January 19

1830 Hitler family: Johanna Huettler: Adolf Hitler's maternal grandmother, is brought into the world by Eva Maria, the wife of farmer Johann Nepomuk Huettler. [For further details, Click here.]

1914 Adolf Hitler: The morning before he is supposed to appear in Linz, Adolf Hitler is escorted from the Munich police station to the Austrian Consulate in Munich to explain himself. The Consul-General takes pity on the gaunt young man, and sends a telegram off to Linz, requesting a postponement of Hitler's hearing until February. [For further details, Click here.]

Hitler's letter to the authorities in Linz:

In the summons, I am described as an artist. I bear this title by right, but it is only relatively accurate. I earn my living independently as a painter, being totally deprived of income (my father was a civil servant), and I work only in order to further my education. Only a small portion of my time can be spent in earning a living, for I am still educating myself to become an architectural painter. My income, therefore, is just enough to cover my expenses.

As testimony, I refer you to my income tax statement, which is enclosed, and I would be grateful if it could be returned to me. It will be seen that my income is estimated at 1,200 marks, which is rather more than I really earn, and does not mean that I actually make 100 marks a month . . . .

With regard to my failure to report for military service in the autumn of 1909, I must say that this was for me an endlessly bitter time. I was then a young man without experience, receiving no financial assistance from anyone, and too proud to accept financial assistance from others, let alone to beg for it. Without support, compelled to depend on my own efforts, I earned only a few kronen, and often only a few farthings from my labors, and this often insufficient to pay for a night's lodging. For two long years I had no other mistress than sorrow and need, no other companion than eternally unsatisfied hunger. I never knew the beautiful word "youth." Even today, five years later, I am constantly reminded of those experiences, and the reminders take the form of frost-blisters on my fingers, hands, and feet. And yet I cannot remember those days without a certain pleasure, now that these vexations have been surmounted. In spite of great want, amid often dubious surroundings, I nevertheless kept my name clean, had a blameless record with the law, and possessed a clear conscience, (except for that one constantly remembered fact that I failed to register for military service). This is the one thing I feel responsible for. It would seem that a moderate fine would be ample penance, and of course I would pay the fine willingly.

I am sending this letter independently of the testimony, which I signed today at the Consulate. I request that any further orders should be transmitted to me through the Consulate, and beg you to believe that I shall fulfill them promptly. All the declarations made by me concerning my case have been verified by the Consular authorities. They have been exceedingly generous, and have given me hope that I may be able to fulfill my military duties at Salzburg. Although I cannot dare to hope for such a thing, I request that this affair not be made unduly difficult for me.

I request that you take the present letter under consideration, and I sign myself

Very Respectfully,
Adolf Hitler
Schleissheimerstrasse 34/III.

1915 World War I: First air raid on Britain:

During World War I, Britain suffers its first casualties from an air attack when two German zeppelins drop bombs on Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn on the eastern coast of England.

The zeppelin, a motor-driven rigid airship, was developed by German inventor Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin in 1900. Although a French inventor had built a power-driven airship several decades before, the zeppelin's rigid dirigible, with its steel framework, was by far the largest airship ever constructed. However, in the case of the zeppelin, size was exchanged for safety, as the heavy steel-framed airships were vulnerable to explosion because they had to be lifted by highly flammable hydrogen gas instead of non-flammable helium gas.

In January 1915, Germany employed three zeppelins, the L.3, the L.4, and the L.6, in a two-day bombing mission against Britain. The L.6 turned back after encountering mechanical problems, but the other two zeppelins succeeded in dropping their bombs on English coastal towns. (History.com)

1917 World War I: Various:

Zimmermann telegram: British cryptographers decipher a telegram from German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann to the German Minister to Mexico, von Eckhardt, offering United States territory to Mexico in return for joining the German cause. Zimmermann Telegram:

On the first of February we intend to begin submarine warfare unrestricted. In spite of this, it is our intention to endeavour to keep neutral the United States of America. If this attempt is not successful, we propose an alliance on the following basis with Mexico: That we shall make war together and together make peace. We shall give general financial support, and it is understood that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. The details are left to you for settlement . . . .  You are instructed to inform the President of Mexico of the above in the greatest confidence as soon as it is certain that there will be an outbreak of war with the United States and suggest that the President of Mexico, on his own initiative, should communicate with Japan suggesting adherence at once to this plan; at the same time, offer to mediate between Germany and Japan. Please call to the attention of the President of Mexico that the employment of ruthless submarine warfare now promises to compel England to make peace in a few months.

Munitions: Approximately 50 tons of TNT exploded at a munitions factory in Silvertown in West Ham, in present-day Greater London, killing over 70 people and injuring over 400 others.

1927 The Society for Space Travel (Verein fuer RaumschiffahrtVfR) is formed in Germany. Such early German rocket pioneers as Johannes Winkler, Rudolf Nebel, Fritz von Opel, and Maximilian Valier are founding members. Wernher von Braun will join in 1930. (Piszkiewicz, Cornwell) [See: Wunderwaffen: Hitler's Deception and the History of Rocketry.]

1929 Various:

Weimar: Reparations: A US committee headed by Owen D. Young is appointed to review the war reparations problem.

Joachim von Ribbentrop meets with Franz von Papen and suggests that a meeting be arranged between Oskar Hindenburg—the Reich President's son—and Hitler. (See January 22)

1934 Kemma concentration camp is closed:

Rudolf Diels (Head of the Prussian Political Police): At this time Joel [Public Prosecutor] also went to Kemma near Wuppertal . . . . The SA had tortured the Communists there in a particularly 'original' way. They were forced to drink salty herring solution and then left to pant in vain for a sip of water throughout the hot summer days. One of my officers who had accompanied Joel reported that the SA there had also played the 'joke' of getting their prisoners to climb trees; they had to hang on in the treetops for hours on end and at certain intervals cry 'cuckoo'. The public prosecutor Winckler in Wuppertal, who proposed to act against the SA, had to flee with his wife and child from their threats. The Regierungspraesident Schmidt in Duesseldorf poured out his heart to me about the atrocities. With Joel, I succeeded in getting Goering to have the 'responsible' SA Group Leader relieved of his office, to ensure that Joel had a free hand in the prosecution of the SA guards. After a few months, Joel succeeded, despite the opposition of the Gauleiter Florian, in starting proceedings against the guilty SA men. But the struggle against Hitler, who finally terminated the proceedings, he was bound to lose.

1939 Hjalmar Schacht has his last meeting with George Rublee in Berlin.

1940 Various:

Church & Reich: Bormann to the Reich Minister for Finance:

As it has been reported to me, the war contribution of the churches for the 3-month period beginning 1 November 1939 has been tentatively set at RM 1,800,000 per month, of which RM I million are to be paid by the Protestant Church, and RM 800,000 by the Catholic Church. The fixing of such a low amount has surprised me. I see from numerous reports that political communities are obliged to raise such a large war contribution that the performance of their tasks-some of them very important; for example, in the field of public welfare-is endangered. In view of this, a higher quota also from the churches appears to me to be absolutely justified.

Hollywood: Premiere of 'You Natzy Spy', starring 'The Three Stooges'. This marks the first time Adolf Hitler is parodied by Hollywood, with Moe Howard (Moses Horwitz), a man of Jewish decent, playing Hitler. Synopsis: In this satire of the Nazis the Three Stooges are paperhangers in the country of Moronica. When evil cabinet ministers overthrow the king, they decide to make Moe the new ruler as he'll be stupid enough to follow their orders. Moe becomes Dictator, Curly is a Field Marshal and Larry becomes Minister of Propaganda. After successfully preventing a female spy from committing mayhem, the boys are run out of office by a mob and eaten by lions. [For further details, Click here.]

1941 World War II: British attack Italians in Africa:

On this day, British forces in East Africa, acting on information obtained by breaking the Italians' coded messages, invade Italian-occupied Eritrea-a solid step towards victory in Africa.

British Intelligence had been privy to secret Italian communiques from Africa for the past five months; every instruction sent from one Italian military unit to another was analyzed by the Brits. The Italian viceroy in Ethiopia was unwittingly receiving and transmitting every Italian military secret-and weakness. Consequently, British forces were able to organize a strategy to advance on Italian-occupied territory, with Italian troop movements in mind.

On January 19, news of an Italian withdrawal from the town of Kassala, in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, which the Italians had occupied since July 1940, reached British ears. The British garrison there had been slow to react initially to the Italian invasion of Sudan, preferring to wait to get a clearer picture of the Italian invasion strategy for East Africa. The British bided their time by beefing up their forces, especially tank forces, to something closer to parity with the Italians'. The Italian withdrawal from Kassala, a proactive defensive movement, provided the perfect opportunity for Gen. William Platt and the Indian divisions to launch an assault on Eritrea, which bordered Sudan and Ethiopia. It was not long before Italian-occupied Ethiopia and Somaliland fell. (History.com)

1942 World War II: Various:

Field Marshal von Bock is appointed to replace von Reichenau.

War at Sea: Submarine U-66 torpedoes and sinks Canadian passenger freighter RMS Lady Hawkins off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA. Of 212 passengers and 109 crew, 71 survive.

1943 World War II: Mihai Antonescu—Romanian Foreign Minister—asks Mussolini to take the lead of a Latin League and to start negotiations with the Allies.

1944 World War II: Various:

War in the Air: In a short air raid on Berlin, the Royal Air Force drops some 2,300 tons of bombs.

USA: The federal government relinquishes control of the nation's railroads following settlement of a wage dispute.

1945 World War II: Various:

From notes of a conference between Karl Doenitz and Hitler:

The Fuehrer is considering whether or not Germany should renounce the Geneva Convention . . . . The Fuehrer orders the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy to consider the pros and cons of this step and to state his opinion as soon as possible. Doenitz: "On the contrary, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Even from a general standpoint it appears to the Commander-in-Chief that this measure would bring no advantage. It would be better to carry out the measures considered necessary without warning, and at all costs to save face with the outer world.

Eastern Front: Marshal Ivan Konev takes both Tarnow and Krakow. To the south, Zhukov's troops takes Lodz, and the Fourth Ukraine Front takes Nowy Sacz. Wloclawek on the Vistula also falls to the Soviets. [See: The Last Days of the Third Reich.]

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Day 38: Continuation of case relating to forced labor. Beginning of case regarding actions in Western Europe.

I have told the Tribunal that the resistance offered by the prisoners of war and by the workers of the occupied territories against the activities of the defendants, which were in turn insidious and brutal, wrecked the plan for the recruitment of foreign workers. The Defendant Sauckel encountered the greatest difficulty in carrying out the programs which he had persuaded Hitler and the Defendants Goering, Speer, and Funk to accept.

From this it does not follow that Nazi Germany did not succeed in carrying out mass deportations of foreign workers. The number of native workers from the occupied territories of Western Europe who were deported into Germany is very high. More numerous still were those workers compelled to work at home in factories and workyards under the control of the occupation authorities.

I shall give the Tribunal statistical information which will enable it to verify my statements. [For the full text of today's proceedings, Click here.]

1950 Communist China recognizes North Vietnam:

The People's Republic of China bestows diplomatic recognition upon the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Communist China's official recognition of Ho Chi Minh's communist regime resulted in much needed financial and military assistance in Ho's battle against the French in Vietnam, and also pushed the United States to take a more intensive and active role in the conflict in Southeast Asia. [For further information, click here]

1961 Eisenhower cautions successor about Laos: Outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower cautions incoming President John F. Kennedy that Laos is "the key to the entire area of Southeast Asia," and might even require the direct intervention of U.S. combat troops. [For further information, click here]

1977 Ford pardons Tokyo Rose:

On this day in 1977, President Gerald R. Ford pardons Tokyo Rose. Although the nickname originally referred to several Japanese women who broadcast Axis propaganda over the radio to Allied troops during World War II, it eventually became synonymous with a Japanese-American woman named Iva Toguri. On the orders of the Japanese government, Toguri and other women broadcast sentimental American music and phony announcements regarding U.S. troop losses in a vain attempt to destroy the morale of Allied soldiers.

An American citizen born in Los Angeles, Toguri was in Japan at the time the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. She graduated from UCLA in 1940 and hoped to become a doctor, but when an elderly aunt living in Japan became ill, Toguri's family sent Toguri to take care of her. She left the United States in July 1941 carrying an identification card, but no passport. When rumblings of war between Japan and the U.S. reached a crescendo later that year, she tried to return to the U.S. but was denied because she did not have proof of citizenship.

Toguri experienced alienation in both the U.S. and Japan. Although an American citizen, she frequently encountered anti-Japanese racism while living in California. For their part, the Japanese government considered her an enemy alien and unsuccessfully tried to force her to renounce her U.S. citizenship. They also refused her request to be interned as a foreign national. Left to fend for herself in Japan, she found a job as a translator and typist for Radio Tokyo. Privately, Toguri refused to stifle her pro-American views on the war and as a result earned the trust of two Allied POWs who were forced to work at the station. The POWs were tortured until they agreed to write phony reports of Allied troop movements and casualty reports that a number of unidentified Tokyo Roses then broadcast. When the war ended, intense efforts to capture the notorious broadcasters began.

Upon her capture in 1945, Toguri insisted that she was forced into her traitorous role by the Japanese government and swore that she had never broadcast false military reports, limiting her shows to light musical fare while smuggling food and medicine to the Allied POWs. Nevertheless, Toguri was labeled a traitor for airing songs like My Resistance is Low. After a year's imprisonment in Japan, Toguri was released and returned to the United States, only to be promptly re-arrested for treason. The judge, who later admitted having anti-Japanese prejudice, sentenced her to 10 years in prison and fined her $10,000. She was released early in 1956 for good behavior, but was immediately given an order deporting her back to Japan. Over the next 20 years, Toguri fought for a pardon from three presidential administrations with the help of family members, attorneys and the POWs she had helped at Radio Tokyo. Finally in 1977, after an episode of 60 Minutes was broadcast revealing Toguri's true story and highlighting her ongoing fight for justice, President Gerald Ford granted her clemency just before leaving office. (History.com)

1983 Butcher of Lyons arrested in Bolivia:

Klaus Barbie, the Nazi Gestapo chief of Lyons, France, during the German occupation, is arrested in Bolivia for his crimes against humanity four decades earlier.

As chief of Nazi Germany's secret police in occupied France, Barbie sent thousands of French Jews and French Resistance members to their deaths in concentration camps, while torturing, abusing, or executing many others. After the Allied liberation of France, he fled to Germany, where under an assumed identity he joined other ex-Nazi officials in the formation of an underground anti-communist organization. In 1947, the U.S. Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC) broke up the organization and arrested its senior members, although Barbie remained at large until the CIC offered him money and protection in exchange for his cooperation in countering Soviet espionage efforts. Barbie worked as a U.S. agent in Germany for two years and in 1949 was smuggled to Bolivia, where he assumed the name of "Klaus Altmann" and continued his work as a U.S. agent.

In addition to his work for the Americans, he performed services for Bolivia's various military regimes, especially that of Hugo "El Petiso" Banzer, who came to power in 1971 and became one of the country's most oppressive leaders. Barbie provided a similar expertise for Banzer as he had for the Nazis, torturing and interrogating political opponents and dispatching many of them to internment camps, where many were executed or died from mistreatment. It was at this time that Nazi hunters Serge Klarsfeld and Beatte Kunzel discovered Barbie's whereabouts, but Banzer refused to extradite him to France. In the early 1980s, a liberal regime came to power in Bolivia and agreed to extradite Barbie in exchange for French aid to the destitute nation. In January 1983, Barbie was arrested, and he arrived in France on February 7.

Legal wrangling, especially between the groups representing his Jewish and French Resistance victims, delayed his trial for four years. Finally, on May 11, 1987, the "Butcher of Lyons," as he was known in France, went on trial for 177 crimes against humanity. In a courtroom twist unimaginable four decades earlier, Barbie was defended by three minority lawyers--an Asian, an African, and an Arab--who made the dramatic case that the French and the Jews were as guilty of crimes against humanity as Barbie or any other Nazi. Barbie's lawyers were more interested in putting France and Israel on trial than in actually proving their client's innocence, and on July 4, 1987, he was found guilty. For his crimes, Klaus Barbie was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison, France's highest punishment. He died in prison of cancer on September 25, 1991, at the age of 77. (History.com)

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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