January 28

1871 Franco-Prussian War: Paris surrenders to the Prussians:

Prussia's prime minister von Bismarck suggested to shell Paris in order to ensure the city's quick surrender and render all French efforts to free the city pointless. But the German high command, headed by the King of Prussia, turned down the proposal on the grounds that a bombardment would affect civilians, violate the rules of engagement, and turn the opinion of third parties against the Germans. It was also contended that a quick French surrender would leave the new French armies undefeated and allow France to renew the war shortly after. The new French armies would have to be annihilated first, and Paris would have to be starved into surrender . . . . 

1907: 16-year-old Adolf Hitler completes his last piano lesson and discontinues his musical training under Josef Prevatzki. With his mother recovering from recent breast-cancer surgery, the piano rental fee and the cost of lessons has become too much for the family to continue. Besides, Hitler had shown little aptitude for the instrument, or for actual practicing. [For further details, Click here.]

1910 Birth: John Banner: Jewish Austrian actor best known for his role as a German soldier, the comedic Sgt. Schultz on the television situation comedy Hogan's Heroes.

John Banner was born to Jewish parents on January 28, 1910. 20-year-old Adolf Hitler, a street artist who had failed to be accepted by the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, was living down the street in a Vienna men's hostel. Both were sons of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As luck would have it, when Hitler's Germany took over Austria on March 12, 1938, Banner, a budding young actor, was on tour in Switzerland with an acting company. Accepted by the US as a political refugee, Banner soon got a gig as the Master of Ceremonies for a musical revue, learning English along the way. Unfortunately, most of his family, still trapped in Austria, would perish in Hitler's death camps. [See: Hogan's Jews.]

1915 World War I: Germans sink American merchant ship:

In the country's first such action against American shipping interests on the high seas, the captain of a German cruiser orders the destruction of the William P. Frye, an American merchant ship. [For further details, Click here.]

1917 U.S. ends search for Pancho Villa: American forces are recalled from Mexico after nearly 11 months of fruitless searching for Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, who was accused of leading a bloody raid against Columbus, New Mexico. [For further information, click here]

1918 Various:

Massive strikes in Germany:

Although the year 1917 had brought a string of military triumphs to the Central Powers . . . it had also seen hunger and discontent on the home front rise to unprecedented levels. There were a total of 561 strikes in 1917, up from 240 the year before and 137 in 1915. Real wages-or the ratio of wages to cost of living-were falling, with disastrous effects for industrial and white-collar workers alike.

War with Russia had cut Germany and Austria-Hungary off from a crucial supply of food and the Allied naval blockade in the North Sea, in effect since early in the war, had exacerbated the resulting shortages. At the beginning of 1918, the thorny negotiations between Russia and the Central Powers at Brest-Litovsk promised to delay a much-needed influx of food and resources even longer. Discontent flared first in Austria, where flour rations were cut in mid-January. Strikes began almost immediately in Vienna and by January 19 there was a general strike throughout the country.

Food shortages were even worse in Germany, where some 250,000 people had died from hunger in 1917. On January 28, 1918, 100,000 workers took to the streets of Berlin, demanding an end to the war on all fronts. Within a few days, the number was up to 400,000. The Berlin strikers enjoyed support in a string of other major cities, including Dusseldorf, Kiel, Cologne and Hamburg. By one estimate, more than 4 million took to the streets across Germany.

The reaction of the German government and the army, frightened by visions of Bolshevik-style revolution and worried the workers' revolt would further delay the peace talks at Brest-Litovsk, was swift and decisive.

From Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf:

Just when preparations were being made to launch a final offensive which would bring this seemingly eternal struggle to an end, while endless columns of transports were bringing men and munitions to the front, and while the men were being trained for that final onslaught, then it was that the greatest act of treachery during the whole War was accomplished in Germany.

Germany must not win the War. At that moment when victory seemed ready to alight on the German standards, a conspiracy was arranged for the purpose of striking at the heart of the German spring offensive with one blow from the rear and thus making victory impossible. A general strike in the munitions factories was organized.

If this conspiracy could achieve its purpose the German front would have collapsed and the wishes of the Vorwaerts (the organ of the Social-Democratic Party) that this time victory should not take the side of the German banners, would have been fulfilled. For want of munitions the front would be broken through within a few weeks, the offensive would be effectively stopped and the Entente saved. Then International Finance would assume control over Germany and the internal objective of the Marxist national betrayal would be achieved. That objective was the destruction of the national economic system and the establishment of international capitalistic domination in its stead. And this goal has really been reached, thanks to the stupid credulity of the one side and the unspeakable treachery of the other.

The munitions strike, however, did not bring the final success that had been hoped for: namely, to starve the front of ammunition. It lasted too short a time for the lack of ammunitions as such to bring disaster to the army, as was originally planned. But the moral damage was much more terrible.

Finnish Civil War: Rebels seize control of Helsinki, and members of the Senate of Finland go underground.

Russian Revolution: The Bolsheviks found the Red Army:

After the October Revolution it was decided by Vladimir Lenin that the old Russian Army would have to be turned into an instrument of the Communist Party. The old army was demobilized and in January 1918 the Soviet government ordered the formation of the Red Army of Workers and Peasants. Leon Trotsky, the Commissar of War, was appointed the head of the Red Army.

1920 Weimar: Rudolf Hess is invited to tea at the home of Dr. Karl Haushofer for the first time. Hess will be drawn into Haushofer's lectures on geopolitics and will willingly act as his unpaid assistant. (THP)

1921 The Unknown Soldier: A symbolic tomb is installed beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to honor the unknown dead of World War I.

1925 (Exact Date Unknown): Thirteen year-old Wernher von Braun is inspired when he reads Hermann Oberth's book By Rocket into Interplanetary Space. (Piszkiewicz, Braun) [See: Wunderwaffen: Hitler's Deception and the History of Rocketry.]

1930 Primo de Rivera, the strong man of Spain, resigns.

1932 First Shanghai Incident: The Japanese army occupies Shanghai to force an end to a Chinese boycott of Japanese goods.

By January 27, the Japanese military had already concentrated around thirty ships, forty airplanes, and nearly seven thousand troops around the shoreline of Shanghai, to put down any resistance in case violence broke out with the justification it had to defend its own concessions. The Japanese also issued an ultimatum to the Shanghai municipal government, demanding a public condemnation and monetary compensation by the Chinese for any Japanese interest damaged in the monk incident, and that the Chinese government actively put down all anti-Japanese protests in the city. In the afternoon of January 28, the Shanghai municipal government agreed to these demands. However, around midnight, three thousand Japanese troops proceeded to attack.See: Countdown to Infamy: Timeline to Pearl Harbor.

1933 Weimar: President von Hindenburg refuses to allow von Schleicher to dissolve the Reichstag. General von Schleicher resigns as Chancellor.

Although Schleicher made some initial progress, he was ultimately rebuffed by both sides. Meanwhile, the ousted Franz von Papen now had Hindenburg's ear, because the latter was beginning to have misgivings about Schleicher's "cryptoparliamentarianism" and willingness to work with the SPD, whom the old President despised. Papen was urging the aged President to appoint Hitler as Chancellor in a coalition with the Nationalists the DNVP, or Deutsche Nationalistische Volkspartei, German National People's Party who, together with Papen, would supposedly be able to moderate Nazi excesses. Unbeknownst to Schleicher, Papen was holding secret meetings with both Hitler and Hindenburg, who then refused Schleicher's request for emergency powers and another dissolution of the Reichstag. The President dismissed Schleicher, calling Hitler into power.

1934 Lithuania: Police raid Kehillah headquarters in Ponevez to squelch the anti-Nazi boycott. (THP)

1938 Various:

President Roosevelt asks Congress for increased appropriations to build up the US armed forces. [See: Why Did the US Join the Fight Against Hitler?]

Death: Bernd Rosemeyer: German racecar driver; in a fatal crash while attempting to set a world speed record. Heinrich Himmler chose to make him a member of the SS, an 'honor' he would have been unwise to refuse. All German drivers were required to join the National Socialist Motor Corps, but Rosemeyer allegedly got away with never wearing a uniform.

1939 World War II: Chamberlain tells an audience in Birmingham that Great Britain must prepare herself to defend not only her territory but also "the principle of Liberty."

1940 World War II: Various:

The Cliveden Set, led by Lady Astor, actively pressures the British government to declare war on the USSR for invading Finland. They believe the Communists, not Hitler, are Britain's real enemies.

If Neville Chamberlain and the "Cliveden group"—the title is taken from Lord Astor's country house—have their way, it will not be long before Hitler is the master of the European continent. Some time or other the stork will have to be told of the part played in the pro-German intrigue that led to the recent crisis by the family of American millionaire snobs who migrated to England to get themselves made into aristocrats and whose money has enabled them to lay hands on two of the most important London newspapers. The one hope is that the English people will revolt as they did at the time of the Hoare-Laval plan and prevent Neville Chamberlain from putting the power of the British Empire at the disposal of Hitler.

Nazi "Euthanasia": Killing mental patients by means of carbon monoxide gas is tried out in the jail at Brandenburg. By September 1941, more than 70,000 German mental patients will have been "euthanized" in hospitals at Grafeneck, Brandenburg, Bernburg, Hartheim, Sonnenstein, and Hadamar, using carbon monoxide provided by the I.G. Farben corporation. (THP) [See: What Was the Nature of Hitler's Anti-Semitism?]

1944 World War II: Charles de Gaulle makes his landmark appeal for a new relationship between France and Africa.

1945 World War II: Various:

Katowice is taken by Marshal Konev's forces, and in the north the First Belorussian Front enters German Pomerania. [See: The Last Days of the Third Reich.]

Burma Road re-opened: A convoy of US trucks from India crosses the Burmese-Chinese border, opening the famous Burma Road.

The jungle was everywhere. Its vines grabbed their ankles as they walked. Its steamy heat sapped their strength. And every time they reached the summit of yet another six-thousand-foot mountain, they could only stare across the quilted green rain forest below and let their gazes lift slowly toward the horizon. Ahead of them, looming in the distance, they could finally see the next hogback ridge between them and safety. They would, of course, have to climb over that one, too. They were a ragged line of 114 tired and hungry people - Americans, British, Indians, and Burmese; civilians and soldiers alike - and they were now on the run from several thousand Japanese troops that were clawing through the jungle after them . . . . 

From the diary of a German soldier lost and hiding in Hungary:

I've now finally given up hope that the war will be won. What an enormous guilt Hitler bears. If I can't see my family again, I don't want to live any longer. Above all, a quick death would be better for them than to be deported or otherwise tortured. I've buried one hope after another in this war. But now is the worst time. What will happen? . . . The biggest mistake was the war with Russia. Whatever the courage and readiness for sacrifice, you can't take on an entire world . . . . We just bit off too much to chew. Above all our leadership. (Kershaw) [See: What Were Adolf Hitler's Major Blunders?]

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: During the French phase of the prosecution, French journalist Marie Claude Vaillant-Courturier provides heart-wrenching eyewitness testimony of atrocities at Auschwitz.

Then when the signal was given we had to go through the door one by one, and we were struck in the back with a cudgel, each one of us, in order to make us run. Those who could not run, either because they were too old or too ill were caught by a hook and taken to Block 25, "waiting block" for the gas chamber. On that day 10 of the French women of our convoy were thus caught and taken to Block 25. When all the internees were back in the camp, a party to which I belonged was organized to go and pick up the bodies of the dead which were scattered over the plain as on a battlefield. We carried to the yard of Block 25 the dead and the dying without distinction, and they remained there stacked up in a pile. This Block 25, which was the anteroom of the gas chamber, if one may express it so, is well known to me because at that time we had been transferred to Block 26 and our windows opened on the yard of Number 25. One saw stacks of corpses piled up in the courtyard, and from time to time a hand or a head would stir among the bodies.

1964 Cold War: Soviets shoot down U.S. jet:

The U.S. State Department angrily accuses the Soviet Union of shooting down an American jet that strayed into East German airspace. Three U.S. officers aboard the plane were killed in the incident. The Soviets responded with charges that the flight was a "gross provocation," and the incident was an ugly reminder of the heightened East-West tensions of the Cold War era. [For further details, Click here.]

1965 Spandau Prison: From Spandau: The Secret Diaries, by Albert Speer:

Last night [Baldur von] Schirach was taken to the hospital. Colonel Nadysev was shocked because in spite of all the secrecy television crews appeared at the gate with searchlights mounted precisely at the minute Schirach was to leave. (Speer II)

1988 Death: Klaus Fuchs: a German-born theoretical physicist and atomic spy who was convicted of surreptitiously supplying information on the British and American atomic bomb research to the USSR during, and shortly after, World War II. Fuchs was an extremely competent scientist, being responsible for many significant theoretical calculations relating to the first fission weapons and early models of the hydrogen bomb while a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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