Skip to comments.BRITISH REPLY TO HITLER NARROWS THE ISSUE (8/31/39)
Posted on 08/31/2009 4:44:12 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Thanks for doing all of this, I really look forward to watching WWII play out in “real time”.
We have our own world war ahead against liberal fascists and radical islam here and abroad. Lets hope we get right with God and win
I read this report carefully, to see if there was any connection to historical reality, as we know it. Couldn't find any. What are these people talking about?
The great battle is already over (not mentioned), the Japanese defeated (not mentioned), and now the Soviet Union is trying to make nice with Japan too? (that is mentioned!)
I don't get it.
Incredible!!! just incredible. Ya know, someone could make a movie out of this stuff.
Poland has been slowly preparing for war...but far too slowly and now far too late. Although the articles mention that Poland has been “partially mobilized” since March, they had not announced real war preparations until about 10 days ago. Today’s announcement is way too late. The war starts tomorrow. I imagine those men subject to call up today will never even get matched with uniform and weapon, and none will be formed into cohesive units.
And what weapons are available anyway? I doubt Poland had large reserve stocks of weapons; they were short of modern weaponry for their standing army.
Now that I think of it, I wonder why I’d never thought of this before: Why didn’t Poland, as part of their “guarantee” from Britain and France, at least ASK that they get some equipment? Sort of a European “lend-lease.” The French at least were re-arming with modern equipment such as the Dewoitine 520 fighter and the Somua tank. Certainly they could have provided the Poles with the equipment that was being replaced. And I’m talking about doing this several months ago, when it might have mattered.
The French and British chose the ally for whom they would fight rather badly. In 1939, they could offer no direct help for an ally with a poorly equipped army and indefensible borders. Poland was low-hanging fruit ripe for picking. The Czechs had defensible borders, good fortifications and a well-trained, well equipped army. They could have made a stand. Yet they got sold down the river and Poland got the guarantee.
The other thing about these articles is all this talk about “negotiations” and “narrowing issues.” What a farce.
As posted earlier, a great map of both armies’ deployments as they existed today, 70 years ago.
The Pomorze Group with five divisions in the Corridor has no chance. Even an armchair strategist like me can tell it’s out on a limb and destined for destruction. Likewise the Poznan Group is also too far forward. In all fairness to the Poles, they probably had no idea what was in store for them. Nobody had seen “Blitzkrieg” yet. As every football coach knows, speed kills.
It is strange that the Allies decided to defend Poland which was a very open difficult to defend land (ideal for tank warfare in all honesty) and chose to ignore the Czechs with their well defended borders in the Sudentenland. All I can say is that Munich was the last major mistake of the appeasers. They sold Czechoslovakia down the river by cutting their teeth out only to be betrayed by Hitler anyway. It is a sad testament to those that think they can match aggression with acquiescence.
I've got one radio broadcast today. This one is from the BBC of Alvar Liddell reporting that Germany considers Poland's unresponsiveness to its demands is equivalent to a rejection. But like you said Henkster it is all a farce anyway.
For those who have been with this from the beginning you are about to follow the start of a war that Homer has been spending the last 20 months covering the lead up to. I think he deserves a virtual slap on the back and handshake for the excellent job he has done.
And interesting side note on the Pozen group is that they in the end create one of the biggest problems for the Germans. They were basically bypassed in the attack and this left the German 8th Army in pretty bad situation when they attacked on the 9th of September. The 10th had to abandon its breakthrough to southern Warsaw to help the 8th against the 5 divisions of the Pozen Group.
I’ve only recently signed up for this so I’ve missed the previous “issues”. I did watch a fascinating analysis of Hitler’s “internal” thinking and strategy which answered at least one question I’d never been able to resolve, i.e., why he attacked Russia after having war declared upon Germany by Britain and France.
That particular analysis ran this way, i.e., that in the pursuit of “Living Space”, i.e., “Lebenstraum”, (s.p.), Hitler’s entire focus from the very beginning was Russia, not Western Europe or Britain. Indeed he believed (and correctly) that by political infiltration, he’d have France one day join the Axis and he believed, oddly enough, that one day the Brits would become at a minimum “passive” allies. Thus, his calculus was that Britain and France would never declare war over Poland; he saw their allegience to Poland as a feint and believed that once overrun, they would dilly-dally about and then back off once he invaded Russia. Again, rather strangely, the Munich meeting actually served, notwithstanding the signing of the accord, to reinforce Hitler’s view that the Brits wouldn’t intervene on behalf of Poland.
Now, having seen that analysis a couple of months ago, I started to re-evaluate the entire “Hitler/Britain” scenario, particularly in light of the Yalta conference where it comes to light that Stalin had become suspicious of a renewal of Britain’s “Imperial” Designs. We in the U.S. are/were truly out of touch with the other “World” view of Britain as an Imperialist aggressor, or at least “aggregator” which at that point controlled India, Egypt and the Suez canal as well as the oil fields of the Middle East.
If we view the Poland situation through these twin lenses, are we then led to an alternative scenario about Poland, and perhaps even Munich? That is to say........Poland begins to look like a “trap” for Germany, Czechoslovakia, having been the bait dangled before Herr Hitler. Poland then comes into view much like Pearl Harbor, an excuse to go to war with Germany.
If that were the case, while it can’t be said that Hitler was much of a “good” actor here, it might be fairly argued that WWII was actually prompted by England behaving as the “bad” actor. If the analysis reported above is correct to the effect that Hitler’s primary target was Russia and not Western Europe, then it might be correct to assert that Great Britain brought on WWII and that if GB hadn’t intervened, the U.S.S.R would have been toppled and ultimately, the EU would have been formed with Germany, and France being the two leading economic forces therein.
Thus.......we’d see the world situation in Western Europe and Russia much as it is today without WWII having ever happened, or at least not in Europe. The Japanese of course are an entirely different kettle of fish.
Anyway.......it’s an interesting theory.
Don't ask me. I don't write 'em. I just ride by your house and heave 'em onto your lawn every morning. (Sorry about the one that landed on the roof last week.)
What did it mean? It was only after the war that it became clear. It concerned one of the most bizarre incidents ever arranged by the Nazis. Just as Hitler and his Army chiefs, it will be remembered, had considered cooking up an incident, such as the assassination of the German minister, in order to justify their invading Austria and Czechoslovakia, so now they concerned themselves, as time began to run out, with concocting an incident which would, at least in their opinion, justify before the world the planned aggression against Poland.
The code name was Operation Himmler and the idea was quite simple and crude. The S.S.-Gestapo would stage a faked attack on the German radio station at Gleiwitz, near the Polish border, using condemned concentration camp inmates outfitted in Polish Army uniforms. Thus Poland could be blamed for attacking Germany. Early in August Admiral Canaris, chief of the Abwehr Section of OKW, had received an order from Hitler himself to deliver to Himmler and Heydrich 150 Polish uniforms and some Polish small arms. This struck him as a strange business and on August 17 he asked General Keitel about it. While the spineless OKW Chief declared he did not think much of actions of this kind, he nevertheless told the Admiral that nothing could be done, since the order had come from the Fuehrer. Repelled though he was, Canaris obeyed his instructions and turned the uniforms over to Heydrich.
The chief of the S.D. chose as the man to carry out the operation a young S.S. secret-service veteran by the name of Alfred Helmut Naujocks. This was not the first of such assignments given this weird individual nor would it be the last. Early in March of 1939, shortly before the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, Naujocks, at Heydrichs instigation, had busied himself running explosives into Slovakia, where they were used, as he later testified, to create incidents.
Alfred Naujocks was a typical product of the S.S.-Gestapo, a sort of intellectual gangster. He had studied engineering at Kiel University, where he got his first taste of brawling with anti-Nazis; on one occasion he had his nose bashed in by Communists. He had joined the S.S. in 1931 and was attached to the S.D. from its inception in 1934. Like so many other young men around Heydrich he dabbled in what passed as intellectual pursuits in the S. S. history and philosophy especially while rapidly emerging as a tough young man (Skorzeny was another) who could be entrusted with the carrying out of the less savory projects dreamed up by Himmler and Heydrich. On October 19, 1944, Naujocks deserted to the Americans and at Nuremberg a year later made a number of sworn affidavits, in one of which he preserved for history the account of the incident which Hitler used to justify his attack on Poland.
On or about August 10, 1939, the chief of the S.D., Heydrich, personally ordered me to simulate an attack on the radio station near Gleiwitz near the Polish border [Naujocks related in an affidavit signed in Nuremberg November 20, 1945] and to make it appear that the attacking force consisted of Poles. Heydrich said: Practical proof is needed for these attacks of the Poles for the foreign press as well as for German propaganda. . . .
My instructions were to seize the radio station and to hold it long enough to permit a Polish-speaking German who would be put at my disposal to broadcast a speech in Polish. Heydrich told me that this speech should state that the time had come for conflict between Germans and Poles . . . Heydrich also told me that he expected an attack on Poland by Germany in a few days.
I went to Gleiwitz and waited there fourteen days . . . Between the 25th and 31st of August, I went to see Heinrich Mueller, head of the Gestapo, who was then nearby at Oppeln. In my presence, Mueller discussed with a man named Mehlhorn plans for another border incident, in which it should be made to appear that Polish soldiers were attacking German troops . . .Mueller stated that he had 12 to 13 condemned criminals who were to be dressed in Polish uniforms and left dead on the ground of the scene of the incident to show they had been killed while attacking. For this purpose they were to be given fatal injections by a doctor employed by Heydrich. Then they were also to be given gunshot wounds. After the incident members of the press and other persons were to be taken to the spot of the incident . . .
Mueller told me he had an order from Heydrich to make one of those criminals available to me for the action at Gleiwitz. The code name by which he referred to these criminals was Canned Goods.
At noon on August 31, I received from Heydrich the code word for the attack which was to take place at 8 oclock that evening [2 p.m. in N.Y-Homer]. Heydrich said: In order to carry out this attack report to Mueller for Canned Goods. I did this and gave Mueller instructions to deliver the man near the radio station. I received this man and had him laid down at the entrance to the station. He was alive but completely unconscious. I tried to open his eyes. I could not recognize by his eyes that he was alive, only by his breathing. I did not see the gun wounds but a lot of blood was smeared across his face. He was in civilian clothes.
We seized the radio station, as ordered, broadcast a speech of three to four minutes over an emergency transmitter, fired some pistol shots and left.
William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Operation Himmler, the attack on the German radio station at Gleiwitz is now under way. Read background story at reply #15.
Excellent post, I had forgotten all about this.
I’ve always wondered with the Nazis couldn’t have staged a bigger “incident”? I mean an attack on an obscure radio station hardly warrants national rage (such as Pearl Harbor, the sinking of the USS Maine, 9-11, etc.) and a world view that retaliation was justified...then, again, perhaps I’m thinking too much in the 21st Century and not enough in the 20th.
I’m curious about radio technology back in the 1930s. I’m curious about how these American news papers got their information in real time. how well along was radio technology back then? Were they constantly talking to our allies overseas through radio? or am I missing an old tech we had for this? :) I’m a young’un and I just want to understand how they got their information. BTW, thanks for starting these posts. Some of the best history lessons I’ve ever had. It looks like the $*1t is about to hit the fan in Poland.
That is an interesting analysis. It would have been interesting had the British been that Machiavellian in their approach to political warfare.
Chamberlain wasn’t really that deep though. He was an ardent supporter of the policy of appeasement and the agreement at Munich he felt had proved out his point. He geniuenly believed that he had acheived “peace in our time” with that agreement and the absorbtion of the rump state of Czecho-Slovakia in March of 1939 was a real slap in the face to him.
From there he really was a changed man. If not so much in words, in practice he abandoned appeasement altogether and signed on to support Poland. This was almost an over-reaction (though I’m sure the Poles would not see it that way) in that he was going to go to war over Poland no matter what form of aggression the Germans took against her was. Had Germany only moved troops into Danzig and the corridor which would have been in line with Hitler’s initial demands, London would most likely still had gone to war.
I think that this is a case of the simplest explanation being the correct one in that the level in intrigue was not very spectacular. Even the upcoming “Polish” attack on the German radio station was not very convincing to any of the players.