The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Aggression Against Poland, Danzig, England & ; France
(Part 9 of 21)

C. Final Preparations: June-September 1939

(1) Final Preparations of the Armed Forces. A precise timetable for the attack had been called for. On 22 June 1939 it was ready. It provided as follows:

"The Supreme Command of the Armed Forces has submitted to the Fuehrer and Supreme Commander a preliminary timetable' for 'Fall Weiss' based on the particulars so far available from the Navy, Army and Air Force. Details concerning the days preceding the attack and the start of the attack were not included in this timetable.

"The Fuehrer and the Supreme Commander is, in the main, in agreement with the intentions of the Navy, Army and Air Force and made the following comments on individual points:

"1. In order not to disquiet the population by calling up reserves on a larger scale than usual for the maneuvers scheduled for 1939, as is intended, civilian establishments, employers or other private persons who make enquiries should be told that men are being called up for the autumn maneuvers and for the exercise units it is intended to form for these maneuvers.

"It is requested that directions to this effect be issued to subordinate establishments." (C-126)

[Page 694]

All this became relevant later, when the German government made allegations of mobilization on the part of the Poles. This order shows that in June the Germans were mobilizing, only doing so secretly. The order continues:

"For reasons of security the clearing of hospitals in the area of the frontier which the Supreme Command of the Army proposed should take place from the middle of July, must not be carried out." (C-126)

The order is signed by Keitel.

A short letter, dated 2 August, which is attached to that order, reads in part:

"Attached are Operational Directions for the employment of U-Boats which are to be sent out to the Atlantic, by way of precaution, in the event of the intention to carry out 'Fall Weiss' remaining unchanged. F.O. U- Boats [Doenitz] is handing in his Operation Orders by 12 August." (C-126)

Another letter, dated 27 July, contains orders for the Air and Sea Forces for the occupation of the German Free City of Danzig. It provides:

"The Fuehrer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces has ordered the reunion of the German Free State of Danzig with the Greater German Reich. The Armed Forces must occupy the Danzig Free State immediately in order to protect the German population. There will be no hostile intention on the part of Poland so long as the occupation takes place without the force of arms." (C-30)

The letter then sets out how the occupation is to be effected. All this again becomes more relevant in the subsequent discussion of the diplomatic action of the last few days before the war, when Germany was making specious offers for the settlement of the question by peaceful means. This letter is evidence that the decision had been taken, and that nothing would change that decision. During July, right up to the time of the war, steps were being taken to arm the population of Danzig and to prepare them to take part in the coming occupation.

The reports which were coming back almost daily during this period from Mr. Shepherd, British Consul-General in Danzig, to the British Foreign Minister, and published in the British Blue Book, show the kind of thing that was happening. The report dated 1 July 1939 reads as follows:

"Yesterday morning four German army officers in mufti arrived here by night express from Berlin to organize Danzig Hemwehr.

"All approaches to hills and dismantled fort, which consti-

[Page 695]

tute a popular public promenade on western fringe of the city, have been closed with barbed wire and 'verboten' notices.

"The walls surrounding the shipyards bear placards: 'Comrades keep your mouths shut lest you regret consequence.' "Master of British steamer 'High Commissioner Wood' whilst he was roving Koenigsberg from 28th June to 30th June, observed considerable military activity, including extensive shipment of camouflaged covered lorries and similar material by small coasting vessels. On 28th June four medium-sized steamers, loaded with troops, lorries, field kitchens, etc., left Koenigsberg, ostensibly returning to Hamburg after maneuvers, but actually proceeding to Stettin." (TC-71).

And again, as another example, the report dated 10 July states:

"The same informant, whom I believe to be reliable, advises me that on 8th July he personally saw about thirty military lorries with East Prussian license numbers on the Bischofsberg, where numerous field kitchens had been placed along the hedges. There were also eight large anti-aircraft guns in position, which he estimated as being of over 3-inch caliber, and three six-barreled light anti-aircraft machine guns. There were about 500 men drilling with rifles, and the whole place is extensively fortified with barbed wire." (TC-71).

On 12 and 13 August, when preparations were practically complete, Hitler and Ribbentrop at last disclosed their intentions to their allies, the Italians. It will be recalled that one of the passages in Hitler's speech on 23 May, in regard to the proposed attack on Poland, had said, "Our object must be kept secret even from the Italians and the Japanese." (L-79). Now, when the preparations were complete, Hitler disclosed his intentions to his Italian comrades in the hope that they would join him. Ciano was surprised at Hitler's attempt to persuade the Italians to come into the war with him. He had no idea, as he said, of the urgency of the matter, and they are not prepared. He therefore tried to dissuade Hitler from starting o until the Duce could have a little more time to prepare himself. (TC- 77)

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