At 2 p.m. in Warsaw, the sounds of battle die away as the city’s leaders surrender. More than 140,000 Polish soldiers, including 36,000 of them wounded, go in the German bag. The Poles surrender in a grim ceremony to General Johannes Blaskowitz. The German general recognizes the Poles’ courage, allowing the officers to keep their swords and promising that the other ranks will only go into captivity as long as it takes to “dispose of the necessary formalities.” Blaskowitz is an old-school officer, who heartily dislikes Nazi atrocities. He even reports them to his chain of command. This forthrightness in an army of toadies will cost him his field marshal’s baton.
A Polish officer tells his captors, “A wheel always turns. This one will.”
Warsaw is indeed a wreck. The German communiqués have insisted that their bombardments have hit only military targets, but the Church of the Saviour and the Ujazden Red Cross Hospital, with its red crosses clearly marked on the roof, are among the buildings shattered by German bombs and shells.
The Germans make no effort to enter the city. “They are afraid,” a Polish officer writes in his diary, “to march their soldiers into a city which has no light and no water and is filled with the sick and the wounded and the dead.”
Hundreds of wounded Polish soldiers and civilians die who might have been saved, had medical help been offered to them. But that is not Germany’s plan for Poland. The same day, Heydrich reports with satisfaction to his superiors, that “of the Polish upper classes in the occupied territories, only a maximum of three percent is still present,” which is code for “alive.” More than 10,000 Polish teachers, doctors, priests, landowners, businessmen, and local officials have been rounded up and killed. In Western Poland, two-thirds of the 690 priests have been arrested, of whom 214 have been shot. Poland, writes British historian Sir Martin Gilbert, has “become the first victim of a new barbarism of war within war; the unequal struggle between military victors and civilian captives.”
There are uglier scenes in German prisons…at Poznan, the Germans play vicious games with their Polish prisoners, forcing them to go about on all fours and bark, in a game called “dog,” which ends with the prisoner being beaten into unconsciousness. In “rabbit,” prisoners are shot for sport as they run along interior passageways.
The hero of the Polish defense suffers a horrid fate. Mayor Stefan Starzynski, whose broadcasts electrified his citizens, is arrested by the Nazis on October 27, and imprisoned. On December 23, 1939 he is sent to Dachau concentration camp.
Mayor Starzynski dies there on November 17, 1943.
London and Paris react to the fall of Warsaw with shock and dismay, sympathy on the fate of the Poles, amazement on the speed of the Nazi advance, anger at the Soviet connivance in the partition of Poland, and a certain shame at not having been able to have helped resist the invasion. The British also expand their fear that the Germans won their incredible victory not through ordinary force of arms, but through trickery, deception, espionage, and a “fifth column.” What they don’t know is that every German spy in Britain has already been arrested, in a major and secret triumph for British intelligence.
The same day, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop hits the road to Moscow for two days of negotiations with Stalin over the division of Eastern Europe. He receives a glittering welcome from the Soviets, and tough talk from Stalin and Molotov. They have two new demands: no resurrection of the Polish state in any form, which is fine with the “second Bismarck,” and that Germany cede Lithuania to the Soviet sphere in return for a chunk of central Poland originally allotted to the Soviets under the Non-Aggression Pact. Ribbentrop asks to run the latter idea through Hitler first.
Meanwhile, Hitler tells his generals he intends to attack France in November. The generals don’t think that’s such a good idea, attacking the premier army in Europe right before winter. Hitler tells the generals that “The French will not have the stuff of the Poles…they have no training in mobile warfare…the decisive element will be the English.”
Hitler also takes time to chat with Nazi Party philosopher Alfried Rosenberg, to discuss Poland’s future. Hitler tells the ponderous lightweight Rosenberg that the Poles consist of “a thin Germanic layer: underneath frightful material…The towns thick with dirt…If Poland had gone on ruling the old German parts for a few more decades everything would have become lice-ridden and decayed. What was needed now was a determined and masterful hand to rule.”
Hitler also formally establishes the Reich Chief Security Office, whose initials (in German) are RSHA, under Reinhard Heydrich, who now controls the Gestapo, the Kriminal Polizei, and the Security Service (SD). Heydrich is becoming Europe’s chief policeman, with unlimited power to act against Germany’s enemies, primarily the Jews.
On the Soviet side of partitioned Poland, tyranny is the order of the day, as well. The “Operational-Chekist Group No. 1” reports arresting 923 people, including 126 former Polish army officers, 513 people of political significance, 28 paramilitary police (“gendarmes”), 31 “police secret agents,” and 44 members of the upper-middle classes. Group No. 4, operating in the Stry area, south of Lvov, reports identifying 700 oil wells – all part of registering assets. Some 3,000 railway wagons with various petrol products, and including more than 200 containing high-grade fuel, are seized.
The British raise income tax to 7/6 in the pound, a 37.5% increase, the highest level in the nation’s history. Sir John Simon, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announces this and other tax increases in Parliament during his special war budget presentation. Surtax rates will range from 1/3 (6.25%) on incomes of £2,000 ($9,000) to 9/6 (47.5%) for incomes of over £30,000 ($134,000). Duties on tobacco, beer, and spirits are also raises. The price of a bottle of whisky will be 13/9 in future (69p/$3.07) in future. The chancellor says, “I am confident taxpayers will want to fight hard to win the war.”
Out at sea, Graf Spee’s Captain Langsdorff musters the crew at 5 p.m. As many men as possible are mustered and the rest hear the captain’s words over the tannoy (public address system or 1MC). In his smart uniform, wearing his Iron Cross, Langsdorff tells his men that the Graf Spee is now ordered to act as a commerce raider. They are headed for their first operational area off the Brazilian coast, to attack the peacetime shipping routes. The task will not be easy, but Graf Spee and her crew will do her duty. Heil Hitler.
In Berlin, Bill Shirer attends the big press briefing where the Germans modestly claim to have sunk the Ark Royal with one bomb. Shirer notes that the engagement is the first battle between a naval fleet and an airplane. Not so – aircraft have been used to bomb ships in the Spanish Civil War.
“Berlin gives us absolutely no information,” Ciano fumes to his diary. He also gets a report from one of his diplomats on the Luftwaffe’s pounding of Warsaw. “(The Luftwaffe) is absolutely pitiless and has constantly dropped bombs on the civilian population, but the German horrors are surpassed a thousand times by the unspeakable horrors of the Bolshevik advance.”
The first men arrive at Camp Hopu Hopu in New Zealand to form the 2nd New Zealand Division’s Artillery units. They are formed into the 4th, 5th, and 6th Field Regiments, with the 7th for Anti-tank duties.
The same day, the first men arrive at Camp Ngaruawahia to form the Divisional Cavalry Regiment, which consists of six Bren carriers.
Sir Alexander Cadogan meets with Russia’s Ambassador Ivan Maisky. Not much is gained by either side. Writes Cadogan, “Quite useless talking to him – he knows nothing and is told nothing by his government.”
U-30 under its skipper, Fritz-Julius Lemp, the conqueror of the Athenia, arrives in Wilhelmshaven in terrible shape – one diesel engine out, the other barely turning over. Admiral Doenitz sends a minesweeper to tow her in, but Lemp proudly refuses help and the U-boat shuffles into the Jade under her own power. Parading on deck with the begrimed, bearded crew is a live turkey, Alfonso, bought in Iceland to augment rations, but adopted as a mascot.
Everybody knows that Lemp’s U-boat polished off Athenia, but the crew is told to keep the truth secret – even the log book is altered – to support Goebbels’ propaganda lies that the British placed a bomb on the liner.
Lemp’s patrol is outstanding – three ships sunk, including Athenia, and a safe return after surviving depth-charging attacks and severe battle damage. But the scores of the first seven Salzwedel Flotilla are otherwise disappointing. For the first 16 days in the Altantic, they have only sunk 14 ships and three trawlers by torpedo, gun, and demolition, and captured one prize.
Nonetheless, the U-boat crews return to a hero’s welcome. Hitler and Raeder go up to Wilhelmshaven and pass out praise and medals. The man of the hour is Otto Schuhart, commander of U-29, who polished off Courageous. He also claims two tankers and a total bag of 41,905 tons, a record for a single patrol that will stand for a long time. Lemp with 23,206 tons is the runner-up, but since Athenia can’t be credited, second place goes to Wilhelm Rollmann in U-34, who sank two ships for 11,400 tons and took a 2,500-ton prize.