I Told You So

From George Orwell’s diaries on this date 70 years ago:

Invasion of Poland began this morning. Warsaw bombed. General mobilization proclaimed in England, ditto in France plus martial law. [Radio]
Foreign & General
1. Hitler’s terms to Poland boil down to return of Danzig & plebiscite in the corridor, to be held 1 year hence & based on 1918 census. There is some hanky panky about time the terms were presented, & as they were to be answered by night of 30.8.39,(sic.) H.(the Old Fellow) claims that they are already refused. The Daily Telegraph.
2. Naval reservists and rest of army and R.A.F. reservists called up. Evacuation of children etc. begins today, involving 3m. people & expected to take 3 days. [Radio; undated]
3. Russo-German pact ratified. Russian armed forces to be further increased. Voroshilov’s speech taken as meaning that Russo-German alliance is not contemplated. The Daily Express.
4. Berlin report states Russian military mission is expected to arrive there shortly. Daily Telegraph.

Dark days ahead.

One of the few survivors of the Polish military response on that day is 94 year old Ignacy Skowron, who recalls the sight of the German cruiser, Schleswig-Holstein shelling the free city of Danzig.

“I took the telescope and looked out at the channel, first right, then left and then at the cruiser which was moored in the bay,” Ignacy Skowron remembered. “At that moment I saw a flash of red and the first shell hit the gate,”

The attack began at 0445. Simultaneously, the German Wehrmacht poured across the frontier of Poland from the west, north and south.

Two days later Britain and France declared war on Germany.

The then 24-year-old Cpl Skowron was one of just 182 Polish soldiers defending the military transit depot on the Westerplatte peninsula.

“I grabbed a machine gun,” said Mr Skowron. “We got the order and we started to fight back. The cruiser then sailed into the channel and started to fire shell after shell at us. I saw huge trees being snapped in two.”

Haunted memories.

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