In the newspaper yesterday (naturally therefore in all newspapers) triumphant report about the end of the Polish campaign and a touching article, “At the Soldier’s Grave of Paul Deschanel.” French First Lieutenant, son of the former Prime Minister (I think) of the Republic. Tricolor over the bier—I once had a comrade—the Marseillaise—address by a battalion commander: nothing but compliments to France, with whom we want only peace, of whom we make no demands at all…
Is that a sign of strength on the German side? Is it merely a ploy? Will the French rise to the bait? Vox populi (at Berger, the grocer):…He is in the West.—In the West yet again?—Well, it won’t last very long.—Everyone thinks: England will give way. Perhaps they will turn out to be right about that, as with the German-Russian partition of Poland. But if not, the mood would shift tremendously. For the moment people are still intoxicated by the destruction of Poland and do not know what the losses are.
My dear diary! I had a strange day today. Lwow surrendered. Not to Germany, but to Russia. The Polish soldiers were disarmed in the streets. Some, with tears in their eyes, just dropped their bayonets to the ground and watched the Russians break their rifles. I feel such grief, such great grief. Only a small handful are still fighting. Despite the order, defenders of Lwow are continuing their heroic fight to die for their homeland.
We go check out the situation in Grabowiec.
Everything has been sold. On the square in front of the cooperative, for the first time since the beginning of the war, we see two staff colonels with maps in cellophane covers sitting on a bench near the pharmacy, close by a military gendarme is pacing. It is the first time we see a gendarme during this war. We go back to Grabowczyk for dinner. We learn that in Hrubieszów there is a town official who ordered local leaders to organize a security militia in the villages. In the evening we see how one of the relatives of the village leader is refusing to join the militia, saying he has no time. We are impressed by the calm with which the village leader rejects all his arguments. At the same time, we feel that there has been a change in morale, that the first panic has been overcome and that resistance has finally begun, especially since a battalion of soldiers demobilized beyond the Bug has come to sleep here. They have food, money, etc. See more
There is a rumor that an officer stole a coat, two children’s sweaters and some feminine items from Mrs. Bieńkowska, heiress in Grabowczyk. We meet a retired captain of the Polish Army, who comes from Krasnystaw and says that he ran into his friend [Tadeusz] Stanisz beyond the river Bug, but he does not know where he is now.
In the papers this morning, one of those turns of phrase the French are so good at: ‘At the front, strategic waiting period’. (See the expressions used in 1914, quoted by Gide: the German army absorbed by France.)
On the other hand, a speech by Daladier. I didn’t hear it myself, but the secretaries all talk about it bad-temperedly. Apparently, he committed the cardinal sin of saying that the war would last a long time. ‘I don’t want to hear him’, one said, ‘every time I do, I get depressed’. And another: ‘He’s the original defeatist. We should throw him in prison’. They all harbour the obscure hope that the war will be over quickly. I have no such hope. I tried this morning to imagine a swift end to the war—in the way you might play with a loose tooth—but it did not excite me in the least. I hope for nothing, I expect nothing. The calm of a nightmare, with the war all around.
Colonel Wacław Lipiński speaking:
"Today I would like to describe the situation in general, and from a military perspective. Warsaw-Modlin is currently the most significant centre of Polish resistance. We have considerable forces here, with troops that have broken through from the West. The armies of general Kutrzeba and general Bortnowski fought an extremely heavy battle over Bzura several days ago. It was one of the bloodiest, if not the bloodiest, battles in this war. This battle will be remembered as one of the most tense and demanding in the history of all war, not only this war. "
The most interesting telegram of the day was an explanation of why the Government has been doing so little lately, and is intended for the use of H.M. Representatives abroad who are met with the complaint that we have not lifted a finger to save Poland. The gist of the Government's argument is that "strategy is the art of concentrating decisive force at the decisive moment". The Poles knew we could give them no effective help and realised that we could only save them in the long run - when Germany has been defeated. "To have devoted hundreds of British planes to bombing raids in Germany would have meant spectacular successes, but the inevitable loss of machines which will be used more effectively on the Western Front." See more
There may be something to be said for this policy, although its effect is exasperating to public opinion. Dr Brüning told somebody I know - Eric Duncannon I think - that the best way to treat Hitler is to keep him guessing, and perhaps our inactivity, if he thinks it hides some sinister purpose, may have that effect; but there is always the danger that he will take it for irresolution and degeneracy. In some circles it is thought that his first active move in the West will be a massed air-attack on the British navy and its bases.
Warsaw defends itself under the command of Generals Czuma and Rómmel. The destruction caused by the Germans is enormous. The Royal Castle is apparently destroyed, and so is the St. John Cathedral, the National Museum, the Belvedere, the Seym, and the city centre.
Polish authorities governing in neutral Romania is quite unthinkable. Therefore, all Polish representatives in other countries are at a crossroads, without contact with authorities, whose existence is problematic, and without resources. They are probably trying to communicate with Paris and London, with Polish representatives there, but everything is in a fluid state. For now, Poland is not only militarily disbanded, territorially torn apart, but also disorganized in its government centers and legal activities.
Is our sacrifice in vain? Should we bow down before the enemy? Stop fighting and give up? After what I heard today about anti-aircraft defense, definitely not! The guard assured me that British bombers are expected tomorrow. It must have been difficult to send them here, but we have to keep going.
Ah, Warsaw! It was becoming more beautiful every day, neglected and ugly for so long, it had become charming – even this last summer! Now, the castle full of art treasures and the old cathedral, Belweder Palace, the town hall (newly renovated), the Grand Theater, houses near Napoleon Square, houses on Warecka Street, the Romanian embassy, and the Soviet embassy have all been demolished. Now during air raids there aren’t seven or nine bombers, like at the beginning, but seventy! Starzyński is still there, the only dignitary who stayed – as he used to improve Warsaw, now he watches its destruction. This inconspicuous, not very eloquent, small and fat man is becoming her hero.
We arrived in Allenstein at six in the morning. There was coffee for those who had the strength to get up, and a chance to refuel from the railway wagon, free as it used to be before. I had some time to look at the co-eaters. There are a lot of frightened South Americans, unkempt Eastern Europeans and my best or worst friends from neutral European countries.
Today I prayed in the chapel for the liberation of my homeland.
In the morning, an executive meeting of the Citizens' Committee. A letter to Starzyński about participating in the Citizens' Committee. After dinner, two raids on Warsaw. Malwina Goldsoblowa is staying with us.
Today is judgment day – truly judgment day. Gunfire all night. Jaś is on duty from 4am to 8am.
On the day for handing over to the Russians a Brigadier-General Krivochin appeared, a tank man who had some knowledge of French, and with whom I could therefore converse. What the instructions of the Foreign Ministry had left undecided I now settled in a friendly fashion directly with the Russians. All our equipment could he carried away; only supplies captured from the Poles had to be left behind, since in the short time at our disposal we had not been able to organize the transport necessary for their removal. A farewell parade and salutes to the two flags in the presence of General Krivochin marked the end of our stay in Brest-Litovsk.
On the evening we arrived at Zambrov. The 3rd Panzer Division had already set off for East Prussia, with the other divisions echeloned behind. The corps was now dissolved.