Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
Seventy-nine years ago today the German Wehrmacht on the orders of Adolf Hitler invaded Poland. It began the European phase of the Second World War and by the time the war was over Europe would be devastated, Hitler would be dead, and the world changed.
Hitler, who had concluded a deal with Stalin’s Soviet Union did not believe that Britain or France would do any more than to conclude a peace after he finished Poland. Though France and Britain could have caused havoc and maybe even ended the war had they even attempted a serious campaign against Germany in September 1939, they did not. Hitler’s gamble which gave great concern to his Generals paid off. Poland was defeated, and with his pact with Stalin in place, Hitler was able to turn his attention to the West.
Hitler’s biographer, the late German historian Joachim Fest wrote:
In spite of all expenditures in the preceding years Germany was armed only, for the war that Hitler launched on September 1, not for the war of September 3. The army did consist of 102 divisions, but only half of these were active and battle-ready. The state of its training left much to be desired. The navy was distinctly inferior to the British and even to the French fleets; not even the strength permissible under the Anglo-German Naval Treaty of 1935 had been attained. Shortly after the Western declarations of war reached Berlin, Grand Admiral Raeder declared tersely that the German fleet, or rather “the little that is finished or will be finished in time, can only go down fighting honorably.” The air force alone was stronger than the forces of the enemy; it had 3,298 planes at its disposal. On the other hand, the ammunition supply had been half consumed by the end of the Polish campaign, so that the war could not have been actively continued for even three or four weeks. At Nuremberg, General Jodi called the existing reserves at the outbreak of the war “literally ridiculous.” Troop equipment also amounted to considerably less than the four-month stock that the High Command of the army had demanded. Even a small-scale attack from the West in the fall of 1939 would probably have brought about Germany’s defeat and the end of the war, military experts have concluded.
But Hitler’s war went far beyond a typical military invasion, occupation and revision of borders or exploitation of economic resources. Hitler’s invasion of Poland was his first movement to achieve Lebensraum “living space” in the East. It was also a racial war where the less than human inhabitants of that space, especially the Jews would be expelled from their homes, driven into ghettos, and eventually exterminated. In Poland the victims included the Polish intelligentsia, professors, priests, military officers, government officials, nobility; anyone who might be able to lead a revolt.
By invading Poland Hitler had abandoned politics which had served him so well against, party rivals, domestic opponents, and later European and World leaders. After Poland Hitler rejected political options and pressed forward with war. Fest wrote:
One of the striking aspects of his behavior is the stubborn, peculiarly blind impatience with which he pressed forward into the conflict. That impatience was curiously at odds with the hesitancy and vacillations that had preceded earlier decisions of his. When, in the last days of August, Göring pleaded with him not to push the gamble too far, he replied heatedly that throughout his life he had always played vabanque. And though this metaphor was accurate for the matter at hand, it hardly described the wary, circumspect style with which he had proceeded in the past. We must go further back, almost to the early, prepolitical phase of his career, to find the link with the abruptness of his conduct during the summer of 1939, with its reminders of old provocations and daredevil risks. There is, in fact, every indication that during these months Hitler was throwing aside more than tried and tested tactics, that he was giving up a policy in which he had excelled for fifteen years and in which for a while he had outstripped all antagonists. It was as if he were at last tired of having to adapt himself to circumstances, tired of the eternal talking, dissimulation, and diplomatic wirepulling, and were again seeking “a great, universally understandable, liberating action.”
Hitler having brought about the destruction of Europe died by his own hand in his bunker having determined that the German people were not worthy of him. The conflict which he bathed in the mythological understandings of Wagner and Paganism was also an eschatological war. Race and Lebensraum overrode all sense of ethics, morality, and even diplomacy that might lead to long term alliances with partners that shared shared mutual interests. Instead, Hitler’s most base instincts, hatred, and the racist desire to establish his mythological Aryan Race as the overlords of Poland, and the. Of every other conquered nation put him in a league of his own.
Morally, too, he now crossed the boundary that made the war irrevocable. In the same conversation he demanded the repression of any sign “that a Polish intelligentsia is coming forward as a class of leaders. The country is to continue under a low standard of living; we want to draw only labor forces from it.” Territory that went far beyond the borders of 1914 was incorporated into the Reich. The remainder was set up as a general government under the administration of Hans Frank; one part was subjected to a ruthless process of Germanization, the other to an unprecedented campaign of enslavement and annihilation. And while the commandos, the Einsatzgruppen, commenced their reign of terror, arresting, resettling, expelling, and liquidating—so that one German army officer wrote in a horrified letter of a “band of murderers, robbers and plunderers”—Hans Frank extolled the “epoch of the East” that was now beginning for Germany, a period, as he described it in his own peculiar brand of bombastic jargon, “of the most tremendous reshaping of colonizing and resettlement implementation.”
Diplomacy has no place in eschatology. Interestingly, the same day he signed an order for a euthanasia program directed against the weakest members of his own German nation. In his worldview the handicapped, the mentally ill, and others with any kind of disability were life unworthy of life. They were a drain on society.
Anyway, this is enough for the night. I shall refrain from an comparisons with the current American President or the authoritarian and racist leaders taking power in parts of Europe.
The ghosts of the past seldom remain there and often return with a vengeance when awakened by the same forces that unleashed them then.
8 responses to “Hitler Invades Poland, 79 Years Later: Race, Lebensraum, and the Rape of Europe”
Excellent post and I sure can see the similarity ..history does seem to repeat with just a change of characters and a little plot twist, but the basics are always there, sadly.
There is a lot of study and debate now on the events leading into WWII. Some put more of the blame on the Russians. The theory is Stalin was planning to invade Germany and Eastern Europe. There are others who question whether Hitler ever had any interest in Western Europe and would not have invaded France had not Britain and France declared war on Germany. Studies will go on as more writings and papers emerge about the people who were alive and participating at the time.
Actually all the “new evidence” is based to the claims of Viktor Suvorov which have been discredited by most serious historians. They have been been renewed by some modern Russian Nationalist historians as well as given a lot of play by the Institute for Historical Review, a Pro-Nazi and Holocaust Denial organization. They masquerade as an actual historical journal but are nothing more than a revisionist history site, whose major hitters include David Irving whose works have been discredited and who lost a defamation suit in England in which he attempted to accuse American historian Deborah Lippstadt of libel for identifying him as a Holocaust denier.
Occasionally their claims make it into the British media where they briefly create a stir. These claims have been strongly refuted by David Glantz and Anthony Beevor as well as other historians of the period.
I came here to reflect on the 79th anniversary of the invasion of my homeland, Poland, but what I found was more Trump derangement-syndrome. It is a disgrace to even put Trump in the same sentence as Hitler, but you on the left have no shame. You keep proving that liberalism is truly a mental disorder. Thank got Poland and most of Eastern Europe has testosterone that America has seem to have lost. Good day.
Good bye Fascist… don’t ever come back.
Exactly what I thought you would say. Typical leftist coward who cannot handle the truth. Good luck in your single brain cell echo chamber.
You came here to insult me and said I had Trump Derangement Syndrome . I am not a leftist. I shot back because you jumped me. But you are symbolic of Trump’s Cult. When someone opposes a would be dictator it does not make them a leftist. I am a career military officer and combat veteran. I called you a Fascist because of your initial comments directed at me and the fact that you defended Poland and Hungary which are rapidly drifting into Fascist regimes, which by they way both were before WWII. In fact Poland helped Hitler carve up Czechoslovakia. That was my evidence. You won’t bully me. I fight back. I routinely have my life threaded by White Nationalists and Neo Nazis, your pathetic insults don’t scare me.
Instead of a mature response, you lower yourself to the bottom, parroting the same old words from the leftist playbook. Anyone who does not agree with you is:
4) now “Fascist”
In other words you cannot defend yourself, nor can you think for yourself. Astoundingly pathetic. What a tool! We see right through you.