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.
Think something is gonna happen tomorrow?
Shortwave radio was invented by Marconi sometime around 1923. It really took off in 1927 or 1928 though. Shortwave reflect off the ionosphere so it allows for a message to be sent anywhere on the earth despite the fact that it has to traverse the curvature. (i.e. Ham Radio)
Nah, Hitler is all hat and no cattle. He wouldn't do anything for real.
I bet Europe erupts in war, America rides in and saves the day and 69-70 years later they all forget and elect a Chamberlain for President who is content on watching a 2nd Holocaust
Three German Army Groups begin the invasion of Poland at 4:45am [10:45 pm 31 Aug in N.Y.-Homer]. Massive strikes by the Luftwaffe destroy vital communications and assembly areas, decimating the Polish air force on the ground. Panzer and motorised divisions make deep penetrations into the Polish defences, using tactics soon to be known as the Blitzkrieg. Officially, the first shots of the war are fired from the 280mm deck guns of the vintage First World War Battleship Schleswig-Holstein. Under the guise of honouring the anniversary of the Battle of Tannenburg, the German Battleship, complete with a hidden cargo of Marine assault troops, was allowed by the Poles to anchor directly off the strategic peninsula of Westerplatte, located at the mouth of the Vistula River in Danzig. At 4:47am, permission was given to the ship to open fire on the island, a strategic point on the Baltic Coast needed to support the troops advancing to the south. Shortly after 4:47am, the ship opened up its massive main guns, firing at near-point-blank range and zero elevation. Needless-to-say, the shells literally pounded the small island, but although the ships guns devastated the target, they inflicted minimal casualties on the Poles stationed within. When the Assault Marines hidden within the Battleship disembarked and launched their main assault on the island, they were repulsed taking heavy casualties. Another assault was launched later in the morning by the Assault Marines after more shelling from the Schleswig-Holstein, but this also ended in heavy German casualties. The Westerplatte would prove impossible to take on the first day of World War 2. Lieutenant Wladyslaw Gnys of 2 Krakow Air Regiment shoots down two Dornier 17 Bombers. These were to be the first German airplanes to be shot down in World War 2.
German battleship Schleswig-Holstein, shelling Westerplatte, 1 September 1939.
. . . and within two minutes photos of the barrage were already being published. Remarkable.
If WWIII begins and the internet for the most part is unhindered... I’m sure the “on the scene / photo reporting within minutes” would be amazing. We do live in fascinating times. Thanks for the ping and the education Homer.
woohoo skunk coats on sale!
again, what was so serious as to need to left side of the paper. Did the NY TIMES seriously think it could have been a bluff?
There are entire Polish army units riding on horseback! They are still ready to fight WW-1, they were not prepared at all to fight WW-2
we had oceanographic cables.
tanks I mean thanks
The misinformation will also spread like wildfire online.
Imagine Oct 19, 2010 ... GOP holds massive generic ballot lead in all polls.
Then “rightwingers” attack the Capitol building and try to set it afire. How do we know they were rightwingers? They were wearing anti-Obama t-shirts and posters (see DNC HQ in Denver).
Minor incidents are reported in dozens of cities.
The media plays it up huge. Holder arrests several GOP staffers and charges them with all kinds of stuff. The President declares a national emergency and shuts down conservative websites and radio talk shows.
Over a weeks time the country.
The Democrats win even larger majorities.
All charges are dropped a day later. The media forgets there was even a ‘national emergency’ in all of the celebration of the massive victory. The GOP is wiped out as a national political entity.
The one-party state is cemented. The media, all of them, calls for an end of multi-party democracy because its divisive and causes violence. Days after the election Obama now presents 6 more SCOTUS nominees, announcing they were expanding the court to reflect modern times.
The last 20 GOP Senators and 55 GOP House members find themselves locked out of the Capitol. The media doesn’t even report it. Controls on the internet and talk radio made permanent, political advertising by the opposition are banned.
The transatlantic cable was a marvel of technology, done with old world technology. Can you imagine the trouble they got into putting down that much cable? It did not work the first time either!
Even Shirer fell for that myth, wow
Hats off to the men and women who made it happen. :)
Oh yes. It was an amazing feat of engineering and bravery, we still use underwater cables today of course.
On July 21, 1858, the NY Times reported on the failure of the second attempt to lay the transatlantic cable. I don’t know if its the first or not.
Shorter cables were laid first of course. Meanwhile efforts to bridge the area from New Foundland to Ireland were rough going.
A lot of this was going on while the US was having a Civil War. It took a while but they pretty much got the world linked up by undersea cable. They were still laying them in the 1950’s, heck maybe still do.
Five attempts to lay it were made over a nine-year period - in 1857, two in 1858, in 1865, and in 1866 - before lasting connections were finally achieved by the SS Great Eastern captained by Sir James Anderson with the 1866 cable and the repaired 1865 cable. Additional cables were laid between Foilhommerum and Heart's Content in 1873, 1874, 1880 and 1894. By the end of the 19th century, British-, French-, German- and American-owned cables linked Europe and North America in a sophisticated web of telegraphic communications.
On August 16 (1858?), the first message sent across the cable was, "Glory to God in the highest; on earth, peace and good will toward men." Then Queen Victoria sent a telegram of congratulation to President James Buchanan through the line, and expressed a hope that it would prove "an additional link between the nations whose friendship is founded on their common interest and reciprocal esteem." The President responded that, "it is a triumph more glorious, because far more useful to mankind, than was ever won by conqueror on the field of battle. May the Atlantic telegraph, under the blessing of heaven, prove to be a bond of perpetual peace and friendship between the kindred nations, and an instrument destined by Divine Providence to diffuse religion, civilization, liberty, and law throughout the world."
Humans are awesome.
We can be sometimes.
On the profile of the bottom of the Atlantic, you notice the mid-Atlantic Ridge is missing. Still no clue about plate tectonics.
I was somwhat taken aback this morning while cruising the news stories; apparently I’m not alone in questioning the beginnings of WWII: Food for thought.
“Did Hitler Want War?” Pat Buchannan:
“On Sept. 1, 1939, 70 years ago, the German Army crossed the Polish frontier. On Sept. 3, Britain declared war.
Now one may despise what was done, but how did this partition of Czechoslovakia manifest a Hitlerian drive for world conquest?
Comes the reply: If Britain had not given the war guarantee and gone to war, after Czechoslovakia would have come Polands turn, then Russias, then Frances, then Britains, then the United States. We would all be speaking German now.
But if Hitler was out to conquer the worldBritain, Africa, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, South America, India, Asia, Australiawhy did he spend three years building that hugely expensive Siegfried Line to protect Germany from France? Why did he start the war with no surface fleet, no troop transports and only 29 oceangoing submarines? How do you conquer the world with a navy that cant get out of the Baltic Sea?
If Hitler wanted the world, why did he not build strategic bombers, instead of two-engine Dorniers and Heinkels that could not even reach Britain from Germany?
Why did he let the British army go at Dunkirk?
Why did he offer the British peace, twice, after Poland fell, and again after France fell?
Why, when Paris fell, did Hitler not demand the French fleet, as the Allies demanded and got the Kaisers fleet? Why did he not demand bases in French-controlled Syria to attack Suez? Why did he beg Benito Mussolini not to attack Greece?
Because Hitler wanted to end the war in 1940, almost two years before the trains began to roll to the camps.
Hitler had never wanted war with Poland, but an alliance with Poland such as he had with Francisco Francos Spain, Mussolinis Italy, Miklos Horthys Hungary and Father Jozef Tisos Slovakia.
Indeed, why would he want war when, by 1939, he was surrounded by allied, friendly or neutral neighbors, save France. And he had written off Alsace, because reconquering Alsace meant war with France, and that meant war with Britain, whose empire he admired and whom he had always sought as an ally.
As of March 1939, Hitler did not even have a border with Russia. How then could he invade Russia?
Winston Churchill was right when he called it The Unnecessary Warthe war that may yet prove the mortal blow to our civilization.”
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