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30 March 1944


30 March 1944

March 1944

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War at Sea

German submarine U-223 sunk off Palermo

Eastern Front

Soviet troops are within 16 miles of the Ruthenian border

War in the Air

RAF Bomber Command loses 95 bombers during a raid on Nuremburg



Train passengers suffocate

On March 1, 1944, a train stops in a tunnel near Salerno, Italy, and more than 500 people on board suffocate and die. Occurring in the midst of World War II, the details of this incident were not revealed at the time and remain somewhat murky.

Train Number 8017 left Salerno heading for the rural area south of the city through the Apennine Mountains. Although it was a freight train that was not supposed to carry passengers, it was common at the time for both soldiers and civilians to hitch rides on any convenient train. Passing through the towns of Eboli, Persano and Romagnano, the 8017 had picked up approximately 650 passengers by the time it reached Balvano.

Balvano was a tiny town between two long tunnels in the Apennines. It was raining as the 8017 began to ascend the Galleria delle Armi tunnel pass just outside of Balvano. Almost immediately, it was forced to stop. There were conflicting reports as to why this happened: either the train was unable to pull the overloaded freight cars up the slope or the train stopped to wait for a train descending in the opposite direction. In any case, the train sat idling in the tunnel for more than 30 minutes. While this might not have posed a severe danger in some circumstances, the train’s locomotives were burning low-grade coal substitutes because high-grade coal was hard to obtain during the war and the coal substitutes produced an excess of odorless and toxic carbon monoxide.

Approximately 520 of the train’s passengers were asphyxiated by the carbon monoxide as they sat in the train. The government, in the midst of an intense war effort, kept a lid on the story—it was barely reported at the time although it was one of the worst, and most unusual, rail disasters of the century and came less than two months after a train wreck in the Torro tunnel in Spain killed 500 people.


Ordnance Depot O_677 stayed at Wantage Berkshire on 30 march 1944

The Ordnance Depot O_677 is one of the units on the UK Station List made by Mr. Grinton. This and other records on Back to Normandy was compiled from Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, Kingdom Station List, and dated 7 September 1944.
(-) minus sign behind a unit name indicates that part of the unit was elsewhere.
Counties are mentioned as the so called pre-1974 British counties. The map co-ordinates are automatically made with Google Maps. If you have a more accurate location, photos, stories or links, please sent your information to Back to Normandy. The unit is also know as member of the US Army, Army Air Force. In this period, around this date of 30 maart 1944 the Ordnance Depot O_677 were here in Wantage, Berkshire.

The original station list was obtained from the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) at College Park, Maryland. The NARA describe it as HQ/ETO Station List, 4/30/44 and reference Box 15, 270/48/32/2. In the European and Mediterranean theater the US Army had 3.5 million troops there. About 1.7 million were combat troops and around 700.000 were service troops along with 592.000 army air force troops and the rest were replacements, patients, overhead and staff. The correct count of support- and line troops in this context is difficult.


30th Infantry Division - Old Hickory

This campaign map shows the route of the 30th Infantry Division throughout Europe during World War II. This chart is available for purchase at HistoryShots.com.

DIVISION CHRONICLE

The 30th Infantry Division arrived in England, 22 February 1944, and trained until June. It landed at Omaha Beach, Normandy, 10 June 1944, secured the Vire-et-Taute Canal, crossed the Vire River, 7 July, and, beginning on 25 July spearheaded the St. Lo break-through. The day after the Division relieved the 1st Infantry Division near Mortain on 6 August, the German drive to Avranches began. Fighting in place with all available personnel, the 30th frustrated enemy plans and broke the enemy spearhead in a week of violent struggle, 7 to 12 August.

The Division drove east through Belgium, crossing the Meuse River at Vise and Liege, 10 September. Elements entered Holland on the 12th, and Maastricht fell the next day. Taking up positions along the Wurm River, the 30th launched its attack on the Siegfried Line, 2 October 1944, and succeeded in contacting the 1st Division, 16 October, and encircling Aachen.

After a rest period, the Division eliminated an enemy salient northeast of Aachen, 16 November, pushed to the Inde River at Altdorf, 28 November, then moved to rest areas. On 17 December the Division rushed south to the Malmedy-Stavelot area to help block the powerful enemy drive in the Battle of the Ardennes. It launched a counteroffensive on 13 January 1945 and reached a point 2 miles south of St. Vith, 26 January, before leaving the Battle of the Bulge and moving to an assembly area near Lierneux, 27 January, and to another near Aachen to prepare for the Roer offensive. The Roer River was crossed, 23 February 1945, near Julich. The 30th moved back for training and rehabilitation, 6 March, and on 24 March made its assault crossing of the Rhine. It pursued the enemy across Germany, mopping up enemy pockets of resistance, took Hamelin, 7 April, Braunschweig on the 12th, and helped reduce Magdeburg on the 17th. The Russians were contacted at Grunewald on the Elbe River. After a short occupation period, the 30th began moving for home, arriving 19 August 1945.


More photos

P-47 of the 325th Fighter Group 345th Fighter Squadron, 350th Fighter Group, 12th Air Force. Colonel J.L. Laughlin, of the 362nd Fighter Group, smokes a cigar with his dog mascot “Prince” inside the cockpit of his P-47D serial 44-33287 “Five By Five” (coded B8-A) A two-seat P-47 Thunderbolt nicknamed “Astra” of the 365th Fighter Group. Thunderbolts in France, 1945 P47 43-2773 ‘Bird A** Bird II’ of the 406th Fighter Group flown by Howard Park. P-47 Thunderbolts, including (2N-U, serial number 42-25904) nicknamed “Lethal Liz II”, of the 50th Fighter Group, with cows at Carentan Airfield (A-10), France, Summer 1944 62d Fighter Squadron P-47 Thunderbolts on an escort mission, 1943 The ground crew servicing the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt flown by Captain Johnson. Sergeant George Baltimore is working on the petrol tank, Corporal Jack Kazanjac on top of the engine, Sergeant Howard Buckner by the cockpit, and Private Albert Asplint on the wing. 9th Air Force mechanics refill the compartments for the 4 12.7 machine guns on the left side of a Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. Cletrac in front of a P-47 Thunderbolt of the 406th Fighter Group. A line of 82nd Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group P-47 Thunderbolts at Duxford airbase. Captain Harold E. Stump and Second Lieutenant George J. Hays of the 78th Fighter Group with a P-47 Thunderbolt nicknamed “Bad Medicine”, 15 October 1943 F-80s and F-47s of the 36th and 86th Fighter Wings over Germany. Republic F-47N-5-RE Thunderbolt 44-88566 along with an F-86A Sabre and T-33 Shooting Star trainer, 1954 P-47 firing its M2 machine guns during night gunnery

1940’s Republic P-47N Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt flies its first combat mission a sweep over the Pacific. Used as both a high-altitude escort fighter and a low-level fighter-bomber, the P-47 quickly gained a reputation for ruggedness. Its sturdy construction and air-cooled radial engine enabled the Thunderbolt to absorb severe battle damage and keep flying. (U.S. Air Force photo) Newly arrived USAAF Republic P-47 Thunderbolts lined up in a maintenance area at Agana Airfield, Guam, Marianas Islands on 28 March 1945. USAAF P-47D “Razorback” configuration. RAF Thunderbolt Mk.II readying for a sortie over Burma. January 1945 Mexican P-47D Thunderbolt over the Philippines. P-47Ds of the 48th Fighter Group at an advanced landing ground in France. Two ground crew add the finishing touches to the nose art of a 352nd Fighter Group P-47 Thunderbolt nicknamed “Dallas Blonde”. Handwritten on slide casing: ‘P-47, 352nd F.G.’ A ground crewman works on a P-47 Thunderbolt beside P-51 Mustangs, (5Q-O, serial number 42-106886) nicknamed “Swede” and (6N-O, serial number 44-14776) nicknamed “Arrow Head”, of the 339th Fighter Group at Mount Farm. An 8th U.S. Air Force Republic P-47D Thunderbolt attacks a tower on a German airdrome in occupied France, in 1944. When a squadron of P-47 Thunderbolts attacked a gunpowder storage depot, the ensuing explosion destroyed one of their aircraft. The grave for the pilot was made by a refugee French couple, with .50cal ammunition for a border. The U.S. Navy escort carrier USS Barnes (ACV-20) underway in the Pacific Ocean on 1 July 1943, transporting U.S. Army Air Forces Lockheed P-38 Lightning and Republic P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft. A deckload of U.S. Army Air Force Republic P-47N Thunderbolt fighters on the flight deck of the escort carrier USS Casablanca (CVE-55) in 16 July 1945. The planes were loaded at Naval Air Station Alameda, California (USA) and were bound for Guam.

Destroyed P-47s at Y-34 Metz-Frescaty airfield. P-47N technical drawing


The internment of Japanese-Americans in pictures, 1942-1944

A military police officer posts Civilian Exclusion Order No. 1, requiring evacuation of Japanese living on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

On February 19, 1942, Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which forced all Japanese-Americans, regardless of loyalty or citizenship, to evacuate the West Coast. No comparable order applied to Hawaii, one-third of whose population was Japanese-American, or to Americans of German and Italian ancestry. Ten internment camps were established in California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas, eventually holding 120,000 persons. Many were forced to sell their property at a severe loss before departure.

A child looks at a soldier as he assembles for evacuation with his family.

Social problems beset the internees: older Issei (immigrants) were deprived of their traditional respect when their children, the Nisei (American-born), were alone permitted authority positions within the camps. 5,589 Nisei renounced their American citizenship, although a federal judge later ruled that renunciations made behind barbed wire were void. Some 3,600 Japanese-Americans entered the armed forces from the camps, as did 22,000 others who lived in Hawaii or outside the relocation zone. The famous all-Japanese 442nd Regimental Combat Team won numerous decorations for its deeds in Italy and Germany.

In January 1944, a Supreme Court ruling halted the detention of U.S. citizens without cause, and the exclusion order was rescinded, and the Japanese Americans began to leave the camps, most returning home to rebuild their former lives. The last camp closed in 1946.

This store owned by a man of Japanese ancestry is closed following evacuation orders in Oakland, California, in April of 1942. After the attack on Pearl Harbor the owner had placed the “I Am An American” sign in the store front window.

On a brick wall beside an air raid shelter poster, exclusion orders were posted at First and Front Streets in San Francisco, California, directing the removal of persons of Japanese ancestry from the first part of San Francisco to be affected by the evacuation. The order was issued April 1, 1942, by Lieutenant General J.L. DeWitt, and directed evacuation from this section by noon on April 7, 1942.

In 1980, under mounting pressure from the Japanese American Citizens League and redress organizations, President Jimmy Carter opened an investigation to determine whether the decision to put Japanese Americans into internment camps had been justified by the government. He appointed the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) to investigate the camps. The Commission’s report, titled Personal Justice Denied, found little evidence of Japanese disloyalty at the time and concluded that the incarceration had been the product of racism. It recommended that the government pay reparations to the survivors.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government and authorized a payment of $20,000 (equivalent to $41,000 in 2016) to each camp survivor. The legislation admitted that government actions were based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership”. The U.S. government eventually disbursed more than $1.6 billion (equivalent to $3,240,000,000 in 2016) in reparations to 82,219 Japanese Americans who had been interned and their heirs.

Of 127,000 Japanese Americans living in the continental United States at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, 112,000 resided on the West Coast. About 80,000 were nisei (literal translation: “second generation” American-born Japanese with U.S. citizenship) and sansei (“third generation” the children of Nisei). The rest were issei (“first generation”) immigrants born in Japan who were ineligible for U.S. citizenship under U.S. law.

First graders at a public school in San Francisco pledge allegiance to the flag before evacuations are ordered.

Tom C. Clark, coordinator of the Alien Enemy Control program of the Western Defense Command.

Japanese-Americans in San Francisco line up to register for evacuation and housing.

Two plainclothes men, left, watch as Japanese aliens are removed from their homes on Terminal Island, a vital Naval and Shipbuilding center in Los Angeles, California, on February 3, 1942. Some 400 male Japanese aliens — Terminal Island residents — were rounded up early on February 2 by 180 federal, city and county officers.

Japanese heads of family and persons living alone form a line outside Civil Control Station located in the Japanese American Citizens League Auditorium in San Francisco, California, to appear for “processing” in response to Civilian Exclusion Order Number 20, on April 25, 1942.

Persons of Japanese ancestry from San Pedro, California, arrive at the Santa Anita Assembly center in Arcadia, California, in 1942. Evacuees lived at this center at the Santa Anita race track before being moved inland to other relocation centers.

A crowd of onlookers in Seattle jam an overhead walk to witness the mass evacuation of Japanese from Bainbridge Island, Washington, on March 30, 1942. Somewhat bewildered, but not protesting, some 225 Japanese men, women and children were taken by ferry, bus and train to California internment camps. The evacuation was carried out by the U.S. Army.

A man in Pasadena packs his car with belongings before heading to the Manzanar War Relocation Camp.

Soldiers escort an elderly Japanese-American couple from their home on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Japanese-Americans escorted by soldiers cross a bridge as they are evacuated from Bainbridge Island to be taken to a relocation camp.

Japanese-Americans assemble in San Francisco for transportation to an assembly center, and later to various relocation centers. Photographer Dorothea Lange is visible above the crowd.

A mother and daughter assemble for relocation at a Los Angeles train station.

The Mochida family of Hayward, California, await relocation.

A boy sits on his belongings as he awaits relocation from San Francisco.

Evacuees’ baggage is piled up for transport at an assembly center in Salinas, California.

Evacuees assemble at a Los Angeles railroad station.

Evacuees in Los Angeles watch as trains carry their friends and relatives to Owens Valley.

Japanese families waiting to be relocated.

Japanese-American-owned fishing boats sit idle in Los Angeles harbor.

The last Japanese-American residents of Redondo Beach depart for relocation by truck.

A technician bids farewell to his wife as he departs for Manzanar.

John W. Abbott, left, an investigator for the Tolan Congressional Defense Committee on Migration, speaks to a young celery farmer who has just completed arrangements for leasing his farm during evacuation.

A Japanese-American-owned business in Los Angeles.

A family awaits a ferry to Seattle and on to a relocation camp.

San Francisco boys, one of them wearing a “Remember Pearl Harbor” hat, wave goodbye as they await relocation buses.

Japanese children waiting to be relocated.

An Japanese girl with her doll.

Japanese-Americans ride on a train to an assembly center.

Evacuees wave goodbye to friends and relatives bound for Owens Valley.

The Santa Anita Park race track is converted into an internment camp for evacuated Japanese Americans who will occupy the barracks erected in background in Arcadia, California. Photo taken on April 3, 1942.

apanese Americans removed from their Los Angeles homes line up at Manzanar Relocation Center, in California, on March 23, 1942, for their first meal after arrival at the camp. Rice, Beans, Prunes, and bread were included in the menu.

A wide view of the Tule Lake Relocation Center, in Newell, California. Photo taken in 1942 or 1943.

Four young evacuees from Sacramento, California, read comic books at the newsstand in the Tule Lake Relocation Center, in Newell, California, on July 1, 1942.

Japanese American evacuees make camouflage nets for the War Department in the Manzanar Relocation Center, in California, on July 1, 1942.

A street scene at the Manzanar Relocation Center, winter, 1943.

A referee in traditional dress watches over a Sumo wrestling match in front of Japanese-Americans interned at Santa Anita, California.

After the orders to relocate and detain persons of Japanese ancestry were rescinded, evacuees began returning home, and camps began to close. Here, Shuichi Yamamoto, the last evacuee to leave the Granada Relocation Center, in Amache, Colorado, says “Goodbye” to Project Director James G. Lindley, as the War Relocation Authority camp is officially closed October 15, 1945. Mr. Yamamoto, 65 years of age, was returning to his former home in Marysville, California.

Roaring into Sacramento on Monday morning, July 30, 1945, a special train of seven cars brought some 450 Japanese American residents of California back to their homes after staying over three years at the Rohwer Center of the War Relocation Authority, in McGehee, Arkansas.

A crowd of Japanese Americans stand behind a barbed wire fence waving to departing friends on train leaving Santa Anita, California.

A Japanese family returning home from a relocation center camp in Hunt, Idaho, found their home and garage vandalized with anti-Japanese graffiti and broken windows in Seattle, Washington, on May 10, 1945.


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Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced.


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# OnThisDayInHist ory On this 30th day of August in 1945, General Douglas MacArthur lands in Japan to oversee the formal surrender ceremony and to organize the postwar Japanese government.

The career of Douglas MacArthur is composed of one striking achievement after another. When he graduated from West Point, MacArthur’s performance, in terms of awards and average, had only been exceeded in the institution’s history by one other person - Robert E. Lee.

His performance in World War I, during combat in France, won him more decorations for valor and resulted in his becoming the youngest general in the Army at the time.

He retired from the Army in 1934, only to be appointed head of the Philippine Army by its president (the Philippines had U.S. commonwealth status at the time).

When World War II broke out, MacArthur was called back to active service - as commanding general of the U.S. Army in the Far East. Because of MacArthur’s time in the Far East, and the awesome respect he commanded in the Philippines, his judgment had become somewhat distorted and his vision of U.S. military strategy as a whole myopic. He was convinced that he could defeat Japan if it invaded the Philippines. In the long term, he was correct. But in the short term, the United States suffered disastrous defeats at Bataan and Corregidor. By the time U.S. forces were compelled to surrender, he had already shipped out, on orders from President Roosevelt. As he left, he uttered his immortal line, “I shall return.”

Refusing to admit defeat, MacArthur took supreme command in the Southwest Pacific, capturing New Guinea from the Japanese with an innovative “leap frog” strategy. MacArthur, true to his word, returned to the Philippines in October 1944, and once again employed an unusual strategy of surprise and constant movement that still has historians puzzled as to its true efficacy to this day. He even led the initial invasion by wading ashore from a landing craft-captured for the world on newsreel footage.

With the help of the U.S. Navy, which succeeded in destroying the Japanese fleet, leaving the Japanese garrisons on the islands without reinforcements, the Army defeated adamantine Japanese resistance. On March 3, 1945, MacArthur handed control of the Philippine capital back to its president. On August 30, 1945, MacArthur landed at Atsugi Airport in Japan and proceeded to drive himself to Yokohama. Along the way, tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers lined the roads, their bayonets fixed on him. One last act of defiance-but all for naught. MacArthur would be the man who would reform Japanese society, putting it on the road to economic success.

Plan a visit to the National Infantry Museum's gallery World at War: 1920-1947 when we reopen. It contains the largest collection of artifacts on display in the museum.


___ History of the Philippines

Early History: The Philippine archipelago was settled at least 30,000 years ago, when migrations from the Indonesian archipelago and elsewhere are believed to have occurred. Additional migrations took place over the next millennia. Over time, social and political organization developed and evolved in the widely scattered islands. The basic unit of settlement was the barangay (a Malay word for boat that came to be used to denote a communal settlement). Kinship groups were led by a datu (chief), and within the barangay there were broad social divisions consisting of nobles, freemen, and dependent and landless agricultural workers and slaves. Over the centuries, Indo-Malay migrants were joined by Chinese traders. A major development in the early period was the introduction of Islam to the Philippines by traders and proselytizers from the Indonesian islands. By A.D. 1500, Islam had been established in the Sulu Archipelago and spread from there to Mindanao it reached the Manila area by 1565. In the midst of the introduction of Islam came the introduction of Christianity, with the arrival of the Spanish.

Spanish Control: Ferdinand Magellan was the first European recorded to have landed in the Philippines*. He arrived in March 1521 during his circumnavigation of the globe. He claimed land for the king of Spain but was killed by a local chief. Following several more Spanish expeditions, the first permanent settlement was established in Cebu in 1565. After defeating a local Muslim ruler, the Spanish set up their capital at Manila in 1571, and they named their new colony after King Philip II of Spain. In doing so, the Spanish sought to acquire a share in the lucrative spice trade, develop better contacts with China and Japan, and gain converts to Christianity. Only the third objective was eventually realized. As with other Spanish colonies, church and state became inseparably linked in carrying out Spanish objectives. Several Roman Catholic religious orders were assigned the responsibility of Christianizing the local population. The civil administration built upon the traditional village organization and used traditional local leaders to rule indirectly for Spain. Through these efforts, a new cultural community was developed, but Muslims (known as Moros by the Spanish) and upland tribal peoples remained detached and alienated.

Trade in the Philippines centered around the “Manila galleons,” which sailed from Acapulco on the west coast of Mexico (New Spain) with shipments of silver bullion and minted coin that were exchanged for return cargoes of Chinese goods, mainly silk textiles and porcelain. There was no direct trade with Spain and little exploitation of indigenous natural resources. Most investment was in the galleon trade. But, as this trade thrived, another unwelcome element was introduced—sojourning Chinese entrepreneurs and service providers.

During the Seven Years’ War (1756–63), British East India Company forces captured Manila. Although the Philippines was returned to Spain at the end of the war, the British occupation marked the beginning of the end of the old order. Rebellions broke out in the north, and while the Spanish were busy fighting the British, Moros raided from the south. The Chinese community, resentful of Spanish discrimination, supported the British with laborers and armed men. The restoration of Spanish rule brought reforms aimed at promoting the economic development of the islands and making them independent of subsidies from New Spain. The galleon trade ceased in 1815, and from that date onward the Royal Company of the Philippines, which had been chartered in 1785, promoted direct and tariff-free trade between the islands and Spain. Cash crops were cultivated for trade with Europe and Latin America, but profits diminished after Spain’s Latin American colonies became independent in the 1810s and 1820s. In 1834 the Royal Company of the Philippines was abolished, and free trade was formally recognized. With its excellent harbor, Manila became an open port for Asian, European, and North American traders. In 1873 additional ports were opened to foreign commerce, and by the late nineteenth century three crops—tobacco, abaca, and sugar—dominated Philippine exports.

Rise of Nationalism: Also in the late nineteenth century, Chinese immigration, now with official approval, increased, and Chinese mestizos became a feature in Filipino social and economic life. So, too, did the growing Filipino native elite class of ilustrados (literally, enlightened ones), who became increasingly receptive to liberal and democratic ideas. Conservative Catholic friars continued to dominate the Spanish establishment, however. They resisted the inclusion of native clergy and were economically secure, with their large land holdings and control of churches, schools, and other establishments. Despite the bias against native priests, brothers, and nuns, some members of Filipino religious orders became prominent to the point of leading local religious movements and even insurrections against the establishment. Additionally, ilustrados returning from education and exile abroad brought new ideas that merged with folk religion to spur a national resistance.

One of the early nationalist leaders was José Rizal, a physician, scientist, scholar, and writer. His writings as a member of the Propaganda Movement (intellectually active, upper-class Filipino reformers) had a considerable impact on the awakening of the Filipino national consciousness. His books were banned, and he lived in self-imposed exile. Rizal returned from overseas in 1892 to found the Liga Filipina (Philippine League), a national, nonviolent political organization, but he was arrested and exiled and the league dissolved. One result was the split of the nationalist movement between the reform-minded ilustrados and a more revolutionary and independence-minded plebeian constituency. Many of the latter joined the Katipunan, a secret society founded by Andres Bonifacio in 1892 and committed to winning national independence. By 1896, the year the Katipunan rose in revolt against Spain, it had 30,000 members. Although Rizal, who had again returned to the Philippines, was not a member of the Katipunan, he was arrested and executed on December 30, 1896, for his alleged role in the rebellion. With Rizal’s martyrdom, the rebels, led by Emilio Aguinaldo as president, were filled with new determination. Spanish troops defeated the insurgents, however, and Aguinaldo and his government went into exile in Hong Kong in December 1897.

When the Spanish-American War broke out in April 1898, Spain’s fleet was easily defeated at Manila. Aguinaldo returned, and his 12,000 troops kept the Spanish forces bottled up in Manila until U.S. troops landed. The Spanish cause was doomed, but the Americans did nothing to accommodate the inclusion of Aguinaldo in the succession. Fighting between American and Filipino troops broke out almost as soon as the Spanish had been defeated. Aguinaldo issued a declaration of independence on June 12, 1898. However, the Treaty of Paris, signed on December 10, 1898, by the United States and Spain, ceded the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico to the United States, recognized Cuban independence, and gave US$20 million to Spain. A revolutionary congress convened at Malolos, north of Manila, promulgated a constitution on January 21, 1899, and inaugurated Aguinaldo as president of the new republic two days later. Hostilities broke out in February 1899, and by March 1901 Aguinaldo had been captured and his forces defeated. Despite Aguinaldo’s call to his compatriots to lay down their arms, insurgent resistance continued until 1903. The Moros, suspicious of both the Christian Filipino insurgents and the Americans, remained largely neutral, but eventually their own armed resistance had to be subjugated, and Moro territory was placed under U.S. military rule until 1914.

United States Rule: U.S. rule over the Philippines had two phases. The first phase was from 1898 to 1935, during which time Washington defined its colonial mission as one of tutelage and preparing the Philippines for eventual independence. Political organizations developed quickly, and the popularly elected Philippine Assembly (lower house) and the U.S.-appointed Philippine Commission (upper house) served as a bicameral legislature. The ilustrados formed the Federalista Party, but their statehood platform had limited appeal. In 1905 the party was renamed the National Progressive Party and took up a platform of independence. The Nacionalista Party was formed in 1907 and dominated Filipino politics until after World War II. Its leaders were not ilustrados. Despite their “immediate independence” platform, the party leaders participated in a collaborative leadership with the United States. A major development emerging in the post-World War I period was resistance to elite control of the land by tenant farmers, who were supported by the Socialist Party and the Communist Party of the Philippines. Tenant strikes and occasional violence occurred as the Great Depression wore on and cash-crop prices collapsed.

The second period of United States rule—from 1936 to 1946—was characterized by the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and occupation by Japan during World War II. Legislation passed by the U.S. Congress in 1934 provided for a 10-year period of transition to independence. The country’s first constitution was framed in 1934 and overwhelmingly approved by plebiscite in 1935, and Manuel Quezon was elected president of the commonwealth. Quezon later died in exile in 1944 and was succeeded by Vice President Sergio Osmea. Japan attacked the Philippines on December 8, 1941, and occupied Manila on January 2, 1942. Tokyo set up an ostensibly independent republic, which was opposed by underground and guerrilla activity that eventually reached large-scale proportions. A major element of the resistance in the Central Luzon area was furnished by the Huks (short for Hukbalahap, or People’s Anti-Japanese Army). Allied forces invaded the Philippines in October 1944, and the Japanese surrendered on September 2, 1945.

Early Independence Period: World War II had been demoralizing for the Philippines, and the islands suffered from rampant inflation and shortages of food and other goods. Various trade and security issues with the United States also remained to be settled before Independence Day. The Allied leaders wanted to purge officials who collaborated with the Japanese during the war and to deny them the right to vote in the first postwar elections. Commonwealth President Osmea, however, countered that each case should be tried on its own merits. The successful Liberal Party presidential candidate, Manual Roxas, was among those collaborationists. Independence from the United States came on July 4, 1946, and Roxas was sworn in as the first president. The economy remained highly dependent on U.S. markets, and the United States also continued to maintain control of 23 military installations. A bilateral treaty was signed in March 1947 by which the United States continued to provide military aid, training, and matériel. Such aid was timely, as the Huk guerrillas rose again, this time against the new government. They changed their name to the People’s Liberation Army (Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan) and demanded political participation, disbandment of the military police, and a general amnesty. Negotiations failed, and a rebellion began in 1950 with communist support. The aim was to overthrow the government. The Huk movement dissipated into criminal activities by 1951, as the better-trained and -equipped Philippine armed forces and conciliatory government moves toward the peasants offset the effectiveness of the Huks.

Populist Ramón Magsaysay of the Nacionalista Party was elected president in 1953 and embarked on widespread reforms that benefited tenant farmers in the Christian north while exacerbating hostilities with the Muslim south. The remaining Huk leaders were captured or killed, and by 1954 the movement had waned. After Magsaysay’s death in an airplane crash in 1957, he was succeeded by Vice President Carlos P. Garcia. Garcia was elected in his own right the same year, and he advanced the nationalist theme of “Filipinos First,” reaching agreement with the United States to relinquish large areas of land no longer needed for military operations. In 1961 the Liberal Party candidate, Diosdado Macapagal, was elected president. Subsequent negotiations with the United States over base rights led to considerable anti-American feelings and demonstrations. Macapagal sought closer relations with his Southeast Asian neighbors and convened a summit with the leaders of Indonesia and Malaysia in the hope of developing a spirit of consensus, which did not emerge.

The Marcos Era: Nacionalista Party leader Ferdinand Marcos came to dominate the political scene for the next two decades, beginning with his election to the presidency in 1965. During his first term, Marcos initiated ambitious public works projects that improved the general quality of life while providing generous pork-barrel benefits for his friends. Marcos perceived that his promised land reform program would alienate the politically all-powerful landowner elite, and thus it was never forcefully implemented. He lobbied strenuously for economic and military aid from the United States while resisting significant involvement in the Second Indochina War (1954–75). In 1967 the Philippines became a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Marcos became the first president to be reelected (in 1969), but early in his second term economic growth slowed, optimism faded, and the crime rate increased. In addition, a new communist insurgency, this time—starting in 1968—led by the new Communist Party of the Philippines-Marxist-Leninist and its military arm, the New People’s Army, was on the rise. In 1969 the Moro National Liberation Front was founded and conducted an insurgency in Muslim areas. Political violence blamed on leftists, but probably initiated by government agents provocateurs, led Marcos to suspend habeas corpus as a prelude to martial law.

Marcos declared martial law on September 21, 1972, and did not lift it until January 17, 1981. During this time, he called for self-sacrifice and an end to the old society. However, in the “New Society” Marcos’s cronies and his wife, former movie actress Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, wilfully engaged in rampant corruption. With her husband’s support, Imelda Marcos built her own power base. She became governor of Metropolitan Manila and minister of human settlements. The previously nonpolitical armed forces became highly politicized, with high-ranking positions being given to Marcos loyalists. In 1979 the United States reaffirmed Philippine sovereignty over U.S. military bases and continued to provide military and economic aid to the Marcos regime. When martial law was lifted in 1981 and a “New Republic” proclaimed, little had actually changed, and Marcos easily won reelection.

The beginning of the end of the Marcos era occurred when his chief political rival, Liberal Party leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, who had been jailed by Marcos for eight years, was assassinated as he disembarked from an airplane at the Manila International Airport on August 21, 1983, following medical treatment in the United States. Marcos cronies were charged with this crime but were acquitted. Aquino, however, became a martyr and his murder the focus of popular indignation against a corrupt regime. The Catholic Church, a coalition of old political opposition groups, the business elite, the left wing, and even factions of the armed forces all began to exert pressure on the regime. There also was foreign pressure and, feeling confident with the support given by the Reagan White House, Marcos called a “snap” presidential election for February 7, 1986. When the Marcos-dominated National Assembly proclaimed Marcos the winner, Cardinal Jaime Sin and key military leaders (including Minister of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile and acting Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Lieutenant General Fidel V. Ramos) rallied around the apparent majority vote winner, Aquino’s widow, Corazon Cojuango Aquino. The People Power Movement—a popular uprising of priests, nuns, ordinary citizens, and children, supported by defecting military units—ousted Marcos on the day of his inauguration (February 25, 1986) and brought Aquino to power in an almost bloodless revolution.

The Aquino Years and Beyond: Corazon Aquino had wide popular support but no political organization. Her vice president, Salvador H. “Doy” Laurel, had an organization but little popular support. Enrile and Ramos also had large stakes in what they saw as a coalition government. The coalition unraveled quickly, and there were several attempts, including unsuccessful military coups, to oust Aquino. She survived her fractious term, however, and was succeeded in the 1992 election by Ramos, who had served loyally as chief of staff of the armed forces and secretary of national defense under Aquino.

President Ramos worked at coalition building and overcoming the divisiveness of the Aquino years. Mutinous right-wing soldiers, communist insurgents, and Muslim separatists were convinced to cease their armed activities against the government and were granted amnesty. In an act of reconciliation, Ramos allowed the remains of Ferdinand Marcos—he had died in exile in the United States in 1989—to be returned to the Philippines for burial in 1993. Efforts by supporters of Ramos to gain passage of an amendment that would allow him to run for a second term were met with large-scale protests supported by Cardinal Sin and Corazon Aquino, leading Ramos to declare he would not run again.

Joseph Estrada, who had served as Ramos’s vice president and enjoyed widespread popularity, was elected president in 1998. Within a year, however, Estrada’s popularity declined sharply amid allegations of cronyism and corruption and failure to remedy the problems of poverty. Once again, street rallies supported by Cardinal Sin and Corazon Aquino took place. Then, in 2000 Senate investigators accused Estrada of having accepted bribes from illegal gambling businesses. Following an abortive Senate impeachment trial, growing street protests, and the withdrawal of support by the armed forces, Estrada was forced out of office on January 20, 2001.

Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (the daughter of the late President Diosdado Macapagal) was sworn in as Estrada’s successor on the day of his departure. Her accession to power was further legitimated by the mid-term congressional and local elections, when her coalition later won an overwhelming victory, but the elections were fraught with allegations of coercion, fraud, and vote buying. Macapagal-Arroyo’s initial term in office was marked by fractious coalition politics as well as a military mutiny in Manila in July 2003 that led her to declare a month-long nationwide state of rebellion, as a result of which charges were filed against more than 1,000 individuals. Macapagal-Arroyo had declared in December 2002 that she would not contest the May 2004 presidential election, but she reversed herself in October 2003 and decided to run. She was reelected and sworn in for her own six-year term as president on June 30, 2004. With this new mandate, she was able to move with greater assurance on the political and economic reform agenda that had stalled during her first term in office.

Source: Library of Congress

* Note: From books published in western Europe before Ferdinand Magellan landed in the southern Philippines in 1521, it is quite clear that the members of Magellan's 1521 expedition were not the first Europeans in the Philippines.


Laguna Copperplate Inscription (900 CE) is the first written document found in a Philippine language.


Ferdinand Magellan arrived in March 1521 in the Philippines during his circumnavigation of the globe.


History of Terezin

TEREZIN was a concentration camp 30 miles north of Prague in the Czech Republic during the World War II. It was originally a holiday resort reserved for Czech nobility. Terezín is contained within the walls of the famed fortress Theresienstadt, which was created by Emperor Joseph II of Austria in the late 18th century and named in honor of his mother, Empress Maria Theresa.

By 1940 Nazi Germany had assigned the Gestapo to turn Terezín into a Jewish ghetto and concentration camp. It held primarily Jews from Czechoslovakia, as well as tens of thousands of Jews deported chiefly from Germany and Austria, as well as hundreds from the Netherlands and Denmark. More than 150,000 Jews were sent there, including 15,000 children, and held there for months or years, before being sent by rail transports to their deaths at Treblinka and Auschwitz extermination camps in occupied Poland, as well as to smaller camps elsewhere. Less than 150 children survived.

Entrance at the inner camp of Terezin. "Arbeit macht frei" means "Works frees."

Although Terezin was not an extermination camp, about 33,000 died in the ghetto. This was mostly due to the appalling conditions arising out of extreme population density, malnutrition and disease. About 88,000 inhabitants were deported to Auschwitz and other extermination camps. At the end of World War II, there were 17,247 survivors of Terezin (including some who had survived the death camps).

Terezin barracks, where Jewish prisoners lived and slept.

Many educated Jews were inmates of Terezin. Unlike other camps, Terezin’s detainees included scholars, philosophers, scientists, visual artists, and musicians of all types, some of whom had achieved international renown, and many of these contributed to the camp's cultural life. The Nazis kept a tight rein on the world’s perception of activities within Terezin. In a propaganda effort designed to fool the Western allies, the Nazis publicized the camp for its rich cultural life.

The Czech composer Rafael Schächter was among those held at the Terezin camp. In 1943, he conducted an adult chorus of 150 Jews which engaged in 16 performances of the massive and complex Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi — learned by rote from a single vocal score and accompanied by a legless upright piano —before audiences of other prisoners, SS officers, and German army staff members. Their purpose: to sing to their captors words that could not be spoken.

In late 1943 an inspection of Terezin was demanded by Christian X, king of Denmark, to determine the condition of 466 Danish Jews sent there in October of that year. The review panel was to include two Swiss delegates from the International Red Cross and two representatives of the government of Denmark. The Nazis permitted these representatives to visit Terezin in order to dispel rumors about the extermination camps.

The Germans immediately engaged in an infamous beautification program – “Operation Embellishment,” a ruse intended to mollify the king’s concerns. Weeks of preparation preceded the visit. The area was cleaned up, and the Nazis deported many Jews to Auschwitz to minimize the appearance of overcrowding in Terezin. Also deported in these actions were most of the Czechoslovak workers assigned to "Operation Embellishment". The Nazis directed the building of fake shops and cafés to imply that the Jews lived in relative comfort.

The inspection was held on June 23, 1944, when the four officials were hosted by Adolf Eichmann, who was himself joined by numerous officers from Nazi headquarters in Prague and the high command in Berlin.

A photograph of Jewish children in Terezín taken during the inspection by the International Red Cross

The Danish Jews whom the Red Cross visited lived in freshly painted rooms, not more than three in a room. The Red Cross representatives were conducted on a tour following a predetermined path. The representatives apparently did not attempt to divert from the tour route on which they were led by the Germans, who posed questions to the Jewish residents along the way. If the representatives asked residents questions directly, they were ignored, in accordance with the Germans' instructions to the residents prior to the tour. Despite this, the Red Cross apparently formed a positive impression of the town.

As part of the charade the Nazis compelled Schächter to give a performance of the Requiem. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Red Cross issued “a bland report about the visit, indicating that the representatives were taken in by the elaborate fiction.” Eichmann was later quoted as having said, “Those crazy Jews—singing their own requiem.” Rafael Schächter was deported to Auschwitz on October 16, 1944, and died the following day in the gas chamber.

Prisoners of the Terezin concentration camp outside Prague rehearse Verdi's Requiem for an upcoming performance for the Red Cross inspection in 1944

Following the successful use of Terezin as a supposed model internment camp during the Red Cross visit, the Nazis decided to make a propaganda film there. It was directed by Jewish prisoner Kurt Gerron, an experienced director and actor. Shooting took eleven days, starting September 1, 1944. After the film was completed, most of the cast and the director were deported to Auschwitz. Gerron was murdered by gas chamber on October 28, 1944.

The film was intended to show how well the Jews were living under the purportedly benevolent protection of the Third Reich. Often called “The Führer Gives a Village to the Jews,” the correct name of the film is “Theresienstadt. Ein Dokumentarfilm aus dem jüdischen Siedlungsgebiet “("Terezin: A Documentary Film of the Jewish Resettlement"). As the film was not completed until near the end of the war, it was never distributed as intended, although a few screenings were held. Most of the film was destroyed, but some footage has survived.

Anna Smulowitz ‘s play Terezin: Children of the Holocaust takes place during the Red Cross’s inspection of Terezin in 1944. Click here to read about Terezin cast members meeting a Holocaust survivor.

Drawing by Helga Hošková-Weissová of life in Terezin

Helga Hošková-Weissová is a survivor of Terezin and Auschwitz. Born in the same year as Anne Frank (1929) and raised in Prague. On December 4th, 1941 she and her parents were interned at Terezin. In October 1944, aged 15, she and her mother were moved to Auschwitz. She survived Ausschwitz by persuading the Nazis that she was older than she really was. After ten days she was transferred from Auschwitz to Freiberg near Dresden, an auxiliary camp of Flossenbürg labor camp, where she escaped death again when she was forced to join a 16-day "death march" to the camp at Mauthausen. She remained there through the camp's liberation on 5 May 1945 by the US Army.

Drawing by Helga Hošková-Weissová of arrival in Terezin

Using her gift for painting and drawing, Helga wrote a diary, including images from her life in the camps, which survived the war. Her drawings and paintings have become well know and document life in the camps. Her account of her experiences, "Helga's Diary: A Young Girl's Account of Life in a Concentration Camp", was published by W. W. Norton & Company on April 22, 2013.


Watch the video: Η μάχη του Στάλινγκραντ 1942-1943 (January 2022).