Oh, God! My God! We’ve been on the road for three days now. Przemysl was attacked. We had to flee. The three of us escaped: me, Ariana and Grandpa. We left the burning city in the middle of the night on foot, carrying our bags. Granny stayed behind. Lord, please protect her. We heard on the road that Przemysl was being destroyed.
From the point of view of the civilian this war has hardly begun in earnest, and only the black-out at night, and the barrage balloons by day, remind one that Europe has finally toppled over the brink of the precipice upon which it has been balancing precariously for the last twelve months. Doubtless there is much in store for us that will dispel our cherished illusions of peace; but for the moment the war seems very unreal.
Ever since war was declared the sun has shone with unremitting splendour, and there is nothing about the gaily dressed, smiling, crowds in the streets to remind us of this great catastrophe - except perhaps for the gas-masks slung across their backs and the number of men in uniform.
I was about to enter the house to see the crater when they brought in a wounded soldier on a stretcher. Glass cracked loudly under the shoes of men carrying him down the hallway.
We laid the wounded soldier on the bed in one of the rooms. He fainted from pain.
The first signs of German occupation: they are seizing Jews to dig. A certain retired professor living in the eleventh building warned me against going downtown. A good old man—a Christian. And now what to do?
Tomorrow is the first day of school. Who knows how our dear school has been? My friends are going there tomorrow to find out what's going on, while I have to stay home. I have to! My parents say that they are not going to lose me yet. Oh, my dear school!... Damn the times when I complained about getting up in the morning and about tests. If only I could have them back!
Tonight, we made the decision to wait here for the Germans. Resignation and dumbfounded, asleep in beds and under blankets for the first time in a while. It is dark everywhere, closed shutters, curtains.
Last night men were woken up by the radio and told to leave. Men from 16 to 20 should leave – on their own, anywhere. The Germans are to find an empty country, without men, without working hands.
Our entire city is panicking. Everyone rushed to the shops, almost everything is gone from the shelves now. In our cooperative, there’s already a giant waiting list for flour, pasta, oil, cereals, etc. Marusya & I decided we won’t stockpile anything - be it as it may. But is there indeed a war going on - with whom? This is something we can’t figure out. No one declared war on us - and, surely, we won’t start a war ourselves. No one spoke about it on the radio or mentioned it in newspapers. Is this just a military exercise? It seems to be too huge. See more
Why did Nikolai not even stop by to say goodbye, even for a moment? I don’t get it. He must know where are they going and why?
How my heart aches! I have such a bad feeling about this! I barely slept. I heard footsteps at night - it seemed Kolya would come up to my window any minute now, knock on it…
I met Blum, Herriot and Daladier today. At D.’s I categorically demanded the immediate start of air operations. He categorically stated that the delay was caused only by the English, who were hiding behind the American opinion. He agreed to my demands, promised to intervene in London immediately. Here battle began, there are deaths and injuries.No news from thereabouts. I let Raczyński and my friend go. D. authorized me to ensure that any peace proposals would be categorically rejected. Herriot and Blum are as well disposed as possible. Goering's speech will not be given to the press.
The streets are sown with trenches and barricades. Machine guns have been placed on the roofs of houses, and there is a barricade in the doorway of my apartment house, just under my balcony. If fighting breaks out in the street no stone will remain upon another in the wall within which I live. We have therefore fled to my wife's sister's at 27 Nowolipki Street, which is nearby. Her apartment is supposed to be safer, since it faces a courtyard.
Hitler and Ribbentrop, having decided to attack Poland knowingly took the risk of war with the Western Powers, deluding themselves to varying degrees up to the very last with the belief that the West would remain neutral after all. The Poles for their part, with Polish conceit and Slav aimlessness, confident of British and French support, had missed every remaining chance of avoiding war. The government in London, which with its policy of guarantees and flirting with the Soviets under the effects of 15 March pursued a shallow but at least unaggressive war policy, and whose ambassador did everything to keep the peace, gave up the struggle in the very last days and adopted a devil-may-care attitude. France went through the same stages, only with much more hesitation. Mussolini did all in his power to avoid war. His proposal of mediation of 2 September offered no real hope of success because Britain no longer could or would back down. The attitude of France on this day is not quite clear. Hitler accepted Mussolini's proposal first, because he was certain that Britain would not agree to it and second, perhaps because he had realized finally that, if he invaded Poland, Britain and France would declare war. See more
In spite of all war preparations, the feeling that war has arrived has not yet penetrated the German mind. They are for the most part apathetic and still look upon it all as a sort of Party project.
The battalion is formed. We moved towards the border at night. We arrived at sunrise. The last kilometres I could barely feel my legs. When we arrived at our destination we settled in the forest. When the sun warmed us, I slept. We spent the night in camping tents.
The English loan has been approved. We must take advantage of this credit. He is afraid of formal difficulties. Wanting to remove these difficulties, I suggest taking on the position of deputy minister of treasury and power of attorney. This will be the simplest course of action and will determine responsibility.
Life seems to be slowly returning to normal, because one has to live in spite of everything. On the street there are peasant carts, farmers from nearby villages going back home with their modest belongings – and here and there also Jewish families. At noon, troops pass by again – the tram traffic is interrupted. There are rumours that Hitler himself will come to Kraków. The registration of pensioners for insurance will begin on Monday, and the rector Lehr-Spławiński also demands the registration of teachers. The citizens' committee is to move to a Catholic home. The 6:30pm curfew, when everyone has to close their gates and turn off the lights, is becoming unpleasant and burdensome.
One week after the Anglo-French declaration of a state of war the average German is beginning to wonder if it's a world war after all. He sees it this way. England and France, it is true, are formally fulfilling their obligations to Poland. For a week they have been formally at war with Germany. But has it been war? they ask. The British, it is true, sent over twenty-five planes to bomb Wilhelmshaven. But if it is war, why only twenty-five? And if it is war, why only a few leaflets over the Rhineland? The industrial heart of Germany lies along the Rhine close to France. From there come most of the munitions that are blowing up Poland with such deadly effect. Yet not a bomb has fallen on a Rhineland factory. Is that war? they ask. The long laces I saw a week ago today are not so long this Sunday.
Life here is still quite normal . The operas, the theatres, the movies, all open and jammed . Tannhauser and Madame Butterfly playing at the Opera. Goethe's Iphigenie at the State Theatre. The Metropol, Hitler's favourite show-house, announces a new revue Wednesday. The papers tonight say two hundred football matches were played in Germany today.
We were out of Piludski republic now. This was the summer residence of a Russian landowner – the Russia of another time – of which the Countess Chodkiewicz was the fitting centre.
The Countess had a stoic dignity. She realized, even then, that she might not live many days. Yet she said only:
‘Mademoiselle, do you know how far it is the Russian frontier? A hundred and fifty kilometres. It is not the Germans whom we think of here’.