3 Sept 1939 – England & France Declare War on Nazi Germany

Seventy years ago today, as the German blitzkrieg advances into western Poland toward Krakow, the English and French governments declare war. Behind the shock and awe of advancing German troops, the Nazi SS terrorized Poles and Jews by the thousands. Operation Tannenberg was underway. Commander Eicke’s Death’s Head regiments and Major General Heydrich’s Einsatzgruppen (security police and SD units) marched on order of Reichfurher-SS Himmler “to carry out the harshest orders without hesitation…to incarcerate or annihilate every” Nazi enemy. These killing squads numbering about 2,700 men worked behind the front lines and separate from the army under a veil of secrecy demanded by Himmler and Heydrich..[1]

The Einsatzgruppen-SS roamed through the towns severely beating, terrorizing and executing anyone in their path, namely Polish Jews. Sir Martin Gilbert shares a frightening glimpse into one such execution:

…on 3 September 1939…one of the SS groups entered Wieruszow, seizing twenty Jews…and lined them up for execution. Among them was sixty-four-year-old Israel Lewi. When his daughter, Liebe Lewi, ran up to her father to say goodbye to him, one of the SS men ordered her to open her mouth – for her ‘impudence’ – and shot her through it. She fell dead on the spot. The twenty men were then executed..[2]

For Liebe Lewi and the estimated 3,000,000 Polish Jews who were systematically exterminated, we pause to pay our respects.

 

[1] The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and The Final Solution, Richard Breitman, New York, 1991, pp. 66-67 (from Chapter 3, “Tannenberg”).
[2] Never Again: A History of the Holocaust, Martin Gilbert, New York, 2000, p. 53.

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One Response to “3 Sept 1939 – England & France Declare War on Nazi Germany”

  1. Hi Chris – very interesting. Puts the invasion of Poland in a different perspective.

    Ray

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