September 1939

Sep

29

1939

The survivors emerge into a ruined Warsaw

Janina Bauman was 13, the daughter of a surgeon, when war broke out. She had spent the days of the bombardment huddled in a cellar with her sister Jadwiga and many others. Now they needed food: We returned to our flat covered now with thick layers of broken glass, white dust and black soot. Cold […]

Sep

27

1939

Warsaw surrenders

Sep

26

1939

Churchill raises spirits in the Commons

The effect of Winston’s speech was infinitely greater than could be derived from any reading of the text. His delivery was really amazing and he sounded every note from deep preoccupation to flippancy, from resolution to sheer boyishness. One could feel the spirits of the House rising with every word. It was quite obvious afterwards that the Prime Minister’s inadequacy and lack of inspiration had been demonstrated even to his warmest supporters.

Sep

26

1939

Warsaw suffers constant bombing and shelling

I lay among the ruins, trapped to the waist. With great effort I managed to get my legs out of the debris. The German positions were about five hundred meters away, and when I got out, I saw that our house had been completely destroyed; there were no signs of life. I reached the shelter in the house next door, where I found my parents and my two sisters. Obviously, the other members of the family had all been killed.

Sep

25

1939

The final assault on Warsaw

How I survived those two days I do not know. A splinter of shrapnel killed someone sitting next to me in our friends’ bedroom. I spent two nights and a day with ten people standing in a tiny lavatory. A few weeks later, when we wondered how it had been possible, and tried to squeeze ourselves in there again, we found that only eight people could possibly fit in unless they were in terror for their lives.

Sep

22

1939

U.S. War Department Film : The Invasion of Poland

US War Department commentary on original German footage of the invasion of Poland.

Sep

21

1939

Reasons for the Polish collapse

The initial attacks on aerodromes, flying schools and aircraft factories crippled the Polish air force. Subsequent air attacks on the railways and on columns of troops reduced the mobility of the Polish ground forces most seriously and prevented the development of an effective counter offensive. Later, air attacks on the headquarters of the Polish armies and government paralysed the direction of the country’s military and civil activities. These attacks were particularly effective, as the Germans frequently succeeded in locating headquarters either through the espionage system or by directional wireless.

Sep

21

1939

Heydrich directs the Einsatzgruppen to establish Jewish ghettos

‘For the time being, the first prerequisite for the final aim is the concentration of the Jews from the countryside into the larger cities. This is to be carried out with all speed.’

Sep

20

1939

Victor Klemperer listens to Hitler’s speech

Yesterday afternoon I heard the greater part of the Fuhrer’s speech over the loudspeaker at the Freiheitskampf office on Bismarckplatz. Some of it rhetorically very effective. The Polish soldiers fought very bravely, the junior officers did their duty, the middle ranks lacked intelligence, the commanding officers were all bad, the organisation was Polish.

Sep

20

1939

The German and Soviet armies meet up