Sunday, August 30, 2009

70th Anniversary of World War II

September 1, 2009 marks the 70th anniversary of German imperialism’s bombing and invasion of Poland. As Hammer or Anvil? Modern Germany 1648—Present by Heoger Herwig recalled, “at 4:45 a.m. on the morning of September 1, 1939, the German armored cruiser Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on Polish fortifications near Danzig as German troops crossed the border into Poland.”

According to the book The Second World War: A World In Flames:

“By 16 September [1939] the German forces had the Polish capital, Warsaw, surrounded, and they proceeded to bombard the city from the air and the ground…Warsaw eventually surrendered on 27 September [1939] with around 40,000 civilian casualties…The Poles…did manage to inflict significant casualties on the Germans. They…killed 13,000 German soldiers, wounding a further 30,000…

“The Polish campaign had been blighted by numerous acts of cruelty by German formations—SS and police units mainly…Now with Poland defeated, these isolated acts of cruelty were approved in the highest quarters of Nazi German and were formalized into a program of terror…During the years of the German occupation, six million Polish citizens died…

“As the German war machine moved eastwards, overrunning territory and population, it also encountered millions of Polish and Russian Jews. Some were shot in mass killings and many others were corralled into walled areas of major cities known as ghettos.”

The Hammer or Anvil? book also noted:

“Stuka dive bombers attacked major concentrations of Polish forces and civilian centers…Covered by a special amnesty issued by Hitler and General von Brauchitsch, five special SS execution units (Einsatzgruppen) roamed the Polish countryside and murdered preselected doctors, priests, civil servants, country squires and merchants. Reinhard Heydrich of the Security Forces [SD] crowed as early as September 27 [1939] that only 3 percent of the Polish intelligentsia survived…On September 21 [1939], Heydrich developed his initial blueprint for the Polish [and later European] Jews. The Jews were to be herded into special `reservations’ through the auspices of Councils of Jewish Elders (Judenrat) for eventual concentration in…ghettos at Warsaw, Craw, Lublin, Radon…”

The same book also recalled that “in Berlin, Adolf Hitler began the war with a lie, informing the Reichstag that regular units of the Polish army had fired on German territory.”

According to The Second World War: A World In Flames book:

“Despite Hitler’s ambition and confidence, the Germans went through an elaborate charade in order to convince the world that Germany was provoked. Men from the…SD department of the SS, under the overall direction of Reinhard Heydrich, planned an operation to precipitate the war that Hitler wanted. This operation, code-named Hindenburg, involved three simultaneous raids: the first was on the radio station at Gleiwitz, the second on the small customs post at Hochlinden, and the third on an isolated gamekeeper’s hut at Pitschen. The raids were to be conducted by men dressed in Polish uniforms, and at Gleiwitz the plan was that the attack would be heard live on radio—with the attackers’ voices, speaking in Polish and declaiming Germany, being broadcast live over the air to maximize their impact…

“…Four condemned men from the Sauchsenhausen concentration camp and a single German (a local Polish sympathizer) were murdered to provide evidence for the Polish incursions—the corpses, dressed in Polish uniforms, were photographed to complete the provocation. Despite the planning, the radio attack failed to be broadcast because of the poor strength of the transmitter. Hitler was nevertheless able to announce to the Reichstag on 1 September [1939] that `Polish troops of the regular army have been firing on our territory during the night [of 31 August/ 1 September]. Since 05.45 we have been returning that fire.’ The Second World was up and running..”

As a result of World War II, 55 million human beings were killed. The same book summarized the World War II casualty figures in Europe in the following way:

“During the five-year conflict, Germany incurred 2.8 million military and 2 million civilian deaths, including 500,000 by Western Allied strategic bombing. The Soviets suffered the worst, with 6.3 million military and perhaps 17 million civilian deaths. Europe’s other populations suffered a further 1.8 million military and 10.5 million civilian deaths, the latter including 5.5 million Jews. The three Western Allied powers incurred 700,000 military deaths in the European theater…”