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Only in the evening did the terrible truth dawn on everybody. That was when the English wireless reports on the session in the commons came through. A dreadful spectacle, even if it was only the first act and the mildest one. The German government wants war, not the German people. The French and English governments don’t want war, the French and English peoples do, to stop Hitler.


Radio offered a joyful piece of news. As of 11 am England declared war against Germany. There was a broadcast at midday and suddenly it was interrupted with the national anthems of Poland and France. The announcement was made afterwards and for the rest of the day you could hear English hymns and marches. At 5 pm France declared war against the Germans and La Marseillaise was played.


It must be assumed that Poland has a wonderful tradition of fighting for independence. The long and dark nineteenth century of uprisings and revolutions has not been in vain. It gave Poland a great sensitivity to slavery and a culture of action for freedom, and Pilsudski made this feeling even more prominent and outstanding. Polish politics and diplomacy in the last few years were disgusting: Hitler's war with Germany, systematic undermining of League of Nations, applauding to the Anschluss of Austria, insulting Lithuania by Beck's ultimatum in 1938, based on the blessing of Hitler and Mussolini and on the psychological effect of the Anschluss of Austria; confrontation to take Zaolzie from German hands in the wake of Czechoslovakian tragedy. And they have recently used the same method of annexation of Vilnius in Lithuania. Today, Poles face the consequences of these policy mistakes: Hitler has now set his sights on Poland. However, Poland is great in defense and love of freedom.


At noon the train station was bombed. Radio is broadcasting news about the declaration of war against Germany by France and England. From the speakers you can hear the sounds of La Marseillaise and God Save the King. The weather is splendid, sunny and warm. Polish troops recede towards the east. At 2 am doctor Budka called me to the office via the police station at Kosciuszki Street. Nearly all residents of 5, Dojazdowa Street sit in the laundry room, which was fitted to be gas- and bombproof. I worked in the office till 2:45 am. On Sunday there was already no phone connection with Warsaw.


England announced war at eleven o'clock in the morning, and France at five o'clock. The radio broadcasts protesting crowds in front of embassies. So it is no longer only a painful war between Poland and Germany, but a new world war. In the evening came the news that the Germans took Częstochowa. But I am still going about my business in Warsaw. And Poland has already become smaller.


At the butcher an old dear puts her hand on my shoulder and says in a voice full of tears: He has said that he will put on a soldier’s coat again and be a soldier himself, and if he falls, then Goering…. A young lady brings me my ration card, looks at me with a friendly expression: Do you still remember me? I studied under you, I’ve married into the family here.—An old gentleman, very friendly, brings the blackout order: Terrible, that it’s war again—but yet one is so patriotic, when I saw a battery leaving yesterday, I wanted more than anything to go with them! No one is outraged by the Russian alliance, people think it is brilliant or an excellent joke—Vogel’s optimism (yesterday: We’ve almost finished off the Poles, the others won’t stir themselves!) is to our benefit in coffee, sausage, tea, soap etc.—Is this the general mood in Germany? Is it founded on facts or on hubris? […]


Waiting in peaceful Dölzschen, cut off from the world, is particularly bad. One listens to every sound, watches every face, pays attention to everything. One learns nothing. One waits for the newspaper and can make nothing of it. At the moment I do tend to think that there will be war with the great powers.


War! There it is, long-awaited (extending his arms fitfully). Well then — without shoes, hungry, we will go to fight. In fact, what am I saying — they will clothe us and feed us. We are hungry here, and there we will be full. 

Everyone is in a state of nervously awaiting major events. Just like in a thunderstorm. 


Krakow is said to be cut off and railways are damaged. The evacuation of authorities and offices is being carried out by car. We don't know what the evening will bring. There’s comforting news on the radio that England and France have joined the military operations. I am looking at the damage in the Pędzichów and Staszica streets (bombers were aiming at the school), on the Planty by the theatre, at the Lubicz street (clearly aimed at the train station), and on Łobzowska street,. Broken glass on Szlak and Pędzichów Streets, many people wounded. 


A couple hundred steps away, at the corner of Pędzichów and Szlak streets, bombs set fire to a house. Later, some warehouses near the west station caught fire as well. I barely had time to wash myself and ran outside, only managing to throw on a coat.


An alarm at half past twelve at night. I curse as much as I can. In the street it's cold, dark, nasty. In the shelter we want to amuse ourselves a little, but as usual the females raise an uproar, shreiking that it's no joke, this is war. We leave for the street. Bombs and cold are better than old women. This should always be kept in mind. Long live humor; down with hysteria!


The various governments are already jawing about who’s to blame. Germany claims that Poland attacked first and that the Poles could do whatever they wanted under the protection of the Anglo-French guarantee. Here in Sweden we can’t see it any other way than that Hitler wants war, or that he can’t see any means to avoid it without losing face. It’s pretty clear that Chamberlain did his utmost to keep the peace; he gave way in Munich for no other reason. This time, Hitler demanded ‘Danzig and the Corridor’ but deep down he probably wants to rule the whole world. What line should Italy and Russia take? Polish sources say the first two days of war cost 1,500 lives in Poland.

Becomes First Lord of the Admiralty



Sunday afternoon. This torture of one’s nerves ever more unbearable. On Friday morning blackout ordered until further notice. We sit in the tiny cellar, the terrible damp closeness, the constant sweating, and shivering, the smell of mold, the food shortage, makes everything even more miserable. I try to save butter and meat for Eva and Muschel, to make do myself as far as possible with still unrationed bread and fish.


The sun is shining, it’s a nice warm day, this earth could be a lovely place to live. At 11 a.m. today Britain declared war on Germany, as did France, but I don’t know exactly what time. Germany had received an ultimatum from Britain demanding an undertaking by 11 o’clock to withdraw its troops from Poland and enter into talks, in which case the invasion of Poland would be deemed never to have happened. But no undertaking had been received by 11 o’clock and Chamberlain said in his speech to the British nation on this Sunday afternoon: ‘consequently this country is at war with Germany’.