February 2

1350 (Exact Date Unknown): The first mention of a multi-stage rocket (in this case, a rocket launching-tube coupled with a fire lance) is in the Huolongjing, or Fire Dragon Manual, a military treatise compiled during the early Ming Dynasty. Note: The illustration above is from the Huolongjing.

One uses a bamboo stick 4 ft 2 in long, with an iron (or steel) arrow-head 4.5 inches long . . . behind the feathering there is an iron weight 0.4 inches long. At the front end there is a carton tube bound on to the stick, where the "rising gunpowder" is lit. When you want to fire it off, you use a frame shaped like a dragon, or else conveniently a tube of wood or bamboo to contain it. (Needham, Temple) [See: Wunderwaffen: Hitler's Deception and the History of Rocketry.]

1873 Birth: Constantin von Neurath: German Foreign Minister from 1932 to February 4, 1938. Will join the Nazi party in 1937; Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia on March 18, 1939. Summoned to Berlin on September 23, 1941 to be replaced by Heydrich, he will officially be succeeded by Wilhelm Frick on August 25, 1943. Sentenced at Nuremberg to fifteen years imprisonment for war crimes in 1946, but will be released after serving eight years.

1887 Birth: Ernst 'Putzi' Hanfstaengl: Hitler's personal friend who from 1922 will introduce Hitler into Munich society. Hanfstaengl will become NSDAP foreign press chief in 1931. Alienated from Hitler in 1937 due to a practical joke gone bad, he will first flee to England and then the United States. During World War II, he will become an advisor to Roosevelt and the Hearst press. Will return to Germany in 1946 and live in Munich until his death.

1900 Death: Edmund Hitler: Adolf Hitler's younger brother. Mysteriously, both his mother and father fail to attend the boy's funeral. Instead, they travel to neighboring Linz, where the local bishop resides and don't return until the following day. Eleven-year-old Adolf goes to the funeral alone. No headstone is ever erected on Edmund's grave. Some notice that Hitler's personality seems to change. He becomes distant, moody, and evasive. His grades deteriorate, and he begins to cause trouble in school. (Toland; Waite) Note: Toland writes that Edmund died on February 2; Payne states he died on February 29; and Waite (as usual, in a world of his own) says he was buried on March 30. [For further details, Click here.]

1915 World War I: Turkish Front: Advance elements of Djemal Pasha's army strike across the Suez canal in pontoon boats, but are repelled. No further Turkish assaults are made against the canal, but the threat holds back reinforcements from Gallipoli.

1916 World War I: Zeppelin crashes into North Sea:

Two days after nine German zeppelins dropped close to 400 bombs throughout the English Midlands, the crew of the British fishing trawler King Stephen comes across the crashed remains of one of the giant airships floating in the North Sea.

Developed by a German army officer, Count Ferdinand Zeppelin, and first flown in 1900, the zeppelin was an impressive aircraft by the beginning of World War I. With the capacity to carry five machine guns and up to 2,000 kilograms (4,400 pounds) of bombs, it could reach a maximum speed of 136 kilometers per hour (84.5 miles per hour) and a height of 4,250 meters (13,943 feet).

The first zeppelin attack on England took place on January 19, 1915, when two of the airships bombed the English coastal towns of Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn, killing a total of four people. The first bombing raid on London came on May 31 of that year, when a single zeppelin dropped 90 small bombs and 30 grenades on the city, leaving seven dead and 35 wounded.

The raid of January 31, 1916, by nine zeppelins was one of the largest Britain saw during the war. The Germans bombed the West Midlands towns of Bradley, Tipton, Wednesbury and Walsall. Across the region, more than 70 people were killed and more than 100 injured in the attacks.

Just before daybreak on February 2, King Stephen skipper William Martin spotted a downed airship partially submerged in the North Sea. The skipper and his crew waited at a safe distance until daylight when they confirmed the wreckage was that of a German zeppelin with the identification mark L-19. With three of its four engines failing, the L-19 had reportedly come under Dutch fire, which punctured its gas cells and brought it down, killing some of the crew.

The nine unarmed men aboard the King Stephen saw that about 20 German soldiers had survived the crash. Fearful that the German airmen could easily overpower them and take control of the ship, Martin and his crew refused the soldiers' pleas for help and did not take the men aboard, choosing instead to return to Britain to report their discovery to the authorities. The remaining crew of the L-19 disappeared with their craft. Word of the incident soon got out in both Germany and Britain—some saw Martin's decision as a necessary one to protect his crew, while others, including some Britons, vilified Martin for what they saw as an unpardonable act of cruelty, even for wartime. (History.com)

1920 Various:

Estonia: USSR signs the Treaty of Tartu (Dorpat):

The terms of the treaty stated that Soviet Russia recognized the independence of Republic of Estonia de jure and renounced in perpetuity all rights to the territory of Estonia. The treaty established the border between Estonia and Soviet Russia and regulated the return of Estonian people and property evacuated to the Russia because of the World War I. Russia also agreed to pay Estonia 15 million gold rubles, a proportional share from the gold reserves of the former Russian Empire.

Weimar: Memel: France occupies the Memel Territory:

According to the Treaty of Versailles, the German area north of Memel river was put as Territoire de Memel under the administration of the Council of Ambassadors, and French troops were sent for protection. During the time of French administration, the idea of an independent State of Memelland prevailed among local inhabitants. The organisation "Deutsch-Litauischer Heimatbund" (German-Lithuanian homeland federation) promoted the idea of an Freistaat Memelland, which later should return back to Germany.

1926 Weimar: Four members of the German terrorist organization, the Feme of the illegal Black Reichswehr, are sentenced to death. In subsequent trials the German War Office suppresses much damaging evidence.

.The Versailles treaty restricted the numbers of the German army to 100,000 men, as well as forbidding aircraft, heavy artillery, submarines, capital ships, tanks and chemical warfare capacity. A military commission was appointed by the Allies to maintain these restrictions. The Reichswehr under Hans von Seeckt evaded these prohibitions through a variety of measures, initially hiding stores of weapons and munitions and trying to maintain production capacity by camouflaging it as civilian, but also by making political arrangements with Soviet Russia continuing the cooperation that had existed after the treaty of Brest-Litowsk. In a wider sense, Freikorps like the Sturmabteilung (SA) or the Organisation Consul also belonged to the Black Reichswehr.

1932 Geneva Disarmament Conference begins with 60 countries attending:

It was the first world disarmament conference ever called, it had no precedents, no beaten or tried paths to direct its course. It assembled under adverse circumstances, with a conflict between China and Japan in the Orient and with many political complications in Europe. During the course of the conference there were two elections in Germany, one election in France with three changes of Government, and there were also changes in the Governments of many other states which delayed and impaired to a large extent the work of the General Disarmament Conference. However, it decided definitely to abolish chemical and bacteriological warfare, which is a great boon to humanity. It absolutely prohibited air attack on the civil population under any circumstances.

1933 Nazi Germany: Hitler bans all political demonstrations except those of the National Socialists and dissolves the German Parliament. [See: How Did Adolf Hitler Consolidate his Power?]

1934 Holocaust: The Nazis publish a version of the Psalms of David that eliminates all references to Jews. [See: Was Adolf Hitler a Christian?]

1937 Holocaust: In reply to a question from the Reich Minister of Science, Education, and National Culture about the number of Jews and half-Jews supported by the DFG, its president reports: 'None at all.' (THP)

1941 World War II: Various:

Holocaust: Madagascar: According to Hitler's army adjutant, Gerhard Engel, Hitler tells a small group of intimates that he had been thinking of sending a couple million Jews to Madagascar but the war had prevented this; he was now thinking of something else, which 'was not exactly friendlier.' [See: Was the German Military Complicit in the Holocaust?]

Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels verbally attacks Winston Churchill:

It is not easy to give a character sketch of this man who lacks all character. He is one of those political chameleons who can change his color as needed and his opinions a thousand times, and makes energetic use of these abilities. He lies not only out of necessity, but for the sheer pleasure of it, for it is part of him. As one leading English newspaper wrote after the bitter experiences of the World War, he is a political juggler who unfortunately always leads his country in the wrong direction. One must know Churchill if he is to understand England's present policies and military leadership. They, like he, are wholly without direction or plan, an endless chain of actions and improvisations that now and again seem to prosper at first, but in the end regularly just miss success.

1942 World War II: Various:

Holocaust: Hitler tells Himmler and other evening guests: 'Today, we must conduct the same struggle that Pasteur and Koch had to fight. The cause of countless ills is a bacillus: the Jew . . . . We will become healthy if we eliminate the Jew.' (THP)

Quisling becomes prime minister of puppet regime in Norway:

On this day, Vidkun Quisling, a collaborator with the German occupiers of Norway, is established as prime minister of a puppet government.

On April 9, 1940, German warships entered major Norwegian ports, from Narvik to Oslo, deployed thousands of German troops, and occupied Norway. German forces were able to slip through the mines Britain had laid around Norwegian ports because local garrisons were ordered to allow the Germans to land unopposed. The order came from a Norwegian commander, Vidkun Quisling, who was loyal to Norway's pro-fascist former foreign minister.

Hours after the invasion, the German minister in Oslo demanded Norway's surrender. The Norwegian government refused, and the Germans responded with a parachute invasion. In September 1940, "commissarial counselors" in the control of the Germans replaced Norway's administrative council. Chief of these "counselors" was Quisling, who was given dictatorial powers and who proceeded to earn the enmity of Norwegians as he sent thousands of people to German concentration camps and executed members of the resistance movement.

On February 1, 1942, the commissarial counselors formed a formal government loyal to Germany, with Quisling as its prime minister. When Germany finally surrendered in May 1945, Quisling was arrested by Norway's Allied liberators, tried for treason, and executed. His name continues to be a synonym for "traitor."

Japanese-Americans: The Los Angeles Times urges security measures against Japanese-Americans.

Eventually 110,000 Japanese Americans were interned, many selling their possessions at below cost and at a moment's notice. Two-thirds were citizens and 25% were children under fifteen. US Army units made up of Japanese Americans were sent to fight in Italy. All of the Japanese-Americans in the Army at the time of Pearl Harbor were incorporated into this new unit, the 442 Regimental Combat Team (RCT). Many veterans of the 442nd RCT swore their overall commander was racist, sending them on suicide missions against positions that couldn't be taken with larger units. The 442nd received more medals than any other unit in US military history.

USA: Auto production: US auto factories switch from commercial to war production. It will be extremely difficult to purchase a new car for many years to come.

Long before the United States entered World War II, automobile manufacturers began devoting ever greater amounts of production time to defense work, for export to Britain as well as for the United States. The Chrysler Corporation was one of the car makers most active in defense work. As early as 7 June 1940, in an article "Chrysler Ready to Make Tanks," the New York Times quoted a "ranking" engineer at Chrysler saying that the corporation could, in a few weeks, produce light tanks as quickly as they made cars: In event of an armament order, he explained, a new plant could be erected within a short time, probably less than a month. Meanwhile, tools and dies would be prepared for immediate installation. Machinery would be obtained by 'robbing' the automobile factories.

1943 World War II: Battle of Stalingrad ends:

The last German troops in the Soviet city of Stalingrad surrender to the Red Army, ending one of the pivotal battles of World War II.

On June 22, 1941, despite the terms of the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, Nazi Germany launched a massive invasion against the USSR . . . . However, the Soviets held on, and the coming of winter forced a pause to the German offensive.

For the 1942 summer offensive, Adolf Hitler ordered the Sixth Army, under General Friedrich von Paulus, to take Stalingrad in the south, an industrial center and obstacle to Nazi control of the precious Caucasian oil wells. In August, the German Sixth Army made advances across the Volga River while the German Fourth Air Fleet reduced Stalingrad to a burning rubble, killing over 40,000 civilians. In early September, General Paulus ordered the first offensives into Stalingrad, estimating that it would take his army about 10 days to capture the city. Thus began one of the most horrific battles of World War II and arguably the most important because it was the turning point in the war between Germany and the USSR.

In their attempt to take Stalingrad, the German Sixth Army faced a bitter Red Army under General Vasily Zhukov employing the ruined city to their advantage, transforming destroyed buildings and rubble into natural defensive fortifications. In a method of fighting the Germans began to call the Rattenkrieg, or "Rat's War," the opposing forces broke into squads eight or 10 strong and fought each other for every house and yard of territory. The battle saw rapid advances in street-fighting technology, such as a German machine gun that shot around corners and a light Russian plane that glided silently over German positions at night, dropping lethal bombs without warning. However, both sides lacked necessary food, water, or medical supplies, and tens of thousands perished every week.

Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was determined to liberate the city named after him, and in November he ordered massive reinforcements to the area. On November 19, General Zhukov launched a great Soviet counteroffensive out of the rubble of Stalingrad. German command underestimated the scale of the counterattack, and the Sixth Army was quickly overwhelmed by the offensive, which involved 500,000 Soviet troops, 900 tanks, and 1,400 aircraft. Within three days, the entire German force of more than 200,000 men was encircled.

Italian and Romanian troops at Stalingrad surrendered, but the Germans hung on, receiving limited supplies by air and waiting for reinforcements. Hitler ordered Von Paulus to remain in place and promoted him to field marshal, as no Nazi field marshal had ever surrendered. Starvation and the bitter Russian winter took as many lives as the merciless Soviet troops, and on January 21, 1943, the last of the airports held by the Germans fell to the Soviets, completely cutting the Germans off from supplies. On January 31, Von Paulus surrendered German forces in the southern sector, and on February 2 the remaining German troops surrendered. Only 90,000 German soldiers were still alive, and of these only 5,000 troops would survive the Soviet prisoner-of-war camps and make it back to Germany.

1944 World War II: Pacific: The 4th US marine division conquers Roi, Marshall Islands.

Operations against Eniwetok and Ujelang Atolls in the Marshall Islands [are] begun to occupy and defend Eniwetok Atoll, which is to furnish a striking base for operations against the Marianas Islands. During the operation, Seventh Air Force aircraft operating from newly acquired bases in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands neutralize airfields in the Marianas and continue to pound by-passed airfields in the Marshalls.

1945 World War II: Various:

Yalta: President Franklin D. Roosevelt disembarks from the 'Sacred Cow' (an early version of Air Force One)—escorted by five P-38 fighters—in Malta on the way to the Yalta Conference to meet with British Prime Minister Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. He is met by Churchill, US Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius Jr., Averell Harriman, Harry Hopkins, and Anthony Eden. The Western conference participants—700 British and American officials—soon board twenty American Skymasters and five British Yorks and continue on to Yalta. (Harriman)

From Special Envoy to Churchill and Stalin 1941-1946 by W. Averell Harriman and Elie Abel:

Roosevelt had less than ten weeks to live when he reached Malta on Friday morning, February 2, 1945. His worn, wasted look alarmed both Churchill and Harriman. 'I was terribly shocked at the change since our last talks in Washington, after the November elections,' Harriman recalled. 'The signs of deterioration seemed to me unmistakable.' The Prime Minister watched with trepidation the next day as the President in his wheelchair was lowered to the ground from his new plane, the Sacred Cow, at Saki Airport in the Crimea. To him, Roosevelt looked 'frail and ill.' Rumors that the President was in failing health had been circulating even before the 1944 campaign.

Although the White House dismissed such talk as politically inspired, Roosevelt had been suffering from abnormally high blood pressure since 1937. Not even Mrs. Roosevelt knew that since the spring of 1944 her husband was being treated for an enlarged heart and congestive heart failure. Admiral McIntire, the President's doctor, saw to it that the truth about Roosevelt's condition was kept from the country and from the Roosevelt family as well.

Death: Karl F. Goerdeler: Mayor of Leipzig, hanged for participation in the 'July 20th plot' against the German dictator.

Goerdeler opposed the National Socialist racial ideology. He left the DNVP in 1931 when this party began to cooperate with the Nazi party. After 1933, Goerdeler was one of very few politicians in opposition to the ruling NSDAP. When the Nazis in 1936 ordered the demolition of a monument to the Jewish composer Felix Mendelssohn, Goerdeler tried to achieve its rebuilding. After failing that he declined to accept his reelection and resigned from office. Afterwards, Goerdeler assembled conservative politicians in opposition to Hitler. They developed a future constitution for Germany and even a list of potential ministers. However, Goerdeler was heavily criticised by other members of the German resistance (for example by some members of the Kreisau Circle) for objecting to killing Hitler, for his sympathy for reintroducing monarchy, and for his extremely anti-communist ideology. On July 17, 1944, a warrant for Goerdeler's arrest was issued. Goerdeler managed to escape but he was apprehended on August 12 of the same year after being denounced by an innkeeper. On September 9, after a trial at the Volksgerichtshof, he was sentenced to death. He was tortured for months by the Gestapo, which hoped to find out the names of other conspirators. He was finally executed on February 2, 1945 by decapitation at Ploetzensee Prison in Berlin."

Resistance: Escape attempt at Mauthausen concentration camp:

Mauthausen was a concentration camp and as such, it was against the 1929 Geneva Convention to hold Prisoners of War there, although the Russian POWs were technically in a separate section. According to the Geneva Convention, POWs were to be held in separate camps and treated according to the rules of the Convention. The Soviet Union had not signed the Geneva Convention of 1929, so the Nazis felt justified in violating the Convention with regard to them.

Resistance: Jesuit priest Alfred Delp: a convert to Catholicism, is hanged and his ashes scattered in the wind. (THP)

After the July 20 plot failed, a special Gestapo commission arrested and interrogated all known members of the Resistance. Delp was arrested in Munich on 28 July 1944 (eight days after Claus von Stauffenberg's attempt on Hitler's life), although he was not directly involved in the plot. He was transferred to Tegel Prison in Berlin. While in prison, he secretly began to say Mass and wrote letters, reflections on Advent, on Christmas, and other spiritual subjects, which were smuggled out of the prison before his trial. He was tried, together with Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, Franz Sperr, and Eugen Gerstenmaier, before the People's Court Volksgerichtshof on 9-11 January 1945, with Roland Freisler presiding. Alfred Delp, Helmuth von Moltke, and Franz Sperr were sentenced to death by hanging for high treason and treason. The court had dropped the charge against Delp of cognizance of the July 20 plot, but his dedication to the Kreisau Circle, his work as a Jesuit priest, and his Christian-social worldview were enough to seal his fate as a victim of the Nazi 'system of justice.

Resistance: Klaus Bonhoeffer is sentenced to death by the German People's Court:

Klaus Bonhoeffer, the older brother of Dietrich Boenhoffer, was born Breslau, Germany, in 1901. He studied as a lawyer and in 1936 was appointed head of the Lufthansa legal department. An opponent of Adolf Hitler, Bonhoeffer joined his brother-in-law, Hans Dohnanyi, Hans Oster and Ludwig Beck in attempting to overthrow the government in Nazi Germany. Bonhoeffer was arrested by the Gestapo and charged with being involved in the July Plot. Sentenced to death on 2nd February, 1945 but was held in captivity for over two months. Klaus Bonhoeffer was shot in Berlin as the Red Army approached the city on 23rd April, 1945.

Holocaust: Feb 2-3: A group of 1,000 Ukrainian Bandera supporters attack village of Czerwonogrod, shooting or burning to death 38 people including members of the Polish self-defense group. [See: The Last Days of the Third Reich.]

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Day 49.
Continuation of M. Edgar Faure's Presentation of the case regarding Germanization and persecution.
Testimony and cross examination of Jacobus Vorrink, a Dutch Senator, and President of the Socialist Party of the Netherlands.

Jacobus Vorrink:

The political situation in Holland after the invasion by the Germans was that first and foremost the German Army wanted to maintain public order in Holland. But the real Nazis immediately came with the Wehrmacht and tried to direct and organize public life in Holland according to their concepts. There were among the Germans three main categories. In the first place, there were those who believed in the "blood and soil" (Blut und Boden) theory. They wanted to win over the whole of the Dutch people to their National Socialist concepts. I must say that, in certain respects, this was our misfortune because these people, on the basis of their "blood and soil" theory, loved us too much and when that love was not reciprocated it turned to hate.

The second category consisted of the politically informed; and these people knew perfectly well that the Dutch National Socialists in Holland were only a very small and much hated group. At the elections of 1935 they received only 8 percent of the votes, and 2 years later this percentage had been reduced by one-half. These people were tactlessness itself. For instance, when the ruins of Rotterdam were still smoking, they saw fit to make a demonstration at which the leader of the Dutch National Socialists, Mussert, dedicated to Goering a new bell as a thank offering for what he had done for Holland. Fortunately, it did not prevent him from being defeated.

In the third place there were the so-called intriguers, those who wanted to destroy the national unity of Holland and who, first of all, tried through Seyss-Inquart to gain the favor of the Dutch people by flattery. In the same way as Seyss-Inquart, they always stressed that the two peoples were kindred races and should therefore work together, while behind the scenes they played off one Nazi group against the other. [For the full text of today's proceedings, Click here.]

1949 Cold War: United States rejects proposal for conference with Stalin:

In response to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's proposal that President Harry S. Truman travel to Russia for a conference, Secretary of State Dean Acheson brusquely rejects the idea as a "political maneuver." This rather curious exchange was further evidence of the diplomatic sparring between the United States and the Soviet Union that was so characteristic of the early years of the Cold War. [For further details, Click here.]

2004 Death: Alan Bullock—by now a Life Peer—British historian; first published his mediocre biography of Adolf Hitler, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, in 1952 and followed it decades later with his far superior book, Hitler and Stalin: A Study in Parallel Lives. [See: The Third Reich: What to Read?]

2005 Death: Max Schmeling: German boxer whose two fights with Joe Louis transcended boxing and became worldwide social events because of their racial and national associations. Despite his supposed associations with Nazism, used for propaganda to smear him as a Nazi villain, it became known long after the Second World War that Schmeling had risked his own life to save the lives of two Jewish children in 1938. He remains a sporting legend in Germany today, and he also helped his friend Joe Louis later in life.

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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