The battle for the Corridor was approaching its end.
The troops had fought brilliantly and were in good spirits. The casualties among our other ranks were small, but our losses of officers had been disproportionately heavy, for they had thrown themselves into battle with the greatest devotion to duty. General Adam, State Secretary von Weizsäcker, and Colonel Freiherr von Funk had each lost a son.
On the 3rd of September I had visited the 23rd Infantry and 3rd Panzer Divisions and had thus had the opportunity of seeing my son Kurt and also the towers of Kulm, my birthplace, glittering in the sunshine on the far bank of the Vistula.
The Corridor was pierced. We were available for fresh employment. While we had been fighting hard, the political situation had taken a serious turn for the worse. England and, under pressure from England, France had declared war on the Reich; this destroyed our hope of an early peace. We found ourselves engaged in a second World War. It was plain that it must last a long time and that we would need all the fortitude of which we were capable.
I regret to inform the House that a signal was received in the Admiralty at about 11 p.m. last night giving the information that the steamship "Athenia" had been torpedoed in a position about 200 miles north-west of Ireland at 8.59 p.m. Orders had already been given by local Commanders for destroyers to proceed to her assistance, and by shortly after midnight four destroyers were proceeding at high speed towards the position. They should have been near the position by about 10 a.m. this morning. A further signal was received from the Master of the ''Athenia'' at about 1 a.m. this morning stating that there were 1,400 passengers, some of whom were still on board, and that the ship was sinking fast. See more
I need scarcely say that the utmost endeavours will be used to employ all our means of escorts to their fullest possible capacity, and to adopt such other methods as may be necessary for vessels which fall outside the class and cannot at this moment be convoyed. We have every belief that the convoy system will be brought into complete operation at a comparatively early date. In the meanwhile all that is possible is being done.
And so, the scariest thing has happened: a major war has begun. I didn’t think that I would have to live through such a thing twice! I was firmly convinced that after the pact was signed with the Soviet Union that the Polish question would be solved through peaceful means. It would appear that Great Britain wasn’t able to agree to a “second Munich”. Chamberlain would have been torn to pieces if he had done that again… But the situation is still tragic! I really cannot any more… I can’t take pleasure in the diplomatic success which we achieved here in Moscow. Maybe, it wasn’t even a good thing for Germany at all! But now that is all in the hands of fate.
I talked to some of the prisoners brought in to Warsaw. They certainly didn't look like imperialistic goose-steppers to me. Simple fellows, like their Polish adversaries. As a matter of fact, not a single one of them knew that England and France were fighting Germany on another front. They had been called up for what they thought were autumn military maneuvers. And first thing they knew, there they were in Poland and ordered to fire back at the Poles who had "suddenly tried to invade Germany."
I left at 7 am yesterday. The entire hospital saw me off and they gave me flowers. I'm going to Lublin by car with my wife and my little son. There's heavy traffic on the roads - even though it's Sunday. The closer we get to Lublin, the more peasant wagons we see going in the opposite direction. There are also a lot of buses coming from Lublin, overcrowded with people, piles of suitcases and bundles.
Broadcast to German people
You are told by your Government that you are fighting because Poland rejected your Leader's offer and resorted to force. What are the facts? The so-called "offer" was made to the Polish Ambassador in Berlin on Thursday evening, two hours before the announcement by your Government that it had been "rejected." So far from having been rejected, there had been no time even to consider it.
Your Government had previously demanded that a Polish representative should be sent to Berlin within twenty-four hours to conclude an agreement. At that time the 16 Points subsequently put forward had not even been communicated to the Polish Government. The Polish representative was expected to arrive within a fixed time to sign an agreement which he had not even seen. This is not negotiation. This is a dictate. To such methods no self-respecting and powerful State could assent.
“Fill the sandbags” was the drill. First, we had to get the sand from the Isar River. The householders loaned us shovels and pails. The pails, when full, danced wildly and sometimes tumbled off when the wagon drove over a bumpy road. As we worked, we talked about the introduction of food stamps and of the nightly black-out procedures. These are things that we are not used to yet. The Führer is at the front. Ostoberschlesien is in German hands.
A big British passenger steamer with 1,400 people on board has been torpedoed by the Germans, who deny having done it and claim the ship must have run into a mine. But the British wouldn’t have laid mines off the north-west coast of Scotland. I believe all the surviving passengers were rescued (60 died, no, more, 128?), some of them by Wenner-Gren on the Southern Cross, out on a pleasure trip with his tanks full of the oil he’s been hoarding. He’s been scolded roundly in the press for his crazy stockpiling. See more
The British mounted a bombing raid over Germany and dropped not bombs but leaflets – saying that the British people don’t want to be at war with the German people, only with the Nazi regime. The British presumably hope there’ll be a revolution in Germany. It’ll annoy Hitler, at any rate. He’s decreed hard labour for anyone caught listening to foreign radio stations and the death penalty for those spreading information from foreign broadcasts to other citizens.
A bomb from an unidentified plane fell on Esbjerg in peaceable little Denmark, destroyed a house and killed two people, one of them a woman.
Reported to the Führer in his train in the morning, then drove to Headquarters, 4th Army [Kluge], IInd Army Corps [Strauss], 3rd Division [Lichel]. The Führer went to the hill near Topolno as the 3rd Division was crossing the Vistula. Overwhelming impression on the Führer; Kulm, Schwetz, the Vistula in bright sunshine. The Führer said to me:
"What this means to me!"
Pride and jubilation among the troops.
Graudenz has been taken!
The surrounded elements in the corridor still fight on. Difficulty in convincing the 4th Army that "apprehending" these forces is of secondary importance and that strong mobile forces will have to be freed up for the drive to East Prussia. See more
When the Führer set out for the front there came a report that a Polish company that had fought its way through was still in the corridor east of Krone, thus right in the Führer's path. The fellows are bold! They have ambushed various rear elements and have already shot 18 of our people. The Führer is taking another route, which in my view is also not quite kosher. Suddenly small arms fire! It turns out that a German formation is firing at the Storch that is escorting the Führer's column at low level; stupidly it has no insignia. Never before have I seen a pilot land so quickly!
On the way back a Polish flyer dropped bombs near Krone; but the Führer had already passed through.
In the evening I decided to form a strong east wing near Johannisburg from part of the forces sent to East Prussia and from forces which had been freed up there, in order to attack toward Lomza.
Sometimes at the officer’s meetings rather amusing details crop up. In a tiny town the use of the church bells had been limited to sound the alert. On Sunday, when they rang for evensong, the whole population, civil and military, rushed to the trench-shelters. The General has decided that henceforth a bugle only shall be used to sound the alert.
At night we had two alarms. It was terribly cold. We all gathered in the shelter, warming one another as we slept.
Nadzia has come from Glowno. This whole war thing is beginning to leave me weary and bored. In the morning I sleep until ten.
After a cold night, the day begins nice and sunny. Once again, after about the third alarm, news both welcome and shocking reached us about the Germans having torpedoed an English passenger ship carrying several hundred exceptionally rich and influential American citizens. Eight hundred people died! And just before receiving this information, Roosevelt had announced that the United States would not stay neutral! What will he say now!?
All alarms pass calmly today. I have nothing to do except go to headquarters to listen to the radio. We sit, talk, flirt... School on Monday at long last.
Today is fairly peaceful - our artillery is driving the planes away. In the morning, there was a commotion because of the news that Germans will enter Krakow at any moment. The city is surrendering to avoid bombardments.
Authorities and offices have already been evacuated. President Czuchajowski and the magistrate director left, supposedly taking the municipal treasury with them. Heads of construction and plants directors Orzelin and Jeleński also left. With tears in his eyes, Vice-president Klimecki was trying to calm other officials down and recommending they get to work as usual. Together with Mr Meyerhold, we asked for the establishment of the Civic Committee this morning and the preparation of an appeal to the citizens and organisation of the Civic Guard.
My family, of course, sits tight and will not leave Krakow, although nearly the whole house is empty. See more
A number of young people have been leaving Krakow on foot or by bike. We fed them at our place, including the cousin of the engineer captain, who blew up bridges after the army had crossed (Jordanów). Aid raids were less severe and more distant. There are no newspapers. Illustrated Courrier DailyPolish daily newspaper left to Lvov. They will only be publishing a local edition here with a limited number of articles.
After midnight and no air-raid, even with the British and French in the war. Can it be that in this new World War they're not going to bomb the big cities, the capitals, the civilians, the women and children at home, after all? The people here breathing easier already. They didn't sleep much the first couple of nights.
On the feedback from New York tonight I heard the story of the sinking of the Athenia with 1,400 passengers, including 240 Americans, aboard. The English said it was a German U-boat. The Germans promptly denied it, though the German press and radio have been forbidden to mention the matter until tomorrow. I felt lousy talking from here at all tonight after that story and went out of my way to explain my personal position as an American broadcaster-that I had been assigned to give the news from Germany, that official statements such as the denial that a German submarine had torpedoed the Athena were part of that news, and that my orders from home were to refrain from expressing my personal opinions. The High Command has installed military censorship of everything I say, but fortunately the chief censor is a naval officer, an honourable and decent man. I have had some warm words with him the last couple of days, but within the limits of his job he has been reasonable.
A long queue formed in front of the capital's pawnshop. People wanted to buy out their valuables. Banks were equally crowded and couldn't keep up with the demand. Some of the buildings were still flying flags after yesterday's celebration. Things were happening so fast, people thought it was obvious that the allies would join the war. We were expecting British planes to appear over Poland any second now.
Meanwhile, more news came about heavy fights around Czestochowa and first news about the incredible amounts of planes used by the Germans in the first phase of the attack. Endless waves of tanks were coming; infantry was nowhere to be seen though. This strategy baffled our officers and soldiers. They were expecting a good old fight in the trenches, as they had known it from the Great War. It seems though, as the first shock wears off, we closed the ranks now.