October 16

1868 Birth: Franz Ritter von Epp: Bavarian Colonel in World War I. After the war, Epp will organize the counterrevolutionary Free Corps and "liberate" Munich from the "Reds." Will join Nazi party in 1928. Reich governor of Bavaria in 1933. Promoted to the rank of general in 1935. Will be among Hitler's critics inside the party. Shortly before the end of the war, Epp will attempt an uprising against the NSDAP in Bavaria.

1886 Birth: David Ben-Gurion (orse. David Green): Israeli statesman; first prime minister and secretary of defense (1948-53, 1955-63). Died Dec 1 1973.

1914 List Regiment Oct 11 - 20): Infantry Recruit Adolf Hitler's 1st Company, 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry, train at Lechfeld, at the confluence of the Lech and the Danube, seventy miles west of Munich. [For further details, Click here.]

1915 World War I - List Regiment (Oct 4, 1915 - Feb 29, 1916): Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's serves with 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment at Fromelles. [For further details, Click here.]

1916 World War I: British soldier Henry Farr executed for cowardice: At dawn on October 16, 1916, Private Henry Farr of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) is executed for cowardice after he refused to go forward into the front-line trenches on the Western Front during World War I. [For further details, Click here]

1916 List Regiment (Oct 9 - Dec 3): Hitler, who had been fighting almost continuously for two years, finds himself on a hospital train headed for a Red Cross hospital in Beelitz, near Berlin. While his wound is serious, he will recover quickly, and will later write Balthaser Brandmayer: "Am suffering from hunger-induced typhus because I cannot eat bread; additionally I am adamantly denied any sort of jam." [For further details, Click here.]

1917 World War I (Sep 30-Oct 17): Hitler takes an eighteen-day furlough to accompany Schmidt [above] on a visit to his sister in Dresden with him. After sightseeing stops at Brussels and Cologne, they hit Leipzig, a city Hitler especially enjoys. He is impressed by the 300-foot tall monument, Battle of the Nations, honoring the war-dead of 1812. "This has nothing to do with art," he tells Schmidt (above), "but it is enormous and beautiful." After spending some time with Schmidt in Dresden, Hitler goes off by himself to Berlin to spend a few days with yet another front-line comrade. In a postcard to Schmidt, he writes: "The city is marvelous. A real world capital. Traffic is still tremendous. Am gone almost all day. Now finally have opportunity to study the museums a little better. In short: there is nothing lacking." [For further details, Click here.]

1918 World War I (Oct 15 - Nov 10): Gefreiter Adolf Hitler, blinded in a gas attack near Werwick on Oct 14, recovers in the Prussian Reserve Hospital at Pasewalk near Berlin. The doctors at this army hospital, on the cutting edge of medical treatments for gassed soldiers, provide Hitler with very good care, and his sight slowly and painfully begins to return to him over these few weeks. Hitler falls into a deep depression. After over four years on the front lines, his fighting days are over. In four years of war, the List Regiment has lost 3,754 dead, 8,795 wounded, with 678 taken prisoner. This is somewhat above the average for the German Armed Forces as a whole. [For further details, Click here.]

[See: Was Adolf Hitler a 'War Hero' in WW1?]

1918 World War I: Allenby and his Desert Mounted Corps—spearheading the advance—reach Homs.

1919 Weimar: A speech by Hitler at the Hofbrauhauskeller in Munich marks the beginning of his political career:

I spoke for thirty minutes, and what before I had simply felt within me, without in any way knowing it, was now proved by reality: I could speak After thirty minutes the people in the small room were electrified and the enthusiasm was first expressed by the fact that my appeal to the self-sacrifice of those present led to the donation of three hundred marks. This relieved us of a great worry. For at this time the financial stringency was so great that we were not even in a position to have slogans printed for the movement, or even distribute leaflets. Now the foundation was laid for a little fund from which at least our barest needs and most urgent necessities could be defrayed. But in another respect as well, the success of this first larger meeting was considerable.

1925 Treaty of Locarno between France and Poland:

In the event of Poland or France suffering from a failure to observe undertakings arrived at this day between them and Germany, with a view to the maintenance of general peace, France and, reciprocally, Poland, acting in application of Article 16 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, undertake to lend each other immediate aid and assistance, if such a failure is accompanied by an unprovoked recourse to arms.

1933 Romania: Stephen Tatarescu and others establish the pro-Nazi Christian-Fascist Party in Bucharest.

1934 Various:

Volkishness: Karl Maria Weisthor (Wiligut) is appointed head of Section VIII (Archives) at the SS Race and Resettlement Main Office in Munich:

Himmler went further and brought in the 66-year old Austrian Karl Maria Wiligut to his staff, with the purpose of exploiting his psychic abilities. After a career in the Austrian army, Wiligut would function as an advisor regarding mythological issues and partake in archeological investigations. He had achieved a certain position within occult circles with his claim to be the last survivor of an ancient Germanic family with roots reaching back to the oldest times. Because of this, and thanks to his spiritual abilities, Wiligut could, according to himself, recreate the glorious history of the Germanic people thousands of years back in time. The appointment was apparently a bit hush-hush, for Wiligut was hired as SS-Haupsturmfuehrer under the pseudonym Karl Maria Weisthor.

A letter from Wewelsburg commandant Manfred von Knobelsdorff to Karl Maria Weisthor (Wiligut) closes with the expression "in Irminist loyalty." Irminism has been the religion of Weisthor since long before he left Austria and joined the SS. (THP)

Holocaust: The tax free status of all Jewish religious institutions in Germany is canceled.

1934 The Long March:

The embattled Chinese Communists break through Nationalist enemy lines and begin an epic flight from their encircled headquarters in southwest China. Known as Ch'ang Cheng-the "Long March"-the retreat lasted 368 days and covered 6,000 miles, nearly twice the distance from New York to San Francisco.

Civil war in China between the Nationalists and the Communists broke out in 1927. In 1931, Communist leader Mao Zedong was elected chairman of the newly established Soviet Republic of China, based in Kiangsi province in the southwest. Between 1930 and 1934, the Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek launched a series of five encirclement campaigns against the Soviet Republic. Under the leadership of Mao, the Communists employed guerrilla tactics to resist successfully the first four campaigns, but in the fifth, Chiang raised 700,000 troops and built fortifications around the Communist positions. Hundreds of thousands of peasants were killed or died of starvation in the siege, and Mao was removed as chairman by the Communist Central Committee. The new Communist leadership employed more conventional warfare tactics, and its Red Army was decimated.

With defeat imminent, the Communists decided to break out of the encirclement at its weakest points. The Long March began at 5:00 p.m. on October 16, 1934. Secrecy and rear-guard actions confused the Nationalists, and it was several weeks before they realized that the main body of the Red Army had fled. The retreating force initially consisted of 86,000 troops, 15,000 personnel, and 35 women. Weapons and supplies were borne on men's backs or in horse-drawn carts, and the line of marchers stretched for 50 miles. The Communists generally marched at night, and when the enemy was not near, a long column of torches could be seen snaking over valleys and hills into the distance.

The first disaster came in November, when Nationalist forces blocked the Communists' route across the Hsiang River. It took a week for the Communists to break through the fortifications and cost them 50,000 men—more than half their number. After that debacle, Mao steadily regained his influence, and in January he was again made chairman during a meeting of the party leaders in the captured city of Tsuni. Mao changed strategy, breaking his force into several columns that would take varying paths to confuse the enemy. There would be no more direct assaults on enemy positions. And the destination would now be Shensi Province, in the far northwest, where the Communists hoped to fight the Japanese invaders and earn the respect of China's masses.

After enduring starvation, aerial bombardment, and almost daily skirmishes with Nationalist forces, Mao halted his columns at the foot of the Great Wall of China on October 20, 1935. Waiting for them were five machine-gun- and red-flag-bearing horsemen. "Welcome, Chairman Mao," one said. "We represent the Provincial Soviet of Northern Shensi. We have been waiting for you anxiously. All that we have is at your disposal!" The Long March was over.

The Communist marchers crossed 24 rivers and 18 mountain ranges, mostly snow-capped. Only 4,000 troops completed the journey. The majority of those who did not perished. It was the longest continuous march in the history of warfare and marked the emergence of Mao Zedong as the undisputed leader of the Chinese Communists. Learning of the Communists' heroism and determination in the Long March, thousands of young Chinese traveled to Shensi to enlist in Mao's Red Army. After fighting the Japanese for a decade, the Chinese Civil War resumed in 1945. Four years later, the Nationalists were defeated, and Mao proclaimed the People's Republic of China. He served as chairman until his death in 1976. (History.com)

1937 Various:

The Hungarian National Socialist Party is founded:

During World War II Hungary fought alongside with the axis, under the leadership of the Admiral, Miklos Horthy, that was a mid-temper Hungarian nationalist. A fair solution would come then for the Carpathian region. Hungary would take the places where Hungarians lived and Romania would keep the rest. As the war turned however Horthy became unfaithful to the axis. This together with sheltering a lot of Jews from being sent to the concentration camps, caused his fall. A fully pro-German commander would take over. This commander was Szallasi. He would replace the elected -anyway National Socialist- government with his own. The arrow/cross party was in command. Its headquarters were found at Andrassy Ut. 60 were later on the Stalinist torture rooms would base themselves. During the 2nd WW Hungary gave to the axis full support, attacked Russia on its own and provided enough men to form four (4) SS divisions that fought in the eastern front.

Sudetenland: Party leader Konrad Henlein demands that ethnic Germans receive autonomy, as police in Czechoslovakia disrupt a Sudeten German Party rally at Teplitz.

1939 World War II: Various:

Poland: All Poles are ordered to leave the city of Gdynia; similar mass expulsions occur in areas annexed by Germany.

Church and Reich: Rarkowski, bishop of the German army, declares in a pastoral letter that "the Almighty God had visibly blessed the struggle against Poland that has been forced upon us." Note: The average German soldier has no way of knowing for sure whether Poland had indeed mistreated its German minority, or fired the first shots as claimed by Hitler. (THP)

1940 Holocaust: The Warsaw Ghetto is established:

Western leaders were informed about the plight of the Jews under the German occupation. The most complete information was transmitted by Jan Karski, a secret courier who traveled across German-conquered Europe between the Polish Underground Organization in Poland and the Polish Government in Exile in London. In October 1942, before his departure to London and at a considerable risk to his life, Karski was smuggled twice in and out of both the Warsaw Ghetto and the Belzec extermination camp in order to obtain firsthand information. Karski related what he had seen when he met with Polish, Jewish, British and American representatives in London and Washington, including President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Requests from Jewish leaders to bomb Germany as retribution for the extermination of Jews came to naught.

1941 World War II: Various:

France: Edouard Daladier, Paul Reynaud and Leon Blum, all former prime ministers of France, are arrested by order of General Petain to face charges that they were responsible for the French defeat of 1940.

Barbarossa: Following the evacuation of the Soviet government and diplomatic corps from Moscow to Kuibyshev, panic begins to spread among the civilian population, and thousands flee the city to places further east. Odessa is taken by Romanian troops after some of the bloodiest fighting on the Eastern Front.

Countdown to Infamy: Tokyo (Toyoda) to Washington:

Although I have been requested by both the German and Italian Ambassadors in Tokyo to give to give them additional information on the Japanese-American negotiations, I have, in consideration of the nature of the negotiations, been declining to do so. However, early this month, following the German attacks on American merchant ships and the consequent (revival?) of the movement for the revision of the Neutrality Act, the German authorities demanded that the Japanese Government submit to the American Government a message to the effect that the Japanese Government observes that if the ROOSEVELT Administration continues to attack the Axis Powers increasingly, a belligerent situation would inevitably arise between Germany and Italy on the one hand and the United States on the other.

[See: Did Hitler Have Foreknowledge of Pearl Harbor?]

From The Glory and The Dream by William Manchester:

Until Christmas they (the Japanese) could count on a trickle of petroleum from private sources, Anglo-American companies with storage tanks on neutral soil. But every day counted now. Konoye submitted his government's demands to Grew: if the United States would stop arming Chiang Kai-sheik, stop building new fortifications in the Pacific, and help the emperor's search for raw materials and markets, Konoye promised not to use Indochina as a base, to withdraw from China after the incident there had been 'settled, and to 'guarantee' the neutrality of the Philippines. Grew warned Washington that there were worse men around the throne than Konoye; humble him, and one of them would replace him.

Unimpressed, Hull sent back an ultimatum: Japan must withdrawal troops from China and Indochina, denounce the Tripartite Pact, and sign a non-aggression pact with neighboring countries. Hull seemed to feel that the United States could treat the Japanese in any way it chose. As far as politics was concerned, he could. If such an ultimatum had been sent to Berlin, there would have been America First rallies all over the country and impeachment proceedings on the Hill. But Grew had been right; Konoye stepped down on October 16 and was succeeded by General Hideki Tojo, the fiercest hawk in the Orient. The embargoed Japanese now believed that they had no choice. They had to go to war, unless they left China, which was unthinkable. They began sharpening samurai swords.

[See: Did FDR Have Foreknowledge of Pearl Harbor?]

Chief of Naval Operations to Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet:

Japanese Cabinet resignation creates a grave situation. If a new cabinet is formed it probably will be anti-American and strongly nationalistic. If the Konoye Cabinet remains it will operate under a new mandate which will not include rapprochement with the United States. Either way hostilities between Japan and Russia are strongly possible. Since Britain and the United States are held responsible by Japan for their present situation, there is also a possibility that Japan may attack these two powers. In view of these possibilities you will take due precautions, including such preparatory deployments as will not disclose strategic intention nor constitute provocative action against Japan.

Army militant Tojo replaces Konoye as Japanese Prime Minister.

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

1942 World War II: Various:

FDR to Stalin:

I am glad to inform you, in response to your request, that the items involved can be made available for shipment as follows" Wheat; two million short tons during the remainder of the protocol year at approximately equal monthly rates. Trucks; 8,000 to 10,000 per month. Explosives; 4,000 short tons in November and 5,000 tons per month thereafter. Meat; 15,000 tons per month. Canned Meat; 10,000 tons per month. Lard; 12,000 tons per month. Soap Stock; 5,000 tons per month. Vegetable Oil; 10,000 tons per month. I will advise you at an early date of the aluminum shipments which I am exploring. I have given orders that no effort be spared to keep our routes fully supplied with ships and cargo in conformity with your desires as to priorities on our commitments to you.

Poland: The Germans hang 50 prisoners of Pawiak after shooting 43 political prisoners in retaliation for AK cutting rail lines in Warsaw. (See Oct 8)

1943 Various:

Church and Reich: Oct 15-16 The Nazis begin rounding up the Jews of Rome. Prior to the arrests, the Jewish community is told by the Nazis that unless it can raise 50 kilograms of gold (equivalent to $56,000 US) within 36 hours, 300 hostages will be taken. When it turns out the Jews can raise only 35 kilograms, the Chief Rabbi, Israel Zolli, asks for and receives a loan from the Vatican treasury to cover the balance. The Pope approves the transaction.) (THP)

Church and Reich: General Stahel, the German military commander of Rome, receives a letter signed by Bishop Hudal, head of the German Church in Rome. It says in part: "I would be very grateful if you would give an order to stop these arrests (of the Jews) in Rome and its vicinity right away; I fear that otherwise the Pope will have to make an open stand which will serve the anti-German propaganda as a weapon against us." (THP)

Poland: Nazis begin a series of street executions in Warsaw. About 300 people will be killed weekly for the next few months. (THP)

1944 World War II: Various:

The Red Army for the first time enters German territory near Goldap in East Prussia. Thousands of German civilians in the area flee in panic.

Churchill to the King:

Here in Moscow the weather is brilliant but crisp, and the political atmosphere is extremely cordial. Nothing like it has been seen before. The Prime Minister and Mr. Eden in their various talks with Marshal Stalin and M. Molotov have been able to deal with the most delicate problems in a frank, outspoken manner without the slightest sign of giving offense . . . it has been possible to touch on many grave matters in an easy fashion. The nights are very long, lasting until three or even four o'clock; but the Prime Minister also keeps late hours, and much work is done from about noon onwards, with conferences of various kinds . . . .

4. The day before yesterday was "All Poles Day." Our lot from London are, as your Majesty knows, decent but feeble, but the delegates from Lublin could hardly have been under any illusions as to our opinion of them. They appeared to me to be purely tools, and recited their parts with well-drilled accuracy. I cross-examined them fairly sharply, and on several points Marshal Stalin backed me up. We shall be wrestling with our London Poles all today, and there are some hopes that we may get a settlement. If not we shall have to hush the matter up and spin it out until after the (American) Presidential election.

1946: From Spandau: The Secret Diaries, by Albert Speer:

At some hour of the night I woke up. I could hear footsteps and indistinguishable words in the lower hall. Then silence, broken by a name being called out: "Ribbentrop!" A cell door is opened; then scraps of phrases, scraping of boots, and reverberating footsteps slowly fading away. Scarcely able to breathe, I sit upright on my cot, hearing my heart beat loudly, at the same time aware that my hands are icy. Soon the footsteps come back and I hear the next name...

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: 1:11AM, Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop; Hitler's chief military advisor, Field Marshal General Wilhelm Keitel; General Alfred Jodl; Gestapo Chief Ernst Kaltenbrunner; Hans Frank, governor-general of occupied Poland; slave-labor czar Fritz Sauckel, Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick, Austrian Nazi leader Arthur Seyss-Inquart, and anti-Jewish propagandists Alfred Rosenberg and Julius Streicher are all hanged in the gymnasium of Landsberg Prison in Nuremberg for war crimes or crimes against humanity. Streicher's last word is "Purimfest." Note: US Master Sgt. John C. Woods and 28-year-old MP Joseph Malta serve as executioners. The ten hangings take one hour and 15 minutes. The necks of the condemned did not break during the initial fall, and the agony of their deaths was thereby prolonged for many minutes.

[See: Are There Any Lasting Effects From the Nuremberg Trials?]

1964 Nuclear weapons: China detonates its first atomic bomb.

1997 Holocaust: A Polish government panel finds no evidence that Communist authorities instigated the 1946 pogrom against Jews in Kielce (P), but acknowledged the Communists did not act quickly enough to control the violence. 42 Jews were killed during what is considered the last pogrom in Europe. A number of Polish army officers and security officers are known to have taken part in the attacks.

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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