The German Army advances towards Krakow

A German half track in Poland

Wilhelm Pruller was with the German Army as it invaded Poland, though he does not record which unit he was with. He clearly believed in the cause he was fighting for. His diary is peppered with references reflecting current Nazi propaganda. For example “ it’s unthinkable for us … as the greatest European Power to sit back and watch the the presecution of the Volksdeutche [the ethnic Germans then living in Poland] without doing something”. As such his is a valuable record of the views held by many Germans. But also he records his personal experiences with great immediacy and vividness:


Following night patrol, we proceed at 5.00 towards Krakow. Yesterday some of us were killed, and many wounded. Enemy artillery fires against us. We destroy it. Altogether, I’ve a great deal of faith in our weapons. Yesterday the Poles were [not] ready for battle for the umpteenth time. They continue to withdraw. They should face and fight us in a decent and manly way. But not a bit of it!

Our road to Krakow is marked by burning villages, which were set on fire by the artillery, or by us if we encountered any resistance. Yesterday evening the whole countryside was red with fire.
7.00 in the morning: we haven’t had anything to eat since yesterday at 2.30 a.m. Our usual meal consists of black coffee for breakfast, tea and something warm for supper. But you can keep going on that, because now and then Schmalz (fat) or Leverwurst turns up, and during the day we feed ourselves on beets, fruit and so on. 9.15: finally we get coffee. How good that tasted!

12.30-1 o’clock: momentous fight with Polish machine-gun emplacement very solidly entrenched. At last we were able to chuck them out. Stuparits and I went up forward right to the line, but the munition boys couldn’t get to us. It was tough. But we came through it. At 7.00 p.m. we are told that we’re to go somewhere else. Our orders are now completed. Three divisions have met. The road to Krakow is open, and we’re 35 miles away. But we’re still moving. Where to? We left at 20.00. Only four days of war! But full of danger and wonderful experiences! Today I’m still alive, and so are you and Lore. All of us!

See Wilhelm Pruller: Diary of a German soldier

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