December 4, 1969
Police kill two members of the Black Panther Party
Black Panthers Fred Hampton, 21, and Mark Clark, 22, are gunned down by 14 police officers as they lie sleeping in their Chicago, Illinois, apartment. About a hundred bullets had been fired in what police described as a fierce gun battle with members of the Black Panther Party. However, ballistics experts later determined that only one of those bullets came from the Panthers’ side. In addition, the “bullet holes” in the front door of the apartment, which police pointed to as evidence that the Panthers had been shooting from within the apartment, were actually nail holes created by police in an attempt to cover up the attack. Four other Black Panthers were wounded in the raid, as well as two police officers.
Despite the evidence provided by ballistics experts showing that police had fired 99 percent of the bullets and had falsified the report on the incident, the first federal grand jury did not indict anyone involved in the raid. Furthermore, even though a subsequent grand jury did indict all the police officers involved, the charges were dismissed.
Survivors of the attack and relatives of Hampton and Clark filed a lawsuit against Hampton and other officials, which was finally settled in 1983.
“Police kill two members of the Black Panther Party.” 2008. The History Channel website. 4 Dec 2008, 11:27 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1209.
1783 – Gen. George Washington said farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York.
1875 – William Marcy Tweed, the “Boss” of New York City’s Tammany Hall political organization, escaped from jail and fled from the U.S.
1918 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson set sail for France to attend the Versailles Peace Conference. Wilson became the first chief executive to travel to Europe while in office.
1942 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the dismantling of the Works Progress Administration. The program had been created in order to provide jobs during the Great Depression.
1942 – U.S. bombers attacked the Italian mainland for the first time during World War II.
1945 – The U.S. Senate approved American participation in the United Nations.
1965 – The U.S. launched Gemini 7 with Air Force Lt. Col. Frank Borman and Navy Comdr. James A. Lovell on board.
1973 – Pioneer 10 reached Jupiter.
1978 – Dianne Feinstein became San Francisco’s first woman mayor when she was named to replace George Moscone, who had been murdered.
1986 – Both U.S. houses of Congress moved to establish special committees to conduct their own investigations of the Iran-Contra affair.
1991 – Associated Press correspondent Terry Anderson was released after nearly seven years in captivity in Lebanon.
1991 – Pan American World Airways ceased operations.
1992 – U.S. President Bush ordered American troops to lead a mercy mission to Somalia.
1993 – The Angolan government and its UNITA guerrilla foes formally adopted terms for a truce. The conflict was killing an estimated 1,000 people per day.
1997 – The play revival “The Diary of Anne Frank” opened.
December 4, 1942
Polish Christians come to the aid of Polish Jews
On this day in Warsaw, a group of Polish Christians put their own lives at risk when they set up the Council for the Assistance of the Jews. The group was led by two women, Zofia Kossak and Wanda Filipowicz.
Since the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the Jewish population had been either thrust into ghettos, transported to concentration and labor camps, or murdered. Jewish homes and shops were confiscated and synagogues were burned to the ground. Word about the Jews’ fate finally leaked out in June of 1942, when a Warsaw underground newspaper, the Liberty Brigade, made public the news that tens of thousands of Jews were being gassed at Chelmno, a death camp in Poland-almost seven months after the extermination of prisoners began.
Despite the growing public knowledge of the “Final Solution,” the mass extermination of European Jewry and the growing network of extermination camps in Poland, little was done to stop it. Outside Poland, there were only angry speeches from politicians and promises of postwar reprisals. Within Poland, non-Jewish Poles were themselves often the objects of persecution and forced labor at the hands of their Nazi occupiers; being Slavs, they too were considered “inferior” to the Aryan Germans.
But this did not stop Zofia Kossak and Wanda Filipowicz, two Polish Christians who were determined to do what they could to protect their Jewish neighbors. The fates of Kossak and Filipowicz are unclear so it is uncertain whether their mission was successful, but the very fact that they established the Council is evidence that some brave souls were willing to risk everything to help persecuted Jews. Kossak and Filipowicz were not alone in their struggle to help; in fact, only two days after the Council was established, the SS, Hitler’s “political” terror police force, rounded up 23 men, women, and children, and locked some in a cottage and some in a barn-then burned them alive. Their crime: suspicion of harboring Jews.
Despite the bravery of some Polish Christians, and Jewish resistance fighters within the Warsaw ghetto, who rebelled in 1943 (some of whom found refuge among their Christian neighbors as they attempted to elude the SS), the Nazi death machine proved overwhelming. Poland became the killing ground for not only Poland’s Jewish citizens, but much of Europe’s: Approximately 4.5 million Jews were killed in Poland’s death and labor camps by war’s end.
“Polish Christians come to the aid of Polish Jews.” 2008. The History Channel website. 4 Dec 2008, 11:30 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6400.
On This Day in Wisconsin: December 4
1842 – Waukesha Civil War Hero Born
On this date William B. Cushing of Waukesha was born. In October, 1864 Cushing led a small group of soldiers in the sinking of the Confederate ironclad ram, the Albermarle. The crew exploded a torpedo beneath the ship and then attempted to escape. The Albermarle imposed a blockade near Plymouth, North Carolina and sunk or removed many Union vessels while on the watch. Cushing’s plan was a success, although his ship sank and most of the crew either surrendered or drowned. Cushing and one other man swam to shore and hid in the swamps to evade Confederate capture. Cushing received a “vote of thanks” from the U.S. Congress and was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. He died in 1874 of ill health and is buried in the Naval Cemetary at Annapolis, Maryland. [Source: Badger Saints and Sinners by Fred L. Holmes, p.274-285]