Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Invasion of Poland: A Journalist's View

Living in the United States, a country that takes up a large portion of North America, it is hard for me to imagine what it’s like to live in a tiny country on a small continent-a country that could be easily overrun.

But that’s what happened seventy six years ago today. At 4:45 A.M., Germany invaded Poland, first by bombing air bases, railroads, communication lines and munitions dumps, then by conducting a massive land invasion with troops, tanks, and artillery.

Hitler declared the German attack was a counter-attack in response to a Polish offensive move. However, testimony at the Nuremburg Trials tells a different story. On August 31, 1939, Nazi operatives posed as Polish military officers and took over a radio station in the city of Gleiwitz. The men broadcast an anti-German message then killed a Polish-sympathizer and left him at the scene to be used as proof of the act to the police and press.

Journalist William L. Shirer was stationed in Berlin at the time of the attack. Here is a portion of his diary entry for September 1:

“At six a.m. Sigrid Schultz-bless her heart-phoned. She said: “It’s happened.” I was very sleepy-my body and mind numbed, paralysed (sic). I mumbled: “Thanks, Sigrid,” and tumbled out of bed. The war is on!”

Later he wrote:

“It’s a “counter-attack!” At dawn this morning Hitler moved against Poland. It’s a flagrant, inexcusable, unprovoked act of aggression…A grey morning with overhanging clouds. The people in the street were apathetic when I drove to the Rundfunk for my first broadcast…None of the men bought the Extras which the newsboys were shouting. Along the east-west axis the Luftwaffe were mounting five big anti-aircraft guns to protect Hitler when he addressed the Reichstag at ten a.m…Throughout the speech, I thought as I listened, ran a curious strain, as though Hitler himself were dazed at the fix he had got himself into and felt  little desperate about it.”

Two days later, England declared war on Germany. The second World War had begun.
Are you old enough to remember WWII? If not, did your parents or grandparents share stories about the war?

A freelance writer for over ten years, Linda Shenton Matchett also writes historical fiction. She is currently seeking a publisher for her series about WWII war correspondent Ruth Brown. Visit her at www.LindaShentonMatchett.com



  1. My parents were both heavily involved during WWII.

    My father seeing active duty overseas.

    My mother helped with the population census. It was to prevent enemy infiltration. She carried a box of matches in her pocket, everything was paper back then of course, to destroy records in case of an invasion.

  2. My mother lived thru the WWII and I suppose that's why I'm fascinated with it. Great article, Linda

  3. I'm only 21, so of course I don't remember the war. My parents don't remember it either since they weren't born. My grand-parents didn't tell me any stories about the war, but my father loves history and I've learned a lot about the war through his knowledge and movies :D

    Thanks for this post, I love reading and knowing more about that period ;)

  4. No, I am a baby boomer so I didn't live during the war but I love history and this is one if my favorite eras to learn about and read about. We can never, ever be able to thank The Greatest Generation for all that they did!

  5. My mom was born in 1941, so she is too young to remember anything. My grandparents were born right after the turn of the century and my grandfather was a career military man. He served in the early part of WWII while my grandmother took care of 8 children at home. She went on to have 5 more children, but 1 more was born during WWII. When the service recognized the number of children my grandfather had, they wouldn't allow him to serve overseas again. I'm proud of his service, but happy that they wouldn't risk such a large family losing it's patriarch.