January 11

1842 (Exact Date Unknown) Johann Georg Hiedler: The older brother of Johann Nepomuk Huettler, a 50-year-old "wandering miller," originally from Spital, and variously described as "shiftless"18 and "no good lazy," marries Maria Anna Schicklgruber. Though much older than Hiedler, she is quite prosperous and in attractively poor health. The couple will never actually live together and, despite usual custom, for reasons never made clear, her husband does not legitimize her child, Alois (Adolf Hitler's father), then 5 years old. [For further details, Click here. Also, See: Was Adolf Hitler Jewish?]

1904 South West Africa (now Namibia): The Herero people begin an uprising against their German colonial masters. [For further details, Click here.]

1911 The Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft (KWG, Kaiser Wilhelm Society) is founded. Its purpose is to promote the sciences in Germany, specifically by founding and maintaining research institutions independent from the state.

The Max Planck Society  . . . . was established in 1911 as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, or Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft (KWG), a non-governmental research organisation named for the then German emperor. The KWG was one of the world's leading research organisations; its board of directors included scientists like Walther Bothe, Peter Debye, Albert Einstein, Fritz Haber, and Werner Heisenberg. In 1946, Otto Hahn assumed the position of President of KWG, and in 1948, the society was renamed the Max Planck Society (MPG) after its former President (1930-37) Max Planck, who was recently deceased.

1914 Volkishness: A Germanenorden initiation ceremony held in the Berlin Province features racial tests by Berlin phrenologist Robert Burger-Villingren, inventor of the "plastometer," a device used for determining the relative "Aryan purity" of a subject by measurement of the skull. [Note: In modern usage, a plastometer is a tool used to determine the flow properties of plastic materials] (THP)

1916 World War I: Various:

General Yudenich, one of the most capable Russian commanders, advances from Kars toward Erzerum in the Caucasus.

French forces occupy Corfu:

To provide a safe and stable haven for the growing number of refugees pouring out of the devastated Balkan state of Serbia, French forces take formal military control of the Greek island of Corfu . . . . 

The northernmost of a string of islands in the Ionian Sea, Corfu was a British protectorate in the 18th century before passing into the possession of Greece in 1864. Over the course of 1915, as German and Austro-Hungarian forces battered Serbia—whose ambitions of self-determination had ostensibly sparked the entire Great War with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914—thousands of the country's soldiers and civilians alike fled into the mountains of Albania. Near the end of 1915, in a massive rescue operation involving more than 1,000 trips made by Italian, French and British steamers, 260,000 Serb soldiers were transported to Corfu, where they waited for the chance to reclaim their country.

Corfu became the seat of the Serbian government-in-exile as well as an important base for supplying relief to the front in Salonika, on mainland Greece. In mid-April 1916, the first of 125,000 Serbian troops, escorted by French and British warships, traveled from Corfu to Salonika, where they would relieve a much smaller army and fight alongside their French and British allies.

1917 World War I: Britain: An appeal is launched in Britain for subscriptions to the new War Loan to help pay the cost of the war, which is running at GBP 5.7m a day.

1920 Rocketry: The Smithsonian Institution announces that Professor Robert H. Goddard of Clark College has invented and tested a new type of multiple-charge, high-efficiency rocket of entirely new design which opens up "the possibility of sending recording apparatus to moderate and extreme altitudes within the earth's atmosphere . . . the new rocket apparatus would go straight up and come straight down." The announcement goes a step further, however, and proposes to send "to the dark part of the new moon a sufficiently large amount of the most brilliant flash powder which, in being ignited on impact, would be plainly visible in a powerful telescope. This would be the only way of proving that the rocket had really left the attraction of the earth as the apparatus would never come back." [See: Wunderwaffen: Hitler's Deception and the History of Rocketry.]

1923 Weimar: Occupation of the Ruhr:

In 1923 German government was unable to pay the reparations required under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The French and Belgian governments responded by sending in troops to the Ruhr, the main centre of Germany's coal, iron and steel production.

The German people were outraged and Fritz Thyssen and other industrialists who had investments in the Ruhr, organized a passive resistance campaign. The French responded by bringing in their own workers to operate the mines and began arresting leaders of the resistance movement.

The occupation of the Ruhr led to a collapse of the German economy. There was massive inflation and large increase in unemployment. Germany was now unable to pay any reparations . . . . 

On the evening of the occupation, Hitler speaks at the Circus Crone on the subject, 'Down With The November Criminals.' He declares, "The German rebirth is only possible when the criminals are faced with their responsibility and delivered to their just fate." In other words, the enemy is not the Belgian and French troops occupying German soil, but the enemy within; therefore, Hitler is NOT in favor of resistance to the occupation. Hitler, much to the consternation of most of his followers, will take this line through most of the ensuing crises. It will ultimately prove a stroke of political brilliance.

1928 USSR: Joseph Stalin exiles Trotsky to Alma-Ata (now Almaty, Kazakhstan) where Trotsky will stay for a year before being banished entirely from the Soviet Union.

Trotsky was . . . removed from the Politburo and Zinoniev's post as the president of the Comintern was removed from him. Trotsky submitted an article that called all people to change the government, which was basically a clear act of treason. Trotsky and Zinoniev were expelled from the Central Committee and, when they held street demonstrations, they were completely expelled from the party. Stalin's actions should have, by right, united all his opposition. Instead, they were split up. Trotsky refused to accept the Congress decision and was exiled to Central Asia.

1933 Church and Reich: The Altonauer Confession:

A group of pastors in Altona, Hamburg in Germany signed a statement . . . . protesting against Hitler and his henchmen and were trying to make the German population aware of the wickedness that was going on. Six months previous to this, they had seen a group of German Communist workers placed against a wall and shot to death by a Nazi firing squad. The wall behind the unfortunate victims belonged to one of the Altona churches. This is what made the pastors realize that their country was being taken over by evil monsters. [See: Adolf Hitler: With God On His Side.]

1934 Church and Reich: The homes of dissident German clergymen are raided by the Gestapo.

1936 Holocaust: Romania: An attempt is made on the life of Chief Rabbi Jacob Isaac Niemirower. [For further details, Click here.]

1939 Holocaust: Danzig: the Senate orders 1,000 of the 4,000 Jews still in Danzig to leave by the end of the month.

1941 World War II: Battle of Bardia: Australian and British troops defeat Italian forces in Bardia, Libya, the first battle of the war in which an Australian Army formation takes part.

1942 World War II: Malaya: Kuala Lumpur falls to the Japanese.

1943 China: The United States and Britain sign treaties with China, renouncing their extra-territorial rights.

1944 Various:

Execution of Count Ciano:

Benito Mussolini has his son-in-law, the politician Galeazzo Ciano, shot for treason outside the gates of Verona along with four other fascists who had abandoned Mussolini. ("The night Grandpa had Daddy shot").

A glamorous playboy in public life, Ciano was the scion of a wealthy fascist founder. The [young man] wed Mussolini's eldest daughter in 1930 and quickly ascended the party's ranks, becoming Foreign Minister at the tender age of 33.

Ciano's treachery, and that of the others seated in chairs and shot from behind on this day, was to have voted with the majority of the Fascist Grand Council for deposing Mussolini as Allied attacks thrust Italy into a desperate position. This confused affair lacked the character of a coup d'etat, but Mussolini was indeed placed under arrest the next day and a separate peace concluded with the Allies in early September.

[Note: Ciano's death is a loss to historians because of the end of his diary, which contained much of interest, including his attitude to Hitler, Ribbentropp, and Goering. At one speech of Hitler's, whenever the Fuehrer paused for breath, Ciano leapt to his feet, vigorously giving the Nazi salute. His appraisal of Italy's position as the result of Barbarossa, and later, the declaration of war on the USA, was more intelligent than Mussolini's.]

Nazi enforcers terrorize German POWs in U.S. internment camps:

Franz Kettner, a private in the German army and a prisoner of war at Camp Concordia in Kansas, is killed by a Nazi kangaroo court. Internment camps for German prisoners of war were dominated by Nazi enforcers, who killed as many as 150 of their fellow prisoners during World War II. Only seven were officially considered murder. Kettner's wrists were slashed so that his death would be recorded as a suicide.

Even the smallest infraction could put German prisoners at risk. Those who talked to guards, spoke English, or refused to parrot the Nazi line were often beaten or killed. American camp officials generally looked the other way because they appreciated the discipline and order that the Nazis provided in the camps. Prisoners who were not ethnically German and had been conscripted into service were in particular danger from their fellow prisoners.

In the later part of 1943, a rash of murders were committed at camps all across America. When Corporal Johann Kunze was beaten to death in an Oklahoma camp for allegedly providing Americans with information, five Nazi sergeants were charged with his murder. They were hanged in 1945 and became the first foreign prisoners of war to meet that fate in the United States.

Eventually, American officials began separating the Nazis from the anti-Nazi Germans. Despite Nazi threats that those who opposed them would be in bad shape when the war was over, anti-Nazi prisoners were often put in positions of power by Americans when they were repatriated. The Nazis, on the other hand, were widely scorned after Hitler's defeat. (History.com)

1945 Various:

World War II: Ardennes: Units of the US Third Army join up with the British XXX Corps near St. Hubert further reducing the German salient. [See: The Last Days of the Third Reich.]

Eastern front: Red Army crosses the Vistula River in Poland on their way to invade Germany. [For further information, click here]

Truce signed in Greek Civil War:

[Fighting] in the civil war stops when a political truce is signed between the British-backed Democratic National Army and the communist rebel National Liberation Front . . . . The peace was short-lived, however, as civil war broke out again in the postwar environment and the tumultuous struggle for control over Greece continued.

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Day 32:

Continuation of the Case against Schacht.

Presentation of the Case against Funk.

Dr. Franz Blaha, a citizen of Czechoslovakia and former prisoner of Dachau, testifies for the Prosecution:

During my time at Dachau I was familiar with many kinds of medical experiments carried on there on human victims. These persons were never volunteers but were forced to submit to such acts. Malaria experiments on about 1,200 people were conducted by Dr. Klaus Schilling between 1941 and 1945. Schilling was personally ordered by Himmler to conduct these experiments. The victims were either bitten by mosquitoes or given injections of malaria sporozoites taken from mosquitoes. Different kinds of treatment were applied including quinine, pyrifer, neosalvarsan, antipyrin, pyramidon, and a drug called 2516 Behring. I performed autopsies on the bodies of people who died from these malaria experiments. Thirty to 40 died from the malaria itself. Three hundred to four hundred died later from diseases which were fatal because of the physical condition resulting from the malaria attacks. In addition there were deaths resulting from poisoning due to overdoses of neosalvarsan and pyramidon. Dr. Schilling was present at my autopsies on the bodies of his patients. [For the full text of Blaha's testimony, Click here.]

1946 Albania: Enver Hoxha, First Secretary of the Party of Labour of Albania, declares the People's Republic of Albania with himself as head of state. [For further information, click here.]

1989 Cold War: Reagan gives his farewell address:

After eight years as president of the United States, Ronald Reagan gives his farewell address to the American people. In his speech, President Reagan spoke with particular enthusiasm about the foreign policy achievements of his administration.

In his speech, Reagan declared that America "rediscovered" its commitment to world freedom in the 1980s. The United States was "respected again in the world and looked to for leadership." The key, according to the president, was a return to "common sense" that "told us that to preserve the peace, we'd have to become strong again after years of weakness."

Reagan proudly enumerated the successes of his vigorous foreign policy: achieving peace in the Persian Gulf, forcing the Soviets to begin departing from Afghanistan, and negotiating for the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Cambodia and Cuban forces from Angola. These efforts were all waged against communism, the ideology that Reagan believed was the main threat to freedom. "Nothing," he stated, "is less free than pure communism."

Reagan's Cold War record was a bit more complicated than he described. One of the costs of America's renewed "strength" was vastly increased defense expenditure, which helped create a national debt of over one trillion dollars. Peace in the Persian Gulf was temporary, as the Gulf War—which erupted during the presidency of Reagan successor George Bush—later demonstrated. Finally, the Iran-Contra scandal revealed that the Reagan administration employed some questionable means to reach its anticommunist ends-specifically, a complicated scheme involving covertly selling weapons to Iran and illegally supplying the Contra forces in Nicaragua. Nonetheless, the achievements of his administration gained him much favor with the American public, and Ronald Reagan left office as one of the most popular modern U.S. presidents. (History.com)

2010 Death: Miep Gies, who hid Anne Frank:

On this day in 2010, Miep Gies, the last survivor of a small group of people who helped hide a Jewish girl, Anne Frank, and her family from the Nazis during World War II, dies at age 100 in the Netherlands. After the Franks were discovered in 1944 and sent to concentration camps, Gies rescued the notebooks that Anne Frank left behind describing her two years in hiding. These writings were later published as “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl,” which became one of the most widely read accounts of the Holocaust.

Miep Gies was born into a working-class, Catholic family in Vienna, Austria, on February 15, 1909. At age 11, with food shortages in her native land following World War I, she was sent to the Netherlands to live with a foster family who nicknamed her Miep (her birth name was Hermine Santrouschitz). In 1933, she went to work as a secretary for Otto Frank, who ran a small Amsterdam company that produced a substance used to make jam. By the following year, Frank’s wife and two daughters, Margot and Anne, had left their native Germany to join him in the Dutch capital.

In May 1940, the Germans, who had entered World War II in September of the previous year, invaded the Netherlands and quickly made life increasingly restrictive and dangerous for the country’s Jewish population. In early July 1942, the Frank family went into hiding in an attic apartment behind Otto Frank's business. They were eventually joined by Otto Frank's business associate and his wife and son, as well as Miep Gies’ dentist, all of whom were Jewish. Gies, along with her husband Jan, a Dutch social worker, and several of Otto Frank's other employees risked their own lives to smuggle food, supplies and news of the outside world into the secret apartment (which came to be known as the Secret Annex). Gies and her husband even spent a night in hiding with the group to learn firsthand what it was like.

On August 4, 1944, after 25 months in hiding, the eight people in the Secret Annex were discovered by the Gestapo, the German secret state police, who had learned about the hiding place from an anonymous tipster who has never been definitively identified. Gies was working in the building at the time of the raid and avoided arrest because the officer was from her native Vienna and felt sympathy for her. She later went to police headquarters and tried, unsuccessfully, to pay a bribe to free the group.

The occupants of the Secret Annex were sent to concentration camps; only Otto Frank survived. After he was liberated from Auschwitz by Soviet troops in January 1945, he returned to Amsterdam, where Miep Gies gave him a collection of notebooks and several hundred loose papers containing observations the teenage Anne Frank had penned during her time in hiding. Gies recovered the materials from the Secret Annex shortly after the Franks' arrest and hid them in her office desk. She avoided reading the papers during the war out of respect for Anne’s privacy.

Otto Frank, who lived with the Gies family after the war, compiled his daughter’s writings into a manuscript that was first published in the Netherlands in 1947 under the title "Het Acheterhuis" ("Rear Annex"). Later published in English as "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl," the book went on to sell tens of millions of copies worldwide.

In 1987, Gies published a memoir, "Anne Frank Remembered," in which she wrote: "I am not a hero. I stand at the end of the long, long line of good Dutch people who did what I did and more—much more—during those dark and terrible times years ago, but always like yesterday in the heart of those of us who bear witness. Never a day goes by that I do not think of what happened then." (History.com)

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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