Thursday, April 7, 2016

August 16, 1939: Incident at Danzig

Wednesday 16 August 1939

"Stop! Danger! Or you will be shot." The German military was in Danzig well before the war incognito and was quick to seize control of Danzig upon the outbreak of war. They then waited for German troops to arrive, which happened a day after this picture was taken on 1 September 1939.
Danzig: At the Free City of Danzig (now Gdansk), which is under the auspices of the League of Nations but for all practical purposes under Polish control, a Polish sentry on the Polish side unwisely crosses the border into "neutral" Danzig. When about 20 yards on the other side, he is shot dead without warning. Danzig, a majority-German city, is crawling with Germans anxiously awaiting a reunion with Germany à la Austria or Czechoslovakia. "Incidents" of this sort only aid their cause. Polish military guards are henceforth under orders to shoot any uniformed German or Danzinger in Polish territory on sight, which further heightens the border tensions.

German/Soviet Diplomacy: German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, at his Berchtesgaden-area castle located in Fuschl, receives a report from his ambassador to Moscow, Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg, about the meeting held the previous day with Molotov in Moscow. The ambassador's report states that Molotov received Ribbentrop's statement of a desire for a rapprochement with the USSR "with the greatest interest" and that he would be in touch with the Germans after discussing it with Stalin.

Hitler is excited when he sees the report and tells Ribbentrop to respond affirmatively to several specific questions posed by Molotov, specifically:
  1. Did German wish to conclude a non-aggression pact with the USSR;
  2. Would the Germans pressure the Japanese to stop attacking the Soviets in the Far East;
  3. Would the Germans consider a "joint guarantee" of the Baltic states?
The question of the Baltic states, of course, would be a critical part of the later treaty. Ribbentrop also puts in his reply that he would be willing to visit Moscow to finalize a deal any time after 18 August 1939.

Hitler Berchtesgaden
Hitler and cronies at the Obersalzberg Tea House, 16 August 1939. While I have not seen the SS officer in the rear identified, it may be Ribbentrop. Hitler is studiously wearing civilian clothes as he ramps up for war to give the illusion for prying eyes that nothing is going on.


8-9 November 1923: Beer Hall Putsch

December 20, 1924: Hitler Leaves Prison

September 18, 1931: Geli Raubal Commits Suicide

November 8, 1932: Roosevelt is Elected

30 January 1933: Hitler Takes Office
February 27, 1933: Reichstag Fire
March 23, 1933: The Enabling Act

June 20, 1934: Hitler Plans the Night of the Long Knives
June 30, 1934: Night of the Long Knives

August 1, 1936: Opening of the Berlin Olympics

September 30, 1938: The Munich Agreement
November 9, 1938: Kristallnacht

August 1, 1939: Flight Tests of B-17 Flying Fortress
August 2, 1939: Einstein and the Atom Bomb
August 7, 1939: Goering Tries to Broker Peace
August 14, 1939: Hitler Decides To Attack Poland
August 15, 1939: U-Boats Put To Sea
August 16, 1939: Incident at Danzig
August 20, 1939: Battle of Khalkhin Gol
August 22, 1939: Hitler Tips His Hand
August 23, 1939: Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact
August 25, 1939: Hitler Postpones Invasion of Poland
August 27, 1939: First Jet Flight
August 31, 1939: The Gleiwitz Operation


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