As I mentioned in my previous post, September 1st, 2009 marked the 70th anniversary of the start of the Second World War. World War II. "The Big One." Or, as I prefer to think of it, "The War to End All Wars: The Sequel."
(Hm. All things considered, that whole "the war to end all wars" concept didn't really take, did it? Never mind.)
Anyway, I'm going to tell you a little story about the very first casualty of that war. You may already know this story; I myself only learned of it a few days ago.
(The tone of today's post -- until the very end, at least -- is a tad different from Tuesday's playful little "gotcha" post about WWII's beginning, by the way.)
In the early evening of August 31, 1939, seven SS officers disguised as Polish citizens burst into a radio station in the town of Gliwice (Gleiwitz), a German town on the border of Poland. Ordering the station's guards and three engineers to offer no resistance, Sturmbannführer Alfred Naujocks and five of his six elite SS men watched as their seventh member, Polish-speaking Karl Hornack, spoke the following into the station's microphone: "Uwage! Tu Gliwice. Rozglosnia znajduje sie w rekach Polskich." (Attention! This is Gliwice. The broadcasting station is in Polish hands.)
The "news" that made its way across Europe was that the "Polish invaders" were eventually repelled by German police.
As "proof" that the attack on the station had been carried out by Poles, the SS had shot and killed a 43-year-old unmarried farmer named Franciszek (Franz) Honiok. A drugged Honiok had "accompanied" the seven SS men after having been arrested by the SS on the previous day, having been casually chosen for his fateful part in the Germans' ruse.
They left Honiok's body on the station steps, with a bullet in his forehead. He had been dressed in a Polish uniform which the Germans had stolen.
Hitler used this "attack" -- and other ridiculous stories -- as his excuse to invade Poland on the very next day.
In 1958, nearly twenty years later, when confronted with the details of the raid on the radio station, Sturmbannführer Alfred Naujocks admitted his role: "Yes, I started it all. I don't think anyone will bother about me now."
Unfortunately, Naujocks was right. In a severe miscarriage of justice, Naujocks was never to stand trial for war crimes. He died in 1960 (although some claim he died as late as 1966).
(If you're interested in reading more about this incident, you can click here and/or here.)
So, in "honor" of Uncle Adolf, Alfred Naujocks, and all the rest of those Nazi bastards, let's have a little singalong, shall we (with Thanx and a Tippo to Skip Simpson, who did the same type of thing in last week's Theme Thursday post on his blog)?
(To the tune of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band")
It was sev'nty years ago today,
Hitler needed an excuse to prey.
Seems he wanted to attack the Poles,
An' justify it by reversing roles.
The attack by Poland was a lie,
And Honiak was 'Dolf's fall guy!
But Germany still overran the laaaaand!
Thanks for your time.