March 16

1802 U.S. Military Academy established:

The United States Military Academy—the first military school in the United States—is founded by Congress for the purpose of educating and training young men in the theory and practice of military science. Located at West Point, New York, the U.S. Military Academy is often simply known as West Point. [For further details, Click here.]

1866 Schleswig-Holstein: The Austrian Government announces that it should refer the affairs of Schleswig-Holstein to the Federal Diet. Bismarck considers this a violation of the Gastein Convention. (Friedjung) [See: Austria: The Other Germany.]

1878 Birth: Clemens August: the late bishop of Muenster . . . .  who courted death by preaching openly from the pulpit against the Nazis' euthanasia program during the darkest days of the Third Reich . . . . [He] incurred the rage of Hitler and his cohorts with courageous denunciations during World War II of the secret policy of taking mentally handicapped victims into custody and putting them to death . . . . 

When Clemens August preached against the Nazis' euthanasia program, worshippers had secretly noted down his sermons, and the anti-Nazi resistance smuggled them abroad. They were later broadcast to Germany by the German service of the BBC.

Later evidence quoted by historians revealed that an enraged Hitler wanted Galen hanged, but that propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels warned this could lead to alienation among sections of the local Catholic population among whom Galen was highly popular. Hitler was then reported to have said he would "settle the score" with Galen after the war.

"The Lion of Muenster," as he came to be known, survived the war but only briefly. He was born in 1878, the child of aristocrats, ordained as a Catholic priest in 1904, and became head of the Muenster diocese in 1933, the year the Nazis came to power. Shortly before his death in 1946 the then Pope elevated him to the rank of cardinal.

1896 Birth: Otto Hofmann: Austrian SS-Gruppenfuehrer and an official of Nazi Germany's Race and Settlement Main Office. From 1940-43 Hofmann will be head of the RuSHA (Rasse und Siedlungshauptamt—the Race and Settlement Main Office) within the SS. In this capacity he will take part in the Wannsee Conference, in which members of the Nazi hierarchy will discuss policies which are later enacted and lead, in part, to the Holocaust.

1902 Alliances: In response to the British-Japanese alliance, Russia signs an alliance with France. The United States and China are strongly opposed to the move. In the event, France will be unable to come to Russia's aid in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 because of this Anglo-Japanese alliance. (Kajima)

[See: Countdown to Infamy: Timeline to Pearl Harbor.]

1911 Birth: Josef Mengele . . . the eldest of three sons of Karl and Walburga Mengele. Josef was refined, intelligent and popular in his town. He studied philosophy at Munich and medicine at Frankfurt University. In 1935 his dissertation dealt with racial differences in the structure of the lower jaw.

In 1937 he joined the Nazi party, then in 1938 he went to the SS. In 1942 he was wounded at the Russian front and was pronounced unfit for duty. After that he volunteered to go to the concentration camp, he was sent to the death camp, Auschwitz.

Dr. Josef Mengele, nicknamed "the Angel of Death", became the surviving symbol of Adolf Hitler's "Final Solution". Mengele was always immaculately prepared for the long-drawn-out rituals of death, the hellish selections which the young SS doctor so regularly attended during his twenty-one months at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Josef Mengele was the chief provider for the gas chambers and their crematoria: and did well! "He had a look that said 'I am the power,'" said one survivor. When it was reported that one block was infected with lice, Mengele solved the problem by gassing all the 750 women assigned to it. At the time, Mengele was only thirty-two years old.

The Angel of Death fed his legend by dramatizing murderous policies, such as his drawing a line on the wall of the children's block between 150 and 156 centimeters (about 5 feet or 5 feet 2 inches) from the floor. Then sending those whose heads could not reach the line to the gas chamber. (Lifton, p. 346.)

The memory of this slightly built man, scarcely a hair out of place, his dark green tunic neatly pressed, his face well scrubbed, his Death's Head SS cap tilted rakishly to one side, remains vivid for those who survived his scrutiny when they arrived at the Auschwitz railhead. Polished boots slightly apart, his thumb resting on his pistol belt, he surveyed his prey with those dead gimlet eyes. Death to the left, life to the right. Four hundred thousand souls: babies, small children, young girls, mothers, fathers, and grandparents, are said to have been casually waved to the lefthand side with a flick of the cane clasped in a gloved hand.

When a mother did not want to be separated from her thirteen-year-old daughter, and bit and scratched the face of the SS man who tried to force her to her assigned line, Mengele drew his gun and shot both the woman and the child. As a blanket punishment, he then sent to the gas all people from that transport who had previously been selected for work, with the comment: "Away with this shit!" (Lifton)

There were moments when his death mask gave way to a more animated expression, when Mengele came alive.There was excitement in his eyes, a tender touch in his hands. This was the moment when Josef Mengele, the geneticist, found a pair of twins. Mengele was almost fanatical about drawing blood from twins, mostly identical twins. He is reported to have bled some to death this way.

Once Mengele's assistant rounded up 14 pairs of Gypsy twins during the night. Mengele supervised how they were placed on his polished marble dissection table and put to sleep. The assistant then proceeded to inject chloroform into their hearts, killing them instantaneously. He then began dissecting and meticulously noting each and every piece of the twins' bodies.

Twins undergoing his experiments didn't know what the objectives were. It is known that he had a special pathology lab where he performed autopsies on twins who had died from experiments. It was located next to the cremetorium.

Mengele injected chemicals into the eyes of children in an attempt to change their eye color. He experimented both physical and psychological; experimental surgeries performed without anesthesia, transfusions of blood from one twin to another, isolation endurance, reaction to various stimuli. He made injections with lethal germs, sex change operations, the removal of organs and limbs, incestuous impregnations.

The book Children of the Flames chronicles the notorious medical experimental activities of Josef Mengele on approximately three thousand twins who passed through the Auschwitz death camp during WWII until its liberation at the end of the war. Unfortunately, a strict veil of secrecy over the experiments enabled Mengele to do his work more effectively.

Only a few of the three thousand twins survived and now fifty years later they have told their story of how they were given special privileges in Auschwitz due to Mengele's interest in twins. How as a result they have suffered during the past fifty years as the children who survived the still unknown and unexplained medical experiments and injections which they were subjected to at the hands of Josef Mengele.

The survivors tell how as children in Auschwitz they were visited by a smiling "Uncle Mengele" who brought them candy and clothes. Then he had them delivered to his medical laboratory either in trucks painted with the Red Cross emblem or in his own personal car to undergo his experiments.

One twin recalls the death of his brother: "Dr. Mengele had always been more interested in Tibi. I am not sure why - perhaps because he was the older twin. Mengele made several operations on Tibi. One surgery on his spine left my brother paralyzed. He could not walk anymore. Then they took out his sexual organs. After the fourth operation, I did not see Tibi anymore. I cannot tell you how I felt. It is impossible to put into words how I felt. They had taken away my father, my mother, my two older brothers, and now, my twin."

The full extent of his gruesome work will never be known because the records he sent to his mentor, Dr. Von Verschuer at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, were shipped out in two truckloads and destroyed by the latter. Any remaining notes Mengele carried with him on his escape to South America and those were never found.

1916 World War I: German Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz resigns:

Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the man largely responsible for the buildup of the German navy in the years before World War I and the aggressive naval strategy pursued by Germany during the first two years of the war, tenders his resignation to Kaiser Wilhelm II, who‑-somewhat to Tirpitz's surprise‑-accepts it.

Tirpitz began his close working relationship with the Kaiser in 1897, when he was appointed secretary of state of the Imperial Navy Department. A year later, Tirpitz introduced the First Fleet Act, which marked the beginning of a significant reorganization and buildup of the German navy. The Second Fleet Act in 1900 was far more ambitious, setting a deadline of 17 years to construct a fleet of two flagships, 36 battleships, eleven large cruisers and 34 smaller ones: a fleet that would challenge even that of the peerless British Royal Navy.

By 1905, German naval strength had exceeded that of both France and Russia and was on its way‑-though it had a long way to go‑-towards its goal of becoming a genuine rival for the Royal Navy. This fact worried Britain and its First Sea Lord Jackie Fisher, who in 1906 presided over the launch of the immense and innovative new battleship HMS Dreadnought, which would become the symbol of the German-British arms race in the years leading up to World War I.

In 1911, Tirpitz was promoted to the rank of grand admiral; three years later, with the outbreak of the war, he was made commander of the entire German navy. Despite its push during the preceding decade, Germany was only able to muster 18 battleships and battle cruisers at the start of World War I, compared with 29 similar British crafts. Understandably pessimistic about Germany's chances against Britain at sea, Tirpitz recognized that the deadly German U-boat submarine was his navy's most effective weapon; he thus advocated an aggressive policy of submarine warfare, announced by the kaiser in February 1915, whereby neutral as well as enemy ships were vulnerable to attack by German submarines if they entered the war zone of the North Sea between Germany and Britain.

After a number of such attacks, culminating with the May 7, 1915, sinking of the British passenger ship Lusitania—in which 1,201 people, including 128 Americans drowned—the German government moved to limit the policy of unrestricted submarine warfare to avoid antagonizing neutral countries, notably the United States. By the fall of 1915, Tirpitz and other naval leaders were so constrained that they suspended the policy altogether. (It would be reinstituted in February 1917, prompting the United States to break diplomatic relations with Germany and move towards entry into the war on the side of the Allies.)

In the midst of the international indignation surrounding the policy he had fathered, Tirpitz steadily found himself alienated from the rest of the German war command, including his former champion, the Kaiser. On March 16, 1916, when Tirpitz offered his resignation, Wilhelm accepted, and the admiral stepped down from his post. (

1916 World War I: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler endures trench warfare in Flanders (Artois) with 3 Company, 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment [List Regiment]. [For further details, Click here.]

1917 Various:

February Revolution: Grand Duke Michael—brother of former Czar Nicholas II who had abdicated the day before—refuses to take the Russian throne; the provisional government under Prince Georgi Lvov then formally takes office. The 300-year-old Romanov dynasty comes to an end.

World War I: Manchester Guardian Newspaper on the Fall of Baghdad:

Our vanguard entered Baghdad soon after nine o'clock this morning.The city is approached by an unmetalled road between palm groves and orange gardens. Crowds of Baghdadis came out to meet us: Persians, Krabe, Jews, Armenians, Chaldeans and Christians of diverse sects and races.They lined the streets, balconies and roofs, hurrahing and clapping their hands.Groups of schoolchildren danced in front of us, shouting and cheering, and the women of the city turned out in their holiday dresses. The people of the city have been robbed to supply the Turkish army for the last two years.The oppression was becoming unendurable, and during the last week it degenerated into brigandage.I am told that the mere mention of the British was punishable, and the people were afraid to talk freely about the war.

1920 Birth: Traudl Junge: Hitler's secretary:

Junge was one of Adolf Hitler's secretaries. She took down his last will and testament. She was in his bunker when he committed suicide in 1945 . . . . 

Junge insisted that Hitler and other Nazi leaders "practically never mentioned the word Jew" in her presence, even though it was while she was working for the Fuehrer that his regime killed most of the 6m Jews who died in the Holocaust. She said she only found out about the Holocaust after the war, and then felt wracked with guilt for having liked "the greatest criminal who ever lived".

Among those who scorned her claims were staff at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. After Heller's film was screened in Berlin, Efraim Zuroff, director of the centre's office in Israel, said: "Her story reflects the blind loyalty of far too many Germans whose allegiance to Hitler and the Nazi party enabled the implementation of the final solution."

Junge was born Gertraud Humps in Munich. She had wanted to be a ballet dancer, but when she heard of a vacancy in the Chancellery, she played up her typing and shorthand skills to land the job. "I thought I would be at the source of all information. But I was really in a blind spot," she said in the documentary.

In December 1942, she became the youngest of the Nazi dictator's personal secretaries. "He was a pleasant older man who welcomed us with real friendliness," she said of their first meeting. Among her recollections of the Fuehrer was that he did not like cut flowers because, he said, he did not want to be "surrounded by corpses".

In 1943, she married one of Hitler's aides, Hans Junge. He was killed a year later when a British plane strafed his company in Normandy. The young widow joined Hitler and his staff when they moved into an underground bunker in Berlin in January 1945. She recalled Hitler sitting for long periods of time, just staring into the distance. Meals were no longer served regularly, and people even began to smoke in the Fuehrer's presence. "It was a terrible time. I can't really remember my feelings. We were all in a state of shock, like machines," she said.

After the war, Junge was taken into custody by the Red Army, then the Americans. After being interrogated and spending about six months in prison, she was released. She continued to work in Germany as a secretary, and later as a science reporter.

1924 The free port of Fiume is formally annexed by Italy.

1926 First liquid-fueled rocket:

The first man to give hope to dreams of space travel is American Robert H. Goddard, who successfully launches the world's first liquid-fueled rocket at Auburn, Massachusetts, on March 16, 1926. The rocket traveled for 2.5 seconds at a speed of about 60 mph, reaching an altitude of 41 feet and landing 184 feet away. The rocket was 10 feet tall, constructed out of thin pipes, and was fueled by liquid oxygen and gasoline. [For further information, click here and see also: Wunderwaffen: Hitler's Deception and the History of Rocketry.]

1933 Hjalmar Schacht is appointed president of the Reichsbank. [See: Did Hitler's Leadership Save the German Economy?]

1935 Re-armament: Adolf Hitler's Germany reintroduces compulsory military service to form the Wehrmacht, and repudiates the disarmament clauses of the Versailles Treaty. The democracies do not react, and Britain will soon conclude a naval agreement with Germany that permits greater German naval strength than allowed by Versailles. (See June 18) (THP) 1938 Various:

Anschluss: Adolf Eichmann begins his endevours in Austria:

From Eichmann In My Hands by Peter Z. Malkin & Harry Stein:

It was only with the Anschluss, the German annexation of Austria in March 1938, that Eichmann emerged from the bureaucratc shadows. Four days after German storm troopers marched into Austria, the thirty-two-year-old SS man appeared in Vienna, assigned to render his former country judenrein, literally, "Jew-free." Within days he had devised a program of action: a combination of calculated brutality and brazen duplicity. First he moved to have the Gestapo terrorize the capital's Jewish population, numbering 183,000. Men and women were dragged from their homes and shops and viciously beaten; rabbis were seized, their heads shorn before jeering mobs; synagogues were razed, Jewish property seized or destroyed. In a couple of weeks, more than a thousand Jews were murdered; dozens of others took their own lives. Then it suddenly stopped. Eichmann, the very picture of reason, now offered the council of Jewish leaders he had assembled his assurance that, if the Jews would only trust him and cooperate, conditions would improve. Indeed, he actually managed to persuade some of his victims of his sympathy for their plight. On one occasion he astomished a roomful of Jewsish functionaries by reciting by heart a page from a contemporary volume on the history of Zionism.

Eichmann began meeting regularly with highly placed Jewish officials, setting up a system that accomplished several Nazi ends simultaneously. Still more than a year before the outgreak of war, the Nazi aim in Austria was not annihilation but expulsion. Granted limited administration over their own affairs, but with all funds in the community frozen and the SS otherwise overseeing financial matters, the desperate Jews were thus made to cooperate in their own undoing. The final stage of Eichmann's process ensured that no one escaped before being robbed, not just of his property, but of his self-respect.

Lithuania: As most of Europe is preoccupied with the German absorption of Austria, the Polish government issues a series of demands to the Lithuanians. Faced with the threat of war, the Lithuanian government immediately agrees to all of the Polish demands, including recognition of the status quo in eastern Europe. The Lithuanian capitulation prevents the crisis from escalating.

1940 World War II: From the diary of Hans Frank:

The Governor General remarks that he had long negotiations in Berlin the representatives of the Reich Ministry for Finance and the Reich Ministry for Food. Urgent demands have been made there that Polish farm workers should be sent to the Reich in greater numbers. He has made the statement in Berlin that he, if it is demanded from him, could of course exercise force in some such manner: he could have the police surround a village and get the men and women in question out by force, and then send them to Germany. But one can also work differently, besides these police measures, by retaining the unemployment compensation of these workers in question.

1941 World War II: Various:

Balkans: German troops are reported massed in the Balkans, especially along the Yugoslav frontiers. [See: What Were Adolf Hitler's Major Blunders?]

Hitler gives a memorial address at the Zeughaus in Berlin:

But if the German people in the year 1941 honors its heroes, it does so at a time and under circumstances that give it a right to hold up its head with pride, as it pays tribute to men of the near and distant past who sacrificed their lives for the State. [For the full text of Hitler's address, Click here.]

1942 World War II: Various:

FDR to Stalin: "I want to take this opportunity to assure you again that we are going to bend every possible effort to move these supplies to your battle lines. The determination of your armies and people to defeat Hitlerism is an inspiration to the free people of all the world."

Wunderwaffen: The first V-2 rocket test launch explodes at liftoff. [See: Where Would We Be Without Hitler's Scientists?]

1943 World War II: Stalin to FDR:

Anglo-American operations in North Africa, far from being accelerated, are being postponed till the end of April; indeed, even this date is given in rather vague terms. In other words, at the height of the fighting against Hitler's troops‑-in February and March‑-the Anglo-American offensive in North Africa, far from being stepped up, had been called off altogether, and the time fixed for it has been set back. Meanwhile, Germany has succeeded in moving from the West 36 divisions, including six armored, to be used against the Soviet troops. The difficulties that this has created for the Soviet Army and the extent to which it has eased the German position on the Soviet-German front will be readily appreciated.

Mr. Churchill had also informed me that the Anglo-American operation against Sicily is planned for June. For all its importance that operation can by no means replace a second front in France. But I fully welcome, of course, your intention to expedite the carrying out of this operation. At the same time I consider it my duty to state that the early opening of a second front in France is the most important thing. You will recall that you and Mr. Churchill thought it possible to open a second front as early as 1942 or this spring at the latest. The grounds for doing so were weighty enough. Hence it should be obvious why I stressed in my message of February 16 the need for striking in the West not later than this spring or early summer.

The Soviet troops have fought strenuously all winter and are continuing to do so, while Hitler is taking important measures to rehabilitate and reinforce his Army for the spring and summer operations against the USSR; it is therefore particularly essential for us that the blow from the West be no longer delayed, that it be delivered this spring or early summer. I appreciate the considerable difficulties caused by a shortage of transport facilities, of which you advised me in your message. Nevertheless, I think I must give a most emphatic warning, in the interest of our common cause, of the grave danger with which further delay in opening a second front in France is fraught. That is why the vagueness of both your reply and Mr. Churchill's as to the opening of a second front in France causes me concern, which I cannot help expressing. [See: Why Was Churchill Against the D-Day Invasion?]

1945 World War II: Various:

Fighting on Iwo Jima ends: On this day, the west Pacific volcanic island of Iwo Jima is declared secured by the U.S. military after months of fiercely fighting its Japanese defenders.

The Americans began applying pressure to the Japanese defense of Iwo Jima in February 1944, when B-24 and B-25 bombers raided the island for 74 days straight. It was the longest pre-invasion bombardment of the war, necessary because of the extent to which the Japanese‑-21,000 strong‑-fortified the island, above and below ground, including a network of caves. Underwater demolition teams ("frogmen") were dispatched by the Americans just before the actual invasion to clear the shores of mines and any other obstacles that could obstruct an invading force. In fact, the Japanese mistook the frogmen for an invasion force and killed 170 of them.

The amphibious landings of Marines began the morning of February 19, 1945, as the secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, accompanied by journalists, surveyed the scene from a command ship offshore. The Marines made their way onto the island—and seven Japanese battalions opened fire, obliterating them. By that evening, more than 550 Marines were dead and more than 1,800 were wounded.

In the face of such fierce counterattack, the Americans reconciled themselves to the fact that Iwo Jima could be taken only one yard at a time. A key position on the island was Mt. Suribachi, the center of the Japanese defense. The 28th Marine Regiment closed in and around the base of the volcanic mountain at the rate of 400 yards per day, employing flamethrowers, grenades, and demolition charges against the Japanese that were hidden in caves and pillboxes (low concrete emplacements for machine-gun nests). Approximately 40 Marines finally began a climb up the volcanic ash mountain, which was smoking from the constant bombardment, and at 10 a.m. on February 23, a half-dozen Marines raised an American flag at its peak, using a pipe as a flag post. Two photographers caught a restaging of the flag raising for posterity, creating one of the most reproduced images of the war. With Mt. Suribachi claimed, one-third of Iwo Jima was under American control.

On March 16, with a U.S. Navy military government established, Iwo Jima was declared secured and the fighting over. When all was done, more than 6,000 Marines died fighting for the island, along with almost all the 21,000 Japanese soldiers trying to defend it. (

FDR to Churchill:

I cannot but be concerned at the views you expressed in your message of the 13th. I do not understand what you mean by a divergence between our Governments on the Polish negotiations. From our side there is certainly no evidence of any divergence of policy. We have merely been discussing the most effective tactics and I cannot agree that we are confronted with a breakdown of the Yalta agreement until we have made every effort to overcome the obstacles incurred in the negotiations at Moscow. [See: Did Adolf Hitler Cause the Cold War?]

Churchill to FDR:

I am most relieved that you do not feel that there is any fundamental divergence between us, and I agree that our differences are only about tactics. You know, I am sure, that our great desire is to keep in step with you, and we realize how hopeless the position would become for Poland if it were ever seen that we were not in full accord. At present all entry into Poland is barred to our representatives. An impenetrable veil has been drawn across the scene. This extends even to the liaison officers, British and American, who were to help in bringing out our rescued prisoners of war. According to our information, the American officers as well as the British who had reached Lublin have been requested to clear out. There is no doubt in my mind that the Soviets fear very much our seeing what is going on in Poland. It may be that, apart from the Poles, they are being very rough with the Germans. Whatever the reason, we are not allowed to see it. This is not a position that could be defended by us.

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Hermann Goering continues his testimony:

With the dynamic personality of the Fuehrer, unsolicited advice was not in order, and one had to be on very good terms with him. That is to say, one had to have great influence, as I had ‑-and I ask you to understand me correctly‑-as I had beyond doubt for many years, in order to come to him unsolicited, not only with advice, but also with suggestions or even persistent contradictions. On the other hand, if one were not on these terms with the Fuehrer, suggestions and advice were curtly brushed aside whenever he had once made his decisions, or if he would not allow the would-be adviser to attain that influence or that influential position. Here I wish to say that the Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces, in important and decisive questions certainly was no adviser. In current, everyday affairs, he was an adviser insofar as he may have suggested to the Fuehrer here and there that this or that should be said to the commanders, or that in regard to the movement of troops this or that should be pointed out. After all, advice from the chief of a general staff is still more important than advice from the chief of an organization or a state office. It was this way: In the sphere of important strategic and tactical decisions the chief responsibility lay with the adviser on the General Staff, the commanders-in-chief, the Chief of Staff, and the Fuehrer; in matters of pure strategy and tactics, more with the chief of the Armed Forces Operations Staff; organizational questions or current developments of the day, with the Chief of the High Command. Because the Fuehrer himself, as I said before, held several of the highest offices, he had to limit his signatures. It often took weeks until one could obtain the necessary signature from the Fuehrer. [For the full text of today's proceedings, Click here.]

From the notes of the Nuremberg Prison psychologist—Dr. Gilbert:

Von Schirach was very pleased with his hero [Goering]. He thought it would be political madness to sentence him, because he was so popular, even in America, 'and now you can see why he was so popular.' He thought that Ribbentrop was far more guilty for the war.

1955 Poland: British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill today reacts angrily to claims made by American Right-wing politicians' that he had not fought Soviet leader Josef Stalin hard enough to secure Poland's independence during the 1945 Yalta Conference at which the US, Soviet and British war leaders determined the future shape of the post-World War II world.

1964 Spandau Prison: From Spandau: The Secret Diaries, by Albert Speer:

[Rudolf] Hess has listed several hundred titles of books he would like to have . . . . His interests center . . . in particular on the ills of civilization. He has long been pursuing the connections between such phenomena and liberal democracy. Again and again he comes to me with examples of over-consumption in the United States. He happily reports of misguided investments in the market economy, collects examples of land speculation, criminality, bad posture in children, and health damage caused by canned foods. Out of frequently ridiculous and atypical items he is putting together his vision of doom, against the background of which he will presumably see arising, one of these days, the figure of the savior once more. (Speer II)

[See: Was Rudolf Hess 'Crazy'?]

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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