Year
1943

Germans resume deportations from Warsaw to Treblinka

On this day, the deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to the concentration camp at Treblinka is resumed—but not without much bloodshed and resistance along the way.

On July 18, 1942, Heinrich Himmler promoted Auschwitz camp commandant Rudolf Hess to SS major. He also ordered that the Warsaw ghetto, the Jewish quarter constructed by the Nazis upon the occupation of Poland and enclosed first by barbed wire and then by brick walls, be depopulated—a “total cleansing,” as he described it. The inhabitants were to be transported to what became a second extermination camp constructed at the railway village of Treblinka, 62 miles northeast of Warsaw.

Within the first seven weeks of Himmler’s order, more than 250,000 Jews were taken to Treblinka by rail and gassed to death, marking the largest single act of destruction of any population group, Jewish or non-Jewish, civilian or military, in the war. Upon arrival at “T. II,” as this second camp at Treblinka was called, prisoners were separated by sex, stripped, and marched into what were described as “bathhouses,” but were in fact gas chambers. T. II’s first commandant was Dr. Irmfried Eberl, age 32, the man who had headed up the euthanasia program of 1940 and had much experience with the gassing of victims, especially children. He was assisted in his duties by several hundred Ukrainian and about 1,500 Jewish prisoners, who removed gold teeth from victims before hauling the bodies to mass graves.

In January 1943, after a four-month hiatus, the deportations started up again. A German SS unit entered the ghetto and began rounding up its denizens—but they did not go without a fight. Six hundred Jews were killed in the streets as they struggled with the Germans. Rebels with smuggled firearms opened fire on the SS troops. The Germans returned fire—machine-gun fire against the Jews’ pistol shots. Nine Jewish rebels fell—as did several Germans. The fighting continued for days, with the Jews refusing to surrender and even taking arms from their Germans persecutors in surprise attacks.

Amazingly, the Germans withdrew from the ghetto in the face of the unexpected resistance. They likely did not realize how few armed resisters there were, but the fact that resistance was given at all intimidated them. But there was no happy ending. Before this new incursion into the ghetto was over, 6,000 more Jews were transported to their likely deaths at Treblinka.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

“Mandy” is Barry Manilow’s first #1 pop hit

Barry Manilow’s scores his first #1 single with “Mandy” on January 18, 1975. He would go on to sell more than 75 millions records over the course of his career. At the height of Barry Manilow’s popularity, none other than Frank Sinatra himself said of Manilow, “He’s next.” Yet ...read more

Scott reaches the South Pole

After a two-month ordeal, the expedition of British explorer Robert Falcon Scott arrives at the South Pole only to find that Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer, had preceded them by just over a month. Disappointed, the exhausted explorers prepared for a long and difficult ...read more

Cook discovers Hawaii

On January 18, 1778, the English explorer Captain James Cook becomes the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands when he sails past the island of Oahu. Two days later, he landed at Waimea on the island of Kauai and named the island group the Sandwich Islands, in honor of ...read more

GM auctions off historic cars

January 18, 2009, marks the final day of a weeklong auction in which auto giant General Motors (GM) sells off historic cars from its Heritage Collection. GM sold around 200 vehicles at the Scottsdale, Arizona, auction, including a 1996 Buick Blackhawk concept car for $522,500, a ...read more

McGovern begins his presidential campaign

In a televised speech, Senator George S. McGovern (D-South Dakota) begins his antiwar campaign for the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination by vowing to bring home all U.S. soldiers from Vietnam if he is elected. McGovern won his party’s nomination, but was defeated in the ...read more

NHL is integrated

On January 18, 1958, hockey player Willie O’Ree of the Boston Bruins takes to the ice for a game against the Montreal Canadiens, becoming the first black to play in the National Hockey League (NHL). Born in 1935 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, O’Ree was the son of a civil ...read more

Wilson attends Paris Peace Conference

On this day in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson attends the Paris Peace Conference that would formally end World War I and lay the groundwork for the formation of the League of Nations. Wilson envisioned a future in which the international community could preempt another conflict ...read more

A.A. Milne is born

On this day in 1882, A.A. Milne, creator of Winnie-the-Pooh, is born. The youngest of three sons born to schoolteacher parents, Milne taught himself to read at age two. He began writing humorous pieces as a schoolboy and continued to do so at Cambridge, where he edited the ...read more

Barry arrested on drug charges

At the end of a joint sting operation by FBI agents and District of Columbia police, Mayor Marion Barry is arrested and charged with drug possession and the use of crack, a crystalline form of cocaine. At the Vista International Hotel in downtown Washington, Barry was caught ...read more

United States walks out of World Court case

For the first time since joining the World Court in 1946, the United States walks out of a case. The case that caused the dramatic walkout concerned U.S. paramilitary activities against the Nicaraguan government. For the Reagan administration, efforts to undermine the ...read more

John Tyler dies

On this day in 1862, former U.S. President andConfederate congressman-elect John Tyler dies at age 71 in Richmond, Virginia. Tyler, whowasborn in Virginia in 1790, served asa U.S. congressman and as governor of his home state before winning election to the U.S. Senate. ...read more