On this day, October 2, 1944, after 63 days of fighting, the Warsaw Uprising was defeated by German forces. It remains the largest single operation by any resistance army against Nazi occupation and aggression. The Uprising failed because Stalin tactically ordered a stop to the Soviet advance to the eastern edge of Warsaw. This allowed the Germans to destroy 85% of the city and kill approximately 200,000 civilians as well as approximately 16,000 resistance fighters and capture approximately 15,000 prisoners-of-war.
Would that it didn't have to be, but at least on this day, October 1, 1946, the Nazi leaders were finally sentenced at the Nuremburg Trials. Most were sentenced to death by hanging with the significant exception of Albert Speer.
The tribunal was given the task of trying 23 of the most important political and military leaders of the Third Reich, though one of the defendants, Martin Bormann, was tried in absentia, while another, Robert Ley, committed suicide within a week of the trial's commencement. (Not included were Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Joseph Goebbels, all of whom had committed suicide in the spring of 1945, well before the indictment was signed.)
The first, and best known of these trials, described as "the greatest trial in history" by Norman Birkett, one of the British judges who presided over it, was the trial of the major war criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT). It is considered to be a major step in the formulation of modern international law and the establishment of the ICTY, ICTR, the ICC and the ad hoc courts for Cambodia and Sierra Leone.
On this day, May 2, 1933, another step in Gleichschaltung: Adolf Hitler banned trade unions. Twelve years later, on May 2, 1945, the Soviet Union announces the capture of Berlin and Soviet soldiers hoist their red flag over the Reichstag building.
Thomas E. Keefe
Assistant Professor of Humanities,