Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
After swallowing up Austria and Czechoslovakia, Hitler set his sights on Poland, which Britain and France had pledged to help if it were ever attacked. Germany's way was paved by a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union, and Poland was quickly smashed by the German blitzkrieg. Two days after the invasion of Poland, Britain and France declared war. An excerpt from The Post of Sept. 1, 1939:
Adolf Hitler proclaimed to his army today his intention of meeting "force with force," and ordered a blockade of the Polish port of Gdynia.
Shortly afterward, Albert Forster, chief of state of the Free City of Danzig, declared its reunion with Hitler's Reich, accepted by Hitler, and dispatches from Gleiwitz reported the sound of artillery fire.
Although Hitler's "orders of the day" to his army did not mention a declaration of war, the German radio warned all foreigners in Poland they were in dangerous territory.
Reports reaching Warsaw said four Polish cities, including Krakow, Katowice, Tczew and Czestocohowa had been bombed by German airplanes early this morning. Warsaw itself was alarmed by air-raid sirens.
Fighting was reported to have broken out at Danzig.
Hitler's proclamation to the army read:
"Germans in Poland are victims of a bloody terror, driven from house and home.
"A series of border violations unbearable for a great power show that the Poles no longer are willing to respect the German border.
"To put an end to these insane incitations, nothing remains but for me to meet force with force from now on.
"The German army will conduct a fight for honor and the right to the life of the resurrected German people with firm determination.
"I expect that every soldier, mindful of the great traditions of the eternal German military, will do his duty to the last.
"Remember always that you are representatives of the National Socialist Great Germany. Long live our people and our Reich!"
Hitler gave his orders to his army at 5:30 a.m. (11:30 p.m., E.S.T., Thursday).
The command was issued as the order of the day to the army massed on Polish frontiers from the Baltic to the high Tatra Mountains, and in East Prussia.
No instruction was made public, however, for any action. ...
The radio announced immediately an indefinite closing of all schools in Germany.
Rapid fire orders followed commanding masters of German vessels to get out of the Baltic Sea and not to enter the Danzig or Polish harbors.