Wednesday, September 02, 2009

September 1, 1939

I should be grading map exercises, but instead I've been reading blogs, and like other people, have found George Orwell's entries in his diaries (now being posted daily on the Orwell Diaries website) very poignant. For September 1, 1939, the day that Germany invaded Poland, he wrote:
Invasion of Poland began this morning. Warsaw bombed. General mobilization proclaimed in England, ditto in France plus martial law. [Radio]
Foreign & General
1. Hitler’s terms to Poland boil down to return of Danzig & plebiscite in the corridor, to be held 1 year hence & based on 1918 census. There is some hanky panky about time the terms were presented, & as they were to be answered by night of 30.8.39,[1] H.[2] claims that they are already refused. Daily Telegraph [a]
2. Naval reservists and rest of army and R.A.F. reservists called up. Evacuation of children etc. begins today, involving 3m. people & expected to take 3 days. [Radio; undated]
3. Russo-German pact ratified. Russian armed forces to be further increased. Voroshilov’s speech taken as meaning that Russo-German alliance is not contemplated. Daily Express [b]
4. Berlin report states Russian military mission is expected to arrive there shortly. Daily Telegraph [a]
The site includes PDFs of the newspaper articles he refers to in the diary.

This is a good counter to Pat Buchanan's retrograde America-First anti-semitism, most recently expressed in a column published on his website and others, which contends that "Hitler did not want a war with Poland." The only possible response to this comment, it seems to me, is "why the hell did he invade Poland then?!" Why does MSNBC retain him as a commentator? How much more blatant does his anti-semitism and pro-Nazism have to get before they decide that he's more of a liability than a draw?

Update: see this good TPM article on Buchanan. Commenter jeffgee reminded us of Molly Ivins' stellar line describing Buchanan's speech at the '92 GOP convention: it "sounded better in the original German."

And here's a good takedown of Buchanan by Orac.

This is the stanza of W.H. Auden's poem about the beginning of the war that I find the most moving:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.
And again, today was a beautiful early September day - not a cloud in the sky, warm but not too warm, the sky a beautiful blue as it was on that Tuesday eight years ago in New York City and Washington.

1 comment:

  1. I thank you for sharing this entry. It was nice of you to share the poem too.
    Keep sharing!!

    This is Joshua from Israeli Uncensored News