It began with a lie: Remembering September 1, 1939


THEY ATTACKED THE RADIO station at eight p.m. sharp. A half dozen German SS men dressed as Polish partisans burst into the broadcasting house beside the wooden radio tower near the Silesian town of Gleiwitz and trussed up its German staff. Then one of the men barked a brief speech into the microphone: Achtung! Achtung! This is Gleiwitz. The station is in Polish hands. … The moment of freedom has arrived! … Long live Poland!” To give the stunt an authentic feel, the agents had brought with them a local German dissident who had been arrested by the Gestapo a day earlier. They  dressed him in the same kind of clothes they were wearing, shoved a set of forged Polish identity papers into his pocket, pumped him full of narcotics, and shot him dead, leaving his corpse behind as “evidence” of this “cowardly Polish attack” on German soil. Their work done, the gang then beat a hasty retreat.

The Gleiwitz attack was just one out of some twenty-one false flag operations dubbed “Operation Himmler” that the SS launched on the eve of Germany’s invasion of Poland. After six years in power, Adolf Hitler was still uncertain of his people’s loyalty, let alone that of his General Staff. “The war will be unleashed through appropriate propaganda,” he had told his commanders a week earlier. “Credibility is of no concern, because victory will make it right.” The next morning, in the early hours of September 1, 1939, he hurled 1.5 million soldiers at Poland’s porous borders. (They would be joined by Red Army forces attacking from the east on September 17). Then at a few minutes past ten, a seemingly outraged Hitler proclaimed to the Reichstag and a nationwide radio audience that “Last night Poland fired on our territory for the first time using regular soldiers. Since 5:45, we have been shooting back. From now on, we will pay them back, bomb by bomb!”

The war began with a lie. Almost six years and sixty million deaths later, it ended with one, too, when the Greater German Radio announced that “our Führer, Adolf Hitler, has fallen this afternoon in his command post in the Reich Chancellery fighting to his last breath against Bolshevism.” In reality, he and Eva Braun had committed suicide to avoid facing the consequences of his actions…



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