Today in History
1.9.1939: Beginning of Second World War
Hitler did not see war as “the continuation of politics by other means”, as Eberhard Jaeckel described it in reference to the famous quote by military strategist Clausewitz. For Hitler war was the true political method. On the first page of his book, “Mein Kampf” – “My Struggle”, published in July 1925, he wrote: “When the borders of the Reich (Kingdom) stretch to contain every single German but without being able to nourish him, the desperate nature of the situation creates a moral obligation to take foreign soil. The plough then becomes the sword and the tears of war will bear as their fruit the daily bread of later generations.”

Relations to Poland had already been under constant strain during the Weimar Republic era. Neither the government nor any of the political parties wanted to recognise the new Eastern border as laid down in the Treaty of Versailles. This established Gdansk as a “free city” and created a “Polish corridor”, separating Germany from its province of East Prussia.

Hitler had surprised the world and the people of Germany by signing a pact of non-aggression with Poland in 1934, committing both countries to 10 years of peaceful negotiations. Hitler needed the pact in order to establish a mask of his regime’s peaceful intentions to the outside world, while internally he continued to set up the structures for a National Socialist dictatorship.

Hitler said, “Furthermore, non matter how great the future differences between the two countries, any benefits from solving them by military means would be outweighed by the catastrophic consequences of those means. The German Government is pleased that the Head of the Polish state today, Marshall Pidludski, is of the same liberal opinion. A pact which formalises this approach will be of benefit not only to the peoples of Germany and Poland but will be a major contribution to peace in general.”

The so-called “annexation” of Austria in March 1938 to the “Greater German Empire” was seen abroad as an internal matter for Germany, given that the Austrians seemed to agree with the move.

But German plans to destroy Czechoslovakia were stopped by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1938. Together with France and Germany the Munich Agreement was signed, and Hitler had to be satisfied with the Sudeten territories.

Although Chamberlain thought he had ensured “peace in our time”, it only took until March 1939 for Hitler to begin his campaign for the rest of Czechoslovakia. The country was then integrated into the Reich under the title of, “Protectorates of Bohemia and Moravia”. Slovakia had declared its independence and became a puppet state.

On 23rd August Hitler created a global sensation when he presented a pact of non-aggression with a nation which he had previously declared to be his bitter enemy, the Soviet Union. In a secret additional agreement, Hitler and Stalin had defined their territorial interests in Europe. Germany declared itself uninterested in Finland, Estonia and Latvia, but laid claim to Lithuania. Perhaps the Soviet Union was interested in Bessarabia? In Southeastern Europe, Polish territory was redistributed between Hitler and Stalin.

Hitler not only returned fire from 5.45 am on the 1st of September 1939, he also said:
"Those who do not comply with the laws for humane military action cannot expect us to do anything less than this. I shall wage this war until the security of the Reich is ensured and its rights observed.”

Two days later Great Britain and France declared war on the German Reich. The Second World War had begun.
Zitat des Tages
Zitat des Tages
German composer Engelbert Humperdinck is known for writing which opera?
  The Marriage of Figaro
  Hansel and Gretel