September 1, 2009

When The Poles Invaded Germany

When thinking about the Nazis, we tend to think of them as utter and complete scumbags, sociopaths and criminals all. This is correct, but it's not only because of the death camps. Take a wander over to The Edge of the American West and read about Operation Fall Weiß.

It's no coincidence that Operation Fall Weiß happened eight days after the announcement of the the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on August 23, 1939, which was unquestionably Hitler's master stroke in diplomacy. With the stroke of a pen, Hitler was able to close off a front and shift the balance of power in Europe such that he suddenly had enough assets to credibly mount a war of conquest. And, like Caesar and Pompey twenty centuries previously, carve out for himself a big chunk of land to take for his very own.

To provide a moral gloss on his planned invasion of Poland was the really audacious part of his plan. On August 31, 1939, SS troops dressed in Polish uniforms and "invaded" a German radio station near the border, "killing" innocent civilians and a few border guards along the way. "Casualties" were left behind dressed in both Polish and German uniforms. In fact, the "casualties were political dissidents and Jews who had been freshly murdered. Hitler appeared before the Reichstag the next day (seventy years ago today), dressed in a bloody coat, which he claimed had belonged to one of the German guards who had died defending against the unprovoked invasion by Poland, and vowed that "from now on, bombs will be met with bombs." The Anschluss had come to Poland.

Now, the western powers had finally had enough at this point. War was declared in response to Hitler stepping up to take "his" half of Poland. And thus on September 1, 1939, the Second World War began.

The thing of it is, if it were stage-managed well enough, Operation Fall Weiß might have fooled a gullible press even today. Given the lack of ubiquity of cameras and internet links in 1939, who knows? There might be people who even today would apologize for the misunderstood, maligned, peace-loving Nazis.

Oh, wait, there are. That article, at least, should be an acid test for separating the sane ones from the crazies.

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