Our troops have entered Poland. This confused everything in my head for a moment. Of course, the goal is a worthy one, “to save our brothers”… But what about the pact with the Germans? Everyone is thinking about the same question: will this not be a violation of the pact?
We will set aside the official version …
We’ve been in Lwow for almost a week. The city is surrounded. Food is in short supply. Sometimes I get up at dawn and stand in a long line to get bread. Apart from that, we’ve been spending all day in a bunker, listening to the terrible whistling of bullets and explosions of bombs. God, please save us. Some bombs destroyed several tenement houses, and three days later they dug people out from the rubble, alive. Some people are sleeping in the bunkers; those brave enough to sleep at home have to wake up several times each night and run downstairs to their cellars. This life is terrible. We’re yellow, pale from this cellar life—from the lack of water, comfortable beds and sleep.
I have received your telegram stating that as the result of the bombing by German aircraft of Polish towns and villages possessing no considerable military objective thousands of the civil population of Poland are dead or wounded.
It had been my hope following the receipt from the several belligerent powers of the replies to my appeal of September 1, in which they stated their intentions to limit the operations of their air forces to military objectives, that the world would be spared the horror of witnessing during this war the bombing of open towns and villages and the slaughtering of thousands of innocent and defenceless men, women, and children.
In view of the hundreds of thousands of lives which may be at stake, it is my earnest hope that the Governments of the belligerent countries will renew their orders prohibiting the practice of bombing civilians in unfortified centers of population from the air, and that they will take measures to assure themselves that their respective air forces are showing that regard for the lives of non-combatants which their replies to my appeal of September 1 have led the world to expect.
Yesterday Radio Moscow announced a piece of terrifying information. The Soviet army has crossed the Polish-Russian border and penetrated into the western Ukraine and western White Russia with the intention of annexing these lands to Soviet Russia. Now the cat is out of the bag. In the Hitler-Stalin pact, which took the whole world by surprise, there was a secret paragraph that has not been revealed. The other side (England and France) would not present Stalin with as meaningful a historical achievement as the annexation of the Ukraine and White Russia; that could come about only through the destruction of Poland. Now that Poland's military might has been broken, and the government has escaped-now is the right time to act. This is the level of international morality. Just as Poland acted toward Czechoslovakia when she had the upper hand, so the Soviets act toward Poland now that they have the upper hand. When the ox is fallen, sharpen the knife
I don't know what's happening with Śmigły. Newspapers report that the whole government has crossed the border. All those ministers-officers who were so eager to wear military uniforms showed an extreme lack of interest in becoming martyrs. None of them wanted to stay with their heroic troops, which were still fighting.
The gold of the Polish Bank was exported to London.
There were military posts – ‘controls’- at each village, and sometimes where there was no village at all. We began to pass cars again, muddy, camouflaged, some bullet-marked and held together with string; one containing soldiers with bayonets fixed, though I have no idea how it could have got through. Some diplomats were taken out of their cars and walked to the police station for inspection, but we were undisturbed. Only, when we stopped for food or petrol, one question, was invariable: ‘Have you got Roumanian money? We don’t take Polish money’.
Marshal Śmigly is pessimistic. Romanians are making our lives more difficult than neutrality requires. They are separating us. The President of the Republic of Poland will go to an area near Bacau, the government will go to Siana, and the Marshal will be taken to Craiova next to the Bulgarian border. Officials will be scattered in the field, the army will be interned and the equipment taken away. It would be better to evacuate to Hungary.
The Foreign Office was less depressed by the Russian monstrosity than I had expected. Turkey seems to be standing firm, at the cost of our promising financial support on a scale vaster than we had ever contemplated. With such momentous news on everybody's lips, I find it difficult to concentrate on minor Palestinian or Arabian problems.
I lunched at the Travellers, which has fortunately reopened, and learned that the Courageous large aircraft-carrier) had been sunk! - our first naval disaster. See more
On leaving the office I called on Mary Roxburghe [Youngest daughter of Lord Crewe. John Colville’s mother's half-sister. Married to 9th Duke of Roxburghe], and found Middy Gascoigne [Hon. Mrs Gascoigne. Daughter of Lady Annabel Dodds, my mother's eldest sister, and mother of Bamber Gascoigne] already there. We discussed the situation heatedly, and condemned the Government's inactivity severely (though one can but hope they are in reality doing more than they seem. But if they are, the Ministry of Information should give some indication of the fact, or the public will begin to lose confidence). Middy was looking lovely; Mary rather ill (she is to have an operation tomorrow).
There was better news yesterday morning. I don't know if it's lies or truth. Before noon, three military men came in, demanding weapons. They came in with their revolvers out, asking for me. Stasia thought they would shoot me. She came to me in the garden, crying. They took a revolver, three shotguns (including one with a broken lock, and two good ones) and a small hunting rifle offered to me on the fifteenth anniversary of the People's Government.
It is damp and raining off and on. The area around the town is low and swampy.
Last night, I drove past the troops in a trophy car that had just been seized.
At 10:00am, the First Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Belarus, Comrade Panteleymon Kondratevich Ponomarenko arrived, and brought with him a member of the regional Military Council, Comrade Susaikov, a very unpleasant person: slanderous, unsympathetic, uncaring, basically a big “bourbon”. By this time, counterrevolution had begun to rear its head in the city of Novogrudok and its surrounding areas (at first it was dumbfounded by our sudden blow).
The Old Town was burning at night. Cannons rumbled, then went quiet. Silently, we took our things and went home. We already knew that Lublin had fallen - in the morning the Germans entered Lublin. They robbed shops and searched some houses. They didn't search ours. They took several thousand hostages, whomever they could, and they keep them near the barracks behind wires. They also took Stefek and Tadzio.
German communication: campaign in Poland is coming to an end, most of Poland is occupied, Germany has reached the Lviv – Włodzimierz – Brest – Białystok line.
Drove all day long from Berlin through Pomerania and the Corridor to here. The roads full of motorized columns of German troops returning from Poland. In the woods in the Corridor the sickening sweet smell of dead horses and the sweeter smell of dead men. Here, the Germans say, a whole division of Polish cavalry charged against hundreds of German tanks and was annihilated. On the pier of this summer resort where just five weeks ago John Gunther and I sat far into the peaceful night arguing whether the guns would go off or not in Europe, we watched tonight the battle raging around Gdynia. Far off across the sea you could see the sky light up when the big guns went. See more
Dr. Boehmer, press chief of the Propaganda Ministry in charge of this trip, insisted that I share a double room in the hotel here with Phillip Johnson, an American fascist who says he represents Father Coughlin's Social Justice. None of us can stand the fellow and suspect he is spying on us for the Nazis. For the last hour in our room here he has been posing as anti-Nazi and trying to pump me for my attitude. I have given him no more than a few bored grunts.
Daladier spoke on the wireless two days ago. You should have seen my clerks’ passionate interest while listening to him. The Marseillaise was played at the end, and many eyes glistened with tears while the brave lads stood rigidly to attention. I think that at this moment, millions of men and women, in France, in the Maginot Line, in billets, and in barracks, in Paris, in the most distant villages, are consumed by the same flame of love for France and the certainty of victory.
The news from Warsaw is disastrous; will our intervention be in time? When the Stuttgart traitor broadcasts his tall yarns and heavy jokes, what bursts of sarcastic laughter come from our men; this so-called Frenchman has not our style, he is completely Germanized – ‘bochified’.
It's incredibly boring. The weather is fine. The ocean is blue.
Everyone is afraid of the USSR. Everyone trembles. No one knows what's going on between Hitler and Stalin - what is the deal, what about their pact. Which one of them will fool the other?
As forerunner of the Russians there appeared a young officer in an armored reconnaissance car, who informed us that a Russian Tank Brigade was on its way. Then we received information concerning the demarcation line which the Foreign Ministry had agreed; this surrendered Brest to the Russians, since the Bug was to be the boundary. We did not regard this as a very advantageous decision; and finally we were informed that we only had until 22nd of September in which to evacuate the territory east of the line of demarcation. This was so little time that we could not even move all our wounded or recover our damaged tanks. It seems unlikely that any soldier was present when the agreement about the demarcation line and the cease fire was drawn up.
When I returned home in the evening the order for the attack on Warsaw here! The 3rd Army wishes to regroup and proposes the 21st [September] as the attack date. I asked that they reconsider the deadline, for I have the impression that the planned regrouping cannot be carried out by the 21st. 4th Army [Kluge] will send the 3rd Army [Küchler] heavy artillery, engineers and tanks, which will help and be of some use to it.
A demarcation line has been established between the Russians and us. Beginning tomorrow 4th Army will pull back behind this line.