The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Aggression Against Poland, Danzig, England & ; France
(Part 18 of 21)

But it was too late. The orders had already been given on that day to the German Army to invade. A "Most Secret order" signed by Hitler, described as his "Direction No. 1 for the conduct of the war," dated 31 August 1939, reads in part:

"Now that all the political possibilities of disposing by peaceful means of a situation of the Eastern Frontier which is intolerable for Germany are exhausted, I have determined on a solution by force.

"The attack on Poland is to be carried out in accordance with

[Page 720]

the preparations made for 'Fall Weiss', with the alterations which result, where the Army is concerned, from the fact that it has in the meantime almost completed its dispositions.

"Allotment of tasks and the operational target remain unchanged.

"Date of attack -- 1 September 1939 "Time of attack -- 04:45 [inserted in red pencil]

"This time also applies to the operation at Gdynia, Bay of Danzig and the Dirschau Bridge.

"In the West it is important that the responsibility for the opening of hostilities should rest unequivocally with England and France. At first purely local action should be taken against insignificant frontier violations." (C-126)

That evening, 31 August, at nine o'clock, the German radio broadcast the terms of the German proposals about which they were willing to enter into discussions with the Polish Government. The proposals were set out at length. By his time, neither Sir Neville Henderson nor the Polish Government nor their Ambassador had yet been given their written copy of them. This is a document which seems difficult to explain other than as an exhibition or an example of hypocrisy. The second paragraph states:

"Further, the German Government pointed out that they felt able to make the basic points regarding the offer of an understanding available to the British Government by the time the Polish negotiator arrived in Berlin."

The manner in which they did that has been shown. The German Broadcast continued, that instead of the arrival of an authorized Polish personage, the first answer the Government of the Reich received to their readiness for an understanding was the news of the Polish mobilization; and that only toward 12 o'clock on the night of 30 August 1939 did they receive a somewhat general assurance of British readiness to help towards the commencement of negotiations. The fact that the Polish negotiator expected by the Reich did not arrive, removed the necessary conditions for informing His Majesty's Government of the views of the German Government as regards the possible basis for negotiation. Since His Majesty's Government themselves had pleaded for direct negotiations between Germany and Poland, the German Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ribbentrop, gave the British Ambassador on the occasion of the presentation of the last British note, precise information as to the text of the German proposals which will be regarded as a basis for negotiation in the event of the arrival of the Polish Plenipotentiary. The Broadcast thereafter went on to

[Page 721]

set out the Nazi version of the story of the negotiations over the last few days. (TC-73 No. 113)

On 1 September, when his armies were already crossing the Polish frontier, Hitler issued this proclamation to his Armed Forces:

"The Polish Government, unwilling to establish good neighborly relations as aimed at by me, wants to force the issue by way of arms.

"The Germans in Poland are being persecuted with bloody terror and driven from their homes. Several acts of frontier violation which cannot be tolerated by a great power show that Poland is no longer prepared to respect the Reich's frontiers. To put an end to these mad acts I can see no other way but from now onwards to meet force with force.

"The German Armed Forces will with firm determination take up the struggle for the honor and the vital rights of the German people.

"I expect every soldier to be conscious of the high tradition of the eternal German soldierly qualities and to do his duty to the last.

"Remember always and in any circumstances that you are the representatives of National Socialist Greater Germany.

"Long live our people and the Reich." (TC-54)

So that at last Hitler had kept his word to his generals. He had afforded them their propagandistic justification, and at that time anyway, it did not matter what people said about it afterwards.

"The view shall not appear, asked later on, whether we told the truth or not. Might is what counts -- or victory is what counts and not right." (1014-PS)

On that day, 1 September, when news came of this invasion of Polish ground, the British Government, in accordance with their treaty obligations, sent an ultimatum to the German Government, in which it stated:

"I am accordingly to inform your Excellency that unless the German Government are prepared to give His Majesty's Government satisfactory assurances that the German Government have suspended all aggressive action against Poland and are prepared promptly to withdraw their forces from Polish territory, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will without hesitation fulfill their obligations to Poland." (TC-72 No. 110)

At 9 o'clock on 3 September the British Government handed

[Page 722]

a final ultimatum to the German Minister of Foreign Affairs. It read in part:

"*** Although this communication was made more than twenty-four hours ago, no reply has been received but German attacks upon Poland have been continued and intensified. I have accordingly the honor to inform you that, unless not later than eleven o'clock, British Summer Time, today 3d September, satisfactory assurances to the above effect have been given by the German Government, and have reached His Majesty's Government in London, a state of war will exist between the two countries as from that hour." (TC-72 No. 118)

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