Aug 20

1909 Vienna days: Starving artist Adolf Hitler moves into a flat on Vienna's Sechshauserstrasse, #58. He will stay there until September 16, 1909. (Maser)

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Hitler: St. Peter’s Church, Vienna

It is not a coincidence that three of the people destined to be world leaders were all artists to some degree or another. Traditional psychology asserts one of the three areas that define intelligence is visiospatial analysis; the ability to render what you see into another medium. Winston S. Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Adolf Hitler all left behind substantial numbers of their original artwork, in essence, a portion of their genius. In the cases of Churchill and Eisenhower, both survived long enough to be able to validate and authenticate their art, usually by means of a letter, or seeing their art presented to the public in published volumes dedicated to their work. In the case of Adolf Hitler, the only authentication is by third parties. Hitler himself went through the effort to have many of his original pieces of art found, with the intention of displaying them in a wing of the Fuehrermuseum in his adopted hometown of Linz on the Danube in Austria. As events would have it, his preoccupation with taking over the world interfered with his reacquisition of his early art

[For further details, Click here.]

1914 World War I: Various:

Belgium: The Belgians, personally commanded by King Albert I, retreat to Antwerp. Brussels is occupied by the Germans.

It was as though a wand had waved and from a fete-day on the Continent we had been wafted to London on a rainy Sunday. The boulevards fell suddenly empty. There was not a house that was not closely shuttered. Along the route by which we now knew the Germans were advancing, it was as though the plague stalked. That no one should fire from a window, that to the conquerors no one should offer insult, Burgomaster Max sent out as special constables men he trusted. Their badge of authority was a walking-stick and a piece of paper fluttering from a buttonhole. These, the police, and the servants and caretakers of the houses that lined the boulevards alone were visible.

At eleven o'clock, unobserved but by this official audience, down the Boulevard Waterloo came the advance-guard of the German army. It consisted of three men, a captain and two privates on bicycles. Their rifles were slung across their shoulders, they rode unwarily, with as little concern as the members of a touring-club out for a holiday. Behind them so close upon each other that to cross from one sidewalk to the other was not possible, came the Uhlans [cavalry], infantry, and the guns. For two hours I watched them, and then, bored with the monotony of it, returned to the hotel. After an hour, from beneath my window, I still could hear them; another hour and another went by. They still were passing.

Rudolf Hess joins the 1st Bavarian Infantry Regiment and is soon transported to the battlefields of France. (THP)

Russian Front: At Gumbinnen in East Prussia, Prittwitz's forces are thrown back by Rennenkampf, who has attacked from the east. Prittwitz, fearing envelopment by Samsonov's army, withdraws to the Vistula River, thus ceding all of East Prussia. Prittwitz phones Moltke at Coblenz, reporting his decision and requesting reinforcements to hold the Vistula line. Moltke immediately relieves Prittwitz, appointing in his place 67-year-old General Paul von Hindenburg who had retired in 1911. General Erich Ludendorff, the hero of Liege, is named Hindenburg's chief of staff.

Britain: By an Order in Council, Britain enlarges the list of goods it unilaterally considers contraband and thereby subject to search and seizure. British ships immediately begin confiscating the contraband cargoes, which include even cotton, now used in making munitions. (THP)

1915 World War I: 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.]

1916 World War I: 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.]

1917 World War I: List Regiment (July 22-September 8): 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 attack from the air, 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.]

Hitler and his fellow dispatch runners

1918 World War I (July 20-August 21): Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16th RIR is tasked with building a new line of defenses on the site of the failed Second Battle of the Marne. [For further details, Click here.]

1920 Poland and Ukraine sign an alliance against the Soviet Union. On November 1918 Germany had installed Jozef Pilsudski as Polish head of state and surrendered control of Poland to him. Polish independence was recognised at Versailles in 1919. However, fighting continued in the east and Polish forces seized parts of Lithuania, Byelorussia and Ukraine from Russia during 1919 and early 1920. A Soviet offensive came close to capturing Warsaw, but in August 1920 Poland was saved by a Polish counteroffensive aided by France and Britain. A peace treaty was then agreed, defining the eastern frontier. In the west, Danzig (Gdansk) had been made a free city and a 'polish corridor' now separated East Prussia from the rest of Germany.

1923 The first American dirigible, the 'Shenandoah,' is launched in Lakehurst, NJ:

America had four zeppelins of its own in the 1920's and 1930's. One, the Los Angeles, was built by the Germans, flew successfully for a decade, and retired with dignity. The other three: the Shenandoah, Akron, and Macon were built by Americans, and each crashed less than two years after its first flight.

1932 German artist unveils monument honoring soldiers killed in World War I:

On this day in 1932, in Flanders, Belgium, the German artist Kathe Kollwitz unveils the monument she created to memorialize her son, Peter, along with the hundreds of thousands of other soldiers killed on the battlefields of the Western Front during World War I. . . .

Kollwitz continued her support of German and international socialism in the post-war years, and was eventually punished for her outspoken political beliefs. She became the first woman elected to the Prussian Academy of Arts but was forced to resign after Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist (Nazi) Party rose to power in 1933. Three years later the Nazis classified Kollwitz’s art—like that of so many others during that period—as "degenerate," and barred her from exhibiting her work. Kollwitz’s husband Karl died in 1940; in 1942, her grandson, also named Peter, was killed at the Russian front during World War II. Her own home, and much of her work, was destroyed by Allied bombs the following year, and Kollwitz was evacuated from Berlin to Moritzburg, near Dresden.

"In days to come people will hardly understand this age," Kollwitz wrote during her time in Moritzburg. "What a difference between now and 1914;. . . . People have been transformed so that they have this capacity for endurance. . . . Worst of all is that every war already carries within the war which will answer it. Every war is answered by a new war, until everything, everything is smashed." She died on April 22, 1945, just two weeks before World War II ended. As she wrote in her final letter: "War accompanies me to the end." [For further information, click here]

1933 The American Jewish Congress joins the anti-Nazi Boycott:

The time for prudence and caution is past. We must speak up like men. How can we ask our Christian friends to lift their voices in protest against the wrongs suffered by Jews if we keep silent? What is happening in Germany today may happen tomorrow in any other land on earth unless it is challenged and rebuked. It is not the German Jews who are being attacked. It is the Jews. (Rabbi Stephen Weiss)

1935 Various:

Church and Reich: The Catholic bishops send a lengthy memorandum to Hitler complaining that because of the support and publicity given by the party to Alfred Rosenberg's books, the public could only conclude that neo-paganism and National Socialism are identical. (THP)

Zionism: The Nineteenth World Zionist Congress opens in Lucerne, Switzerland. It will close on September 14.

Comintern: The Seventh World Congress of the Communist International (Comintern) calls for a popular front to combat Fascism and support the struggles and wars of national liberation around the world.

1939 Various:

Hitler and Stalin: Hitler, suspecting Molotov might cause delays in ratification of the non-aggression pact, sends a personal message to Stalin:

Herr Stalin, Moscow. 1) I sincerely welcome the signing of the new German-Soviet Commercial Agreement as the first step in the reordering of German-Soviet relations.

2) The conclusion of a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union means to me the establishment of a long-range German policy. Germany thereby resumes a political course that was beneficial to both states during by-gone centuries. The Government of the Reich is therefore resolved in such case to act entirely consistent with such a far-reaching change.

3) I accept the draft of the non-aggression pact that your Foreign Minister, Herr Molotov, delivered but consider it urgently necessary to clarify the questions connected with it as soon as possible.

4) The supplementary protocol desired by the Government of the Soviet Union can, I am convinced, be substantially clarified in the shortest possible time if a responsible German statesman can come to Moscow himself to negotiate. Otherwise the Government of the Reich is not clear as to how the supplementary protocol could be cleared up and settled in a short time.

5) The tension between Germany and Poland has become intolerable. Polish demeanor toward a great power is such that a crisis may arise any day. Germany is determined, at any rate, in the face of this presumption, from now on to look after the interests of the Reich with all the means at its disposal.

6) In my opinion, it is desirable, in view of the intentions of the two states to enter into a new relation to each other, not to lose any time. I therefore again propose that you receive my Foreign Minister on Tuesday, August 22, but at the latest on Wednesday, August 23. The Reich Foreign Minister has full powers to draw up and sign the non-aggression pact as well as the protocol. A longer stay by the Reich Foreign Minister in Moscow than one to two days at most is impossible in view of the international situation. I should be glad to receive your early answer. Adolf Hitler.

[See: Worst Dictator of Modern Times: Hitler or Stalin?]

Border Conflict: The Soviet Union scores a major victory over Japan in the border conflict along the Outer Mongolia-Manchukuo frontier and Japan sues for peace. By the end of the campaign Soviet losses will be 10,000 killed and wounded. Japanese losses: 52,000 to 55,000 killed and wounded. Note: This little-noticed conflict is a decisive struggle that will determine no less than the direction of Japanese expansionism, and have incalculable effects on the coming conflagration.

Zhukov decided it was time to break the stalemate. He deployed approximately 50,000 Soviet and Mongolian troops of the 57th Special Corps to defend the east bank of the Khalkhyn Gol, then crossed the river on 20 August to attack the elite Japanese forces with three infantry divisions, massed artillery, a tank brigade, and the best planes of the Soviet Air Force. Once the Japanese were pinned down by the advance of the Soviet center units, the armoured units swept around the flanks and attacked the Japanese in the rear, cutting lines of communication, overcoming desperate Japanese counterattacks (one Japanese officer drew his sword and led an attack on foot against Soviet tanks), and achieving a classic double envelopment.

Countdown to World War II: German U-boats take up positions in the North Atlantic shipping lanes.

The Battle of the Atlantic was not about the most powerful navy; neither was it about glorious battles fought between battleships and submarines. But the Battle of the Atlantic was a commerce war waged by German U-Boats against Britain's merchant marine. For nearly six years, Germany launched over 1,000 U-Boats into combat, in an attempt to isolate and blockade the British Isles, thereby forcing the British out of the war. It was a fight which nearly choked the shipping lanes of Great Britain, cutting off vital supplies of food, fuel and raw materials needed to continue fighting.

[See: Was Adolf Hitler a 'Great' Military Leader?]

1940 World War II: Churchill speaks to the House of Commons:

Almost a year has passed since the war began, and it is natural for us, I think, to pause on our journey at this milestone and survey the dark, wide field. It is also useful to compare the first year of this second war against German aggression with its forerunner a quarter of a century ago. Although this war is in fact only a continuation of the last, very great differences in its character are apparent. In the last war millions of men fought by hurling enormous masses of steel at one another. "Men and shells" was the cry, and prodigious slaughter was the consequence. In this war nothing of this kind has yet appeared. It is a conflict of strategy, of organisation, of technical apparatus, of science, mechanics, and morale. The British casualties in the first 12 months of the Great War amounted to 365,000. In this war, I am thankful to say, British killed, wounded, prisoners, and missing, including civilians, do not exceed 92,000, and of these a large proportion are alive as prisoners of war . . . . 

The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

Trotsky assassinated in Mexico: Exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky is fatally wounded by an ice-ax-wielding assassin at his compound outside Mexico City. The killer—Ramón Mercader—was a Spanish communist and probable agent of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Trotsky died from his wounds the next day. [For further details, Click here.]

Holocaust: Sugehara—Vice Consul for the Japanese Empire in Lithuania—begins issuing transit visas to Polish and Lithuanian Jews, enabling them to cross the Trans-Siberian railway to Japan. Sugihara wrote travel visas that facilitated the escape of more than 6,000 Jewish refugees to Japanese territory, risking his career and his family's life. While Sugihara was honored by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations, it is the beginning of a long adventure for the many Jews who will end up in Shanghai. (THP)

1941 World War II: Various:

Barbarossa: 11 Armee of Heeresgruppe Sued captures Cherson on the Black Sea, gate to the Crimea.

Crimea was a scene of some of the bloodiest battles. The leaders of the Third Reich were anxious to conquer and colonize the fertile and beautiful peninsula as part of their policy of resettling the Germans in Eastern Europe at the expense of the Slavs. The Germans suffered heavy casualties in the summer of 1941 as they tried to advance through the narrow Isthmus of Perekop linking Crimea to the Ukrainian mainland. Once the German army broke through, they occupied most of Crimea, with the exception of the city of Sevastopol, which was later awarded the honorary title of Hero City.

Adolf Hitler authorizes the development of the V-2 missile:

And the fertile German imagination ranged quite a bit beyond the vengeance weapons as rocketry made the transition from theory to well-established fact. Even as the engineers and technicians were working on the V-2 at Peenemunde in the early 1940's, a Stuttgart professor named Eugene Saenger laid out plans for a giant winged rocket plane, called an antipodal bomber, that would be able to skip along the top of the atmosphere like a flat stone on water and reach all the way to North America with ten tons of bombs. Plans called for the craft to be launched on a highly lubricated rail, its engine generating a fantastic 1.2 millions pounds of thrust, and then carry its weapons load to New York, Washington, and Pittsburgh. (Exploring Space by William E. Burrows)

Holocaust: Various:

In Berlin, Reinhard Heydrich receives a report from Einsatzgruppen RSHA IV-A-1 (Operational Report USSR no. 58) detailing the extermination of 4,500 Jews in Pinsk in retaliation for the death of a local militiaman. (THP)

The entire Banat region of Yugoslavia is declared Judenrein, 'purged of Jews.' (THP)

1943 Holocaust: Approximately 3,000 Jews at Glebokie resist being taken out to the woods, and are massacred in a single day. A few escape and start a small partisan group.

1944 World War II: Various:

Churchill and FDR to Stalin:

We are thinking of world opinion if the anti-Nazis in Warsaw are in effect abandoned. We believe that all three of us should do the utmost to save as many of the patriots there as possible. We hope that you will drop immediate supplies and munitions to the patriot Poles in Warsaw, or will you agree to help our planes in doing it quickly? We hope you will approve. The time element is of extreme importance.

US 79th Division reaches the west bank of the Seine above Paris:

Unknown to many, is the saga of the Seine River bridgehead in August 1944, as very little of this time period was written about in any of the 30th Division Histories. It was during the time of the "rat-race" and little time was taken up in writing about the events of these days. Basically, the 79th Infantry Division made the initial crossing of the Seine River at Mantes-Gassicourt on 20 August, and they established a small bridgehead on the east bank of the River. Then, the 30th Infantry Division made their uneventful crossing and started the expansion and exploitation of the area, while rapidly pursuing the German Army in what was commonly known as the rat race.

British launch Operation Wallace:

On this day in 1944, 60 British soldiers, commanded by Major Roy Farran, fight their way east from Rennes toward Orleans, through German-occupied forest, forcing the Germans to retreat and aiding the French Resistance in its struggle for liberation. Code-named Operation Wallace, this push east was just another nail in the coffin of German supremacy in France.

The Germans had already lost their position in Normandy, and had retreated from southern France. Most of the German troops in the west were trapped-and were either being killed or taken prisoner—in what was called "the Falaise Pocket," a site around the eastern town of Falaise, which was encircled by the Allies. The Allies were also landing tens of thousands of men and vehicles in France, and the French Resistance was becoming more brazen every day. On the 19th, the French police force announced its loyalty to the Resistance cause by seizing the Prefecture de Police in Paris, raising the French national flag, and singing the Marseillaise, the French national anthem. [For further details, Click here.]

American B-17 bombers make a raid near Auschwitz during the first of four attacks on IG Farben's plant at Monowitz, only a few miles east of the gas chambers. (THP)

The Battle of Romania begins with a major Soviet offensive.

1945 USA: The US War Production Board removes most of its controls on manufacturing activity. The US quickly coverts to a peacetime economy.

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:

Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: I want you—again, I want you to apply your mind to this. You and Himmler were still on good terms in 1942, weren't you?

Goering: Until the end, Himmler always adopted a very polite attitude towards me, as befitted him.

Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe: You were more than that. Within a few days of this letter you sent him an attache-case of crocodile leather, a box of cigars, and a notebook for Christmas. This means that you were on good terms with Himmler at this time. Do you mean to say that you never heard, that Himmler never said to you, that Milch never told you, that your medical officer never said to you, that these experiments were being carried on and were causing protest in Christian medical circles? Did everyone conspire, Defendant, to keep you in ignorance of every matter that might be embarrassing to you? Now, is that the answer?

Goering: The experiments and knowledge of them have nothing to do with the crocodile attache-case and the notebook. These were Christmas presents in return for a present which Himmler always gave me for Christmas on behalf of the SS, and I always wanted to respond to this gesture. Secondly, no attempts were made to hide anything from me intentionally, but the various spheres, of activity were divided; there were important matters, very important matters, and routine matters which were treated by certain departments. The Medical Inspectorate was one of them. It was impossible to bring everything to my knowledge. Apart from that, I wish to emphasize again that I never heard of a public protest by Christian circles or doctors in Germany against such experiments during the war; such a protest would not, in fact, have been possible.

1947 The American Douglas Skystreak single-engine turbojet-powered research aircraft piloted by Commander Turner Caldwell, USN, sets a new world speed record (See: October 2, 1941) of 641 miles per hour (1,032 km/h). The Skystreaks are powered by one General Electric engine and carry 230 gallons of aviation fuel (kerosene).

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

1947 Doctors Trial: After almost 140 days of proceedings, including the testimony of 85 witnesses and the submission of almost 1,500 documents, the American judges in the "Doctor's Trial" in Nuremberg pronounce their verdict. Sixteen of the doctors are found guilty. Seven are sentenced to death. (See June 2, 1948) Note: Defendants Paul Rostock, Kurt Blome, Siegfried Ruff, Hans Wolfgang Romberg, Georg August Weltz, Konrad Schaefer, and Adolf Pokorny are judged not guilty of the charges listed in the indictment. (THP)

1952 The first Redstone ballistic missile is successfully tested at Cape Canaveral. It is often described as a second generation V-2, incorporating many innovative features, including all-aluminum construction, and a completely internal guidance system. A 600-man Field Artillery Missile Group is required, in order to operate it. (Piszkiewicz)

1968 Soviet Union intervenes in Czechoslovakia: In the face of rising anti-Soviet protests in Czechoslovakia, Soviet troops (backed by troops from other Warsaw Pact nations) intervene to crush the protest and restore order. The brutal Soviet action shocked the West and dealt a devastating blow to U.S.-Soviet relations. [For further details, Click here.]

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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