World War II – Week Two
Once a day, I check the news from the @RealTimeWWII Twitter feed.
Okay. Fine. I refresh it multiple times a day. Each tweet fascinates and horrifies me. It’s unnerving to see how quickly hostilities escalated in Poland. During the second week of the war, more cities (like Krakow and Lodz) fell to the advancing German army. Even after so much destruction, I find it amazing that the UK Ministry of Information thought the war wouldn’t more than last three years. Maybe they thought the Germans would run out of cities to bomb? Or maybe they thought the Germans would stop, since the Nazi Party had chosen the theme “Rally of Peace” for their annual rally (before canceling it due to the invasion).
In any case, what are my thoughts on the war this week?
1) A nation’s military may fall quickly, but groups of soldiers can prove far more resilient.
I already “knew” this from reading about guerilla warfare and just being alive during the various conflicts in the Middle East. But to see a tweet that talks about the Polish Air Force “ceasing to exist” to the point where the Germans can just bomb cities at will? Wow. It took two weeks. That’s it. And then they had no planes at all.
Contrast that with how long pockets of Polish fighters held out against the German army. For instance, a Polish garrison of 209 soldiers (in Westerplatte) held out for seven days. In Wizna, 720 soldiers kept 42,000 soldiers and 300 tanks back for three days. Yes, they did fall, but so few held back so many for a relatively long time.
2) Everyone must band together, but do you really know your friends and neighbors?
I saw a tweet about people fleeing Warsaw in droves. However, thousands of people who remained behind dug defensive trenches around city to slow the German Panzers down. Contrast that with one boy’s observations in Lodz. After the Germans took it, ethnic Germans waved the flags of their captors.
It’s a bit naive to think that could never happen again.
3) Shortages. Shortages Everywhere.
The UK government might have thought the war wouldn’t last more than three years, but they certainly prepared for the worst. They actually persuaded their citizens to kill their pets. 750,000 cats & dogs died in the slaughter. The government stressed it would be more humane to kill them, rather than let them die in air raids or starve during rationing.
I’m not going to judge. It was a different time and a lot of people sent their own children away to avoid the air raids. However, a lot of pets died. I had never before thought about what happened to pets in a war zone.
Also, food shortages didn’t just affect pets. They impacted Polish troops as well, forcing them to surrender in some locations when food and medical supplies ran out. Even Germany began to ration its citizens.
4) Friendly Fire
Last week, a German sub shot down a passenger liner on accident (though they sank three armed merchant ships this week on purpose). The Brits had similar cases of mistaken identity, as one of their fighter planes shot down their own aircraft and one of their subs torpedoed another British sub, mistaking it for a German U-boat.
5) More Propaganda
As mentioned before, a German sub sank a passenger liner last week. How did Germany answer? They alleged that the British sank the boat (filled with over a hundred of their own citizens). They also broadcast a radio program, claiming that Warsaw had fallen to Germany. Panic ensued in Poland until the citizenry realized it came from a portable German transmitter.
Noted Propagandist Goebbels also began releasing his first “newsreels.”
6) Politicians Gonna Politick
I sometimes forget how politicians can inject unnecessary drama and politics into any situation. Apparently, when Canada declared war on Germany, their parliament waited a week after Britain’s announcement to prove they were independent from the Crown.
It’s amazing the stuff you learn by following (and commenting on) projects like this. People are people. They bring their crap with them, and they do not always behave in a rational manner.
Just more stuff to keep in mind while I’m writing.