German Empire, his greatest achievement, survived him by only 20 years because he had failed to create an internally unified people.

1913 The Second Balkan War ends: The Second Balkan War began when Serbia, Greece, and Romania quarreled with Bulgaria over the division of their joint conquests in Macedonia.

As a result of the Balkan Wars, Greece gained southern Macedonia as well as the island of Crete. Serbia gained the Kosovo region and extended into northern and central Macedonia. Albania was made an independent state under a German prince. The political consequences of the wars were considerable. Bulgaria, frustrated in Macedonia, looked to Austria for support, while Serbia, which had been forced by Austria to give up its Albanian conquests, regarded Vienna with greater hostility than ever.

1914 Various:

Countdown to World War I: Further telegrams sent, in the original English, between the German Emperor, Wilhelm II, and his cousin the Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, in the immediate run-up to the outbreak of war. The original source for the telegrams is The Kaiser's Letters to the Tsar, copied from the government archives in Petrograd, and brought from Russia, edited by Isaac Don Levine, published by Hodder and Stoughton (London, 1920)

Nicky to Willy: Thank you heartily for your quick answer. Am sending Tatischev this evening with instructions. The military measures which have now come into force were decided five days ago for reasons of defence on account of Austria's preparations. I hope from all my heart that these measures won't in any way interfere with your part as mediator which I greatly value. We need your strong pressure on Austria to come to an understanding with us. Nicky.

Willy to Nicky: Best thanks for telegram. It is quite out of the question that my ambassador's language could have been in contradiction with the tenor of my telegram. Count Portales was instructed to draw the attention of your government to the danger & grave consequences involved by a mobilisation; I said the same in my telegram to you. Austria has only mobilised against Servia & only a part of her army. If, as it is now the case, according to the communication by you & your Government, Russia mobilises against Austria, my role as mediator you kindly intrusted me with, & which I accepted at you[r] express prayer, will be endangered if not ruined. The whole weight of the decision lies solely on you[r] shoulders now, who have to bear the responsibility for Peace or War."

1914 Death: Jean Jaures—Socialist leader and pacifist—assassinated in Paris by a deranged Action Française supporter.

1915 World War I: Various:

List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment continue 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.]

Battle of Hooge:

In Flanders, Belgium, on July 30, 1915, the Germans put their new weapon, the flammenwerfer, or flamethrower, to devastating use against the Allies at the Battle of Hooge.

The Battle of Hooge represented one of the first major employments of the flamethrower, one of the most feared weapons introduced during World War I. Eleven days before the battle, British infantry had captured the German-occupied village of Hooge, located near Ypres in Belgium, by detonating a large mine. Using the flamethrowers to great effect, along with machine guns, trench mortars and hand grenades, the Germans reclaimed their positions on July 30, 1915, penetrating enemy front lines with ease and pushing the British forces back to their second trench. Though few men were lost to actual burns, a British officer reported later, the weapons had a great demoralizing effect, and when added to the assault of the other powerful weapons, they proved mercilessly efficient at Hooge.

German troops had started with stationary flamethrowers, which allowed them to take large gains of land at Verdun in February 1915. Through the efforts of Bernhard Reddemann, a reserve captain, and Richard Fiedler, a Berlin engineer, the Germans progressed to smaller, lighter models, including a portable version, carried like a backpack. The number of flamethrower attacks conducted by Reddeman's men in the first half of 1916 was three times that of 1915.

One great puzzle that emerged from World War I was why Germany's opponents never made equal use of this terrifying weapon. The British made three attempts with larger, more unwieldy prototypes: the smallest one was equal in size to the German Grof, which the enemy had almost abandoned by 1916. The French were more persistent, and by 1918 had at least seven companies trained in using flamethrowers; the use of the weapon never progressed to the same level as that in the German army, however.

The flamethrower was included, along with the submarine, the battleship, heavy artillery, the tank, poison gas and the zeppelin, on the list of weapons forbidden to German forces by the Treaty of Versailles. After Hitler came to power in 1933, though, and Germany began to rebuild its army, backpack flamethrowers were liberally supplied to the combat forces, and the formidable flammenwerfer would again play a deadly role in the clashes of World War II. (History.com)

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.]

USA: German saboteurs blow up a munitions plant on Black Tom Island, New Jersey.

1917 World War I: List Regiment: (July 22-August 3): Dispatch Runner Gefreiter Adolf Hitler serves at the front with 3 Company, 16 Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment during Phase 2 operations in Flanders. Most of their time in the trenches gas masks are worn, while English bombers and tanks—a new terror witnessed for the very first time by most—attempt to advance over a long front through seas of mud. [For further details, Click here.]

1918 World War I (July 20-August 4):Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16th RIR continues building a new line of defenses on the site of the failed Second Battle of the Marne. [For further details, Click here.]

1925 Volkishness: Johann Walthari Woelfl, the ONT Prior of Wefenstein, begins issuing the Librarium and the Examinatorium. The first contains short stories of the alleged medieval antecedents of the order, Burg Werfenstein and Lebensreform. The second features a question-and-answer synopsis of all order matters, enabling new brothers to quickly and comprehensively learn the order's history, traditions, and ceremonial. (THP)

Construction begins on a new ONT priory at Gross-Oesingen in Lower Saxony. (THP)

1933 Various:

Hungary: The government suppresses publication of Nemzet Szava (the Nation's Voice), the official organ of Hungarian Nazis.

Antisemitism: Greece: The Venizelist press begins an anti-Jewish campaign.

1937 Palestine: The League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission discusses the Peel Commission's plan for partitioning Palestine:

The violence of the Arab Revolt starting in 1936 led Britain to set up a new Royal Commission (the Peel Commission) in to examine the conflict between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. A long term solution was needed for the political future of Palestine. The Jewish Homeland contemplated by the Mandate could develop as an independent state, a part of a federal state or within a bi-national territorial state. And what should be done with the Arabs, still the majority of the population? Should they be given control over the territory given their absolute denial of any national rights whatsoever to the Jews, a clear conflict with the fundamental basis of the Mandate.

1938 Westwall: Germany begins preparations for building new fortifications on its western border. A number of prohibited areas are established.

1939 Elections are held for the Twenty-first Zionist Congress to be held in Geneva.

1940 World War II: A bombing lull ends the first phase of the Battle of Britain.

[See: Why Did Hitler Lose The Battle of Britain?]

1941 World War II: Various:

Harry Hopkins arrives in Moscow for meetings with the Communist leadership:

Harry Hopkins, FDR's trusted aide, then in London, decided that he ought to proceed to Moscow to find out more about the Soviets' prospects and needs. The President promptly authorized Hopkins to proceed to Moscow, where at the end of July he had two long meetings with Stalin. During these meetings Stalin told Hopkins that he would welcome American troops on any part of the Russian front, and under the command of the American Army — an extraordinary comment, reflecting the Soviet dictator's conviction that it was going to be extremely difficult for the USSR to resist successfully the mighty German military machine.

Hopkins came away from these talks convinced that the Soviets would fight on with, as he reported to FDR on August 1, an "unbounded determination to win." His visit marked, as one distinguished American historian subsequently concluded, the point of no return in US-Soviet wartime relations.

Poland: The Polish Government-in-Exile and Stalin sign an agreement for mutual aid in the war against Hitler, which includes an "amnesty for Polish citizens deprived of freedom on Soviet territory" and the formation of a Polish army under General Wladyslaw Anders, released from a Moscow prison.

Church and Reich: Hitler orders Martin Bormann to stop all seizures of monasteries or other Church property without first obtaining his personal permission. Bormann passes the order along to the Gauleiters the following day.

Hitler (attributed):

Judaism, Christianity, Bolshevism are all bound together. Comrades in agitation, born tools of decay, they possess the same talent to destroy the natural structure of society. Bolshevism is the historical and logical continuation of Christianity. It realizes on a technical level what Christianity has done on a metaphysical level. Should one reproach the Jew and the Christian with his destroying influence? Both of these are following their nature, their law when they destroy. One does not reproach a cat with the fact that it eats mice. Paul of Tarsus and Trotsky are brothers. Perhaps it is necessary to accord them the effect of certain bacilli, to be the protozoa in the lazy masses of the people. In any case, like the bacillus, they produce a reaction.

[See: Was Adolf Hitler a Christian?]

1942 World War II: Various:

Barbarossa: Start of a Soviet counter-offensive at Rzhev leading to the temporary encirclement of six German divisions which are supplied by massive air drops of the Luftwaffe. Armeegruppe A consolidates its bridgehead over the Manych River, while Armeegruppe B struggles to reduce the Soviet bridgehead at Kalach in the Don Estuary west of Stalingrad.

US Army Air Force joins in operations against Germany: B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators concentrate on high altitude daylight bombing, while the RAF strikes at night

In 1938 over 22 million Germans lived in 58 towns of over 100,000 inhabitants. If even half our bombs were dropped on...these 58 towns the great majority of these inhabitants (about one third of the German population) would be turned out of house and home. Investigation seems to show that having one's home demolished is most damaging to morale...there seems little doubt that this would break the spirit of the people.

The WAVES are created by legislation signed by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The members of the Women's Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service are a part of the US Navy.

Holocaust: Himmler assigns Paul Blobel, a former commander of one of his mobile killer groups (Einsatzgruppen) to find the most efficient means of destroying the evidence of Nazi atrocities. Working at Chelmno (Kulmhof) under the code name Sonderaktion 1005 (Special Command 1005), Blobel and a small staff began exhuming victims of the mobile gassing vans. They finally decide upon cremations over huge fireplaces. Any remaining bones are ground up in a special bone-crushing machine. The ashes and bone fragments are buried in the same pits from which the bodies had been disinterred. (THP)

Holocaust: Harold H. Tittmann, the assistant to Myron C. Taylor, Roosevelt's personal representative at the Holy See points out to the Vatican that its silence is "endangering its moral prestige and is undermining faith both in the Church and in the Holy Father himself." (THP)

1943 World War II: Various:

Hitler gets news of Italy's imminent defection:

Hitler had feared that such a turn of events was possible, if not probable. Hitler had come to Italy on July 19 to lecture Il Duce on his failed military leadership-evidence that he knew, even if he was not admitting, that both Mussolini and Italy were about to collapse, leaving the Italian peninsula open to Allied occupation. Despite a half-hearted reassurance from Mussolini that Italy would continue to battle on, Hitler nevertheless began preparing for the prospect of Italy's surrender to the Allies.

When Mussolini was ousted from power and arrested by his own police six days later. Hitler gathered Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, Rommel, and the commander in chief of the German navy, Karl Doenitz, at his headquarters to reveal the plans of action he had already been formulating. Among them: (1) Operation Oak, in which Mussolini would be rescued from captivity; (2) the occupation of Rome by German forces and the reinstallation of Mussolini and his fascist government; (3) Operation Black, the German occupation of all Italy; and (4) Operation Axis, the destruction of the Italian fleet (in order to prevent it from being commandeered for Allied use).

Hitler's advisers urged caution, especially since it would require recalling troops from the Eastern front. The Allies had not made a move on Rome yet, and although Mussolini was under arrest, the Italian government had not formally surrendered. Germany had received assurances from Mussolini's successor, General Badoglio, that Italy would continue to fight at Germany's side. Then on July 30, Hitler read a message from his security police chief in Zagreb that an Italian general had confided to a Croat general that Italy's assurances of loyalty to Germany were "designed merely to gain time for the conclusion of negotiations with the enemy." (History.com)

Russian front: Armeegruppe A losses the initiative in its attack to secure its positions along the Mius River.

1944 World War II: Various:

The US 4th Armored Division seizes Avranches:

Coutances was taken and American armored divisions rushed southward. The Germans attempted to reconstitute a new front, but there was a lack of troops, and the defence lines were driven from the field by the Americans. In the meantime the 2nd and 3rd Armoured Divisions trapped 7,000 German soldiers in a pocket in Roncey. 2,500 men will manage to withdraw westward until the evening of 29 July. The next day, the Combat Command B of the 4th Armoured Division was in front of Avranches. The American tanks entered the city.

1944 World War II: An order issued by Keitel:

Subject: Treatment of members of foreign 'Military Missions' captured together with partisans. In the areas of the High Command Southeast and Southwest, members of foreign so-called 'Military Missions' (Anglo-American as well as Soviet-Russian) captured in the course of the struggle against partisans shall not receive the treatment as specified in the special orders regarding the treatment of captured partisans. Therefore they are not to be treated as prisoners of war but in conformity with the Fuehrer's order concerning the annihilation of terror and sabotage troops of 18 October 1942. This order shall not be transmitted to units subordinate to the corps commands and the equivalent staffs of the other branches of the Armed Forces, and is to be destroyed after being made known. The Chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht, Keitel.

1945 Various:

World War II: The crew of the USS Indianapolis—torpedoed the day before by a Japanese submarine—are picked off one by one by sharks and the elements. The Navy remains unaware of the catastrophe. The ship had just delivered key components of the Hiroshima atomic bomb to the Pacific Island of Tinian. Only 316 out of 1,196 men aboard eventually survive the attack.

American Action: A meeting of American nationalists and anti-Semites in Chicago leads to the formation and establishment of American Action, Inc.

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: The Prosecution completes its summation in the Major War Criminals Trial:

Now, the hour of reckoning has come. For the past 9 months, we have been observing the former rulers of fascist Germany. In the dock before this Court they have suddenly become meek and humble. Some of them even actually condemned Hitler. But they do not blame Hitler for waging a war or for the exterminating of peoples and plundering of states; the only thing they; cannot forgive him is defeat. Together with Hitler, they were ready to exterminate millions of human beings, to enslave civilized mankind in order to achieve their criminal aim of world domination.

But history decided otherwise. Victory did not follow upon the steps of crime. Victory came to the freedom-loving nations. Truth triumphed and we are proud to say that justice meted out by the International Military Tribunal will be the justice of the righteous cause of peace-loving nations.

The Defense spoke about humanity. We know that the concepts of civilization and humanity, democracy and humanity, peace and humanity are inseparable. But we, the champions of civilization, democracy, and peace we positively reject that form of humanity which is considerate to the murderers and indifferent to their victims. Counsel for Kaltenbrunner also spoke here of love for mankind. In connection with Kaltenbrunner's name and actions all mention of love for mankind sounds blasphemy.

Your Lordship, Your Honors, my statement concludes the case for the Prosecution. Speaking here on behalf of the peoples of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, I consider all the charges against the defendants as fully proven. And in the name of the sincere love of mankind which inspires the peoples who made the supreme memory of the millions of innocent human beings slaughtered by a gang of murders who are now before the court of civilized mankind, in the name of the happiness and the peaceful labor of future generations, I appeal to the Tribunal to sentence all the defendants without exception to the supreme penalty-death. Such a verdict will be greeted with satisfaction by all progressive mankind.

Upon completion of the Prosecutions summations, the defense of the seven indicted Nazi organizations begins, the full details of which can be found at the link below.

[For the full text of today's proceedings, Click here.]

1955 Space race: Sergey Korolyov's group has been following the Western press (See:July 29, 1955), and believes it is possible to beat the US to the punch. With Korolyov's urging, the USSR's Soviet Academy of Sciences announces on this day that it, too, intends to launch an artificial satellite. (Harford, Piszkiewicz)

[See: Wunderwaffen: Hitler's Deception and the History of Rocketry.]

1956 President Eisenhower signs "In God We Trust" into law:

On this day in 1956, two years after pushing to have the phrase "under God" inserted into the pledge of allegiance, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a law officially declaring "In God We Trust" to be the nation's official motto. The law, P.L. 84-140, also mandated that the phrase be printed on all American paper currency. The phrase had been placed on U.S. coins since the Civil War when, according to the historical association of the United States Treasury, religious sentiment reached a peak. Eisenhower's treasury secretary, George Humphrey, had suggested adding the phrase to paper currency as well.

Although some historical accounts claim Eisenhower was raised a Jehovah's Witness, most presidential scholars now believe his family was Mennonite. Either way, Eisenhower abandoned his family's religion before entering the Army, and took the unusual step of being baptized relatively late in his adult life as a Presbyterian. The baptism took place in 1953, barely a year into his first term as president.

Although Eisenhower embraced religion, biographers insist he never intended to force his beliefs on anyone. In fact, the chapel-like structure near where he and his wife Mamie are buried on the grounds of his presidential library is called the "Place of Meditation" and is intentionally inter-denominational. At a Flag Day speech in 1954, he elaborated on his feelings about the place of religion in public life when he discussed why he had wanted to include "under God" in the pledge of allegiance: "In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource in peace and war."

The first paper money with the phrase "In God We Trust" was not printed until 1957. Since then, religious and secular groups have argued over the appropriateness and constitutionality of a motto that mentions "God," considering the founding fathers dedication to maintaining the separation of church and state. (History.com)

1969 Wunderwaffen: President Nixon's assistant for domestic affairs, John Ehrlichman, in preparation for a planned celebration of the Apollo 11 astronauts, had written a letter to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover requesting that he do a security check on Werner von Braun, Hitler's former chief rocket scientist who is now working for the US. In a response received this day, Hoover writes back:

Although these [prior] investigations were generally favorable and indicated that Dr. von Braun was anticommunist, information was developed that he received an honorary SS Commission as a Lieutenant and had been a member of the National Socialist Party (Nazi) in 1939.

2003 Last classic VW Beetle rolls off the line:

[The] last of 21,529,464 Volkswagen Beetles built since World War II rolls off the production line at Volkswagen's plant in Puebla, Mexico. One of a 3,000-unit final edition, the baby-blue vehicle was sent to a museum in Wolfsburg, Germany, where Volkswagen is headquartered.

The car produced in Puebla that day was the last so-called "classic" VW Beetle, which is not to be confused with the redesigned new Beetle that Volkswagen introduced in 1998. (The new Beetle resembles the classic version but is based on the VW Golf.) The roots of the classic Beetle stretch back to the mid-1930s, when the famed Austrian automotive engineer Dr. Ferdinand Porsche met German leader Adolf Hitler's request for a small, affordable passenger car to satisfy the transportation needs of the German people Hitler called the result the KdF (Kraft-durch-Freude)-Wagen (or "Strength-Through-Joy" car) after a Nazi-led movement ostensibly aimed at helping the working people of Germany; it would later be known by the name Porsche preferred: Volkswagen, or "people's car."

The first production-ready KdF-Wagen debuted at the Berlin Motor Show in 1939; the international press soon dubbed it the "Beetle" for its distinctive rounded shape. During World War II, the factory in KdF-stat (later renamed Wolfsburg) continued to make Beetles, though it was largely dedicated to production of war vehicles. Production was halted under threat of Allied bombing in August 1944 and did not resume until after the war, under British control. Though VW sales were initially slower in the United States compared with the rest of the world, by 1960 the Beetle was the top-selling import in America, thanks to an iconic ad campaign by the firm Doyle Dane Bernbach. In 1972, the Beetle surpassed the longstanding worldwide production record of 15 million vehicles, set by Ford Motor Company's legendary Model T between 1908 and 1927. It also became a worldwide cultural icon, featuring prominently in the hit 1969 movie "The Love Bug" (which starred a Beetle named Herbie) and on the cover of the Beatles album "Abbey Road."

In 1977, however, the Beetle, with its rear-mounted, air-cooled-engine, was banned in America for failing to meet safety and emission standards. Worldwide sales of the car shrank by the late 1970s and by 1988, the classic Beetle was sold only in Mexico. Due to increased competition from other manufacturers of inexpensive compact cars, and a Mexican decision to phase out two-door taxis, Volkswagen decided to discontinue production of the classic bug in 2003. The final count of 21,529,464, incidentally, did not include the original 600 cars built by the Nazis prior to World War II. (History.com)

[See: The Secret History of the Volkswagen.]

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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