Thursday, April 28, 2016

November 9, 1939: The Venlo Incident

Sunday 9 November 1939

Heinrich Himmler and fellow officers (including Reinhard Heydrich and Gestapo Müller (the two on the right))  during the investigation of the Bürgerbräukeller in November 1939 (Federal Archive).
German Opposition: On 9 November 1939, Johann Georg Elser is being held at Munich Gestapo Headquarters, one of many suspects of the 8 November 1939 bombing of the Bürgerbräukeller. At some point, he is identified by a waitress, Maria Strobl, as an odd patron who only drank one beer during his visits. Another witness, a storekeeper, identifies Elser as the man to whom he sold a a 'soundproofing insulation plate' to deaden the sound of ticking clocks. The head of the Vienna Gestapo, Franz Josef Huber, comes in and asks to see Elser's knees: they are bruised from his work in tight spaces planting the bomb. During the interrogation, Elser is savagely and repeatedly beaten. Heinrich Himmler himself, who could have been killed by the bomb, participates.

There is a sense of outrage throughout the German apparatus that is genuine and destructive. For instance, on this day, SS guards at Buchenwald Concentration Camp march 21 Jewish inmates out to a wall and shoot them in retaliation. Food rations for the entire camp are suspended for three days.

German Propaganda: Joseph Goebbels has the propaganda apparatus blame Great Britain for the Bürgerbräukeller explosion.

Battle of the Atlantic: The 961-ton British freighter Carmarthen Coast strikes a mine and sinks near Seaham Harbour. Two perish.

U-34 (Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Rollmann) stops Norwegian freighter Snar off southern Norway, then seizes it due to "contraband" (pulpwood). U-34 also searches Danish ship N.J. Ohsen and Norwegian ship Gimle, but allows them to proceed.

The Royal Navy destroyer Isis captures German vessel Leander off Cape Finisterre and starts bringing it to Scotland.

U-26, one of three U-boats previously ordered to enter the Mediterranean passes through the heavily guarded Straits of Gibraltar.

Spies: The Gestapo arrests/kidnaps two British spies (MI6), Major Richard Stevens and Captain S. Payne Best. The MI6 agents are attempting to contact the German opposition at the Dutch border town of Venlo. They have been meeting with a "Major Schaemmle," who in reality is loyal Gestapo officer Walther Schellenberg. Schellenberg has been "playing" them. Himmler ordered them to be abducted from just across the border as part of his investigation of the Bürgerbräukeller plot, as their information may help identify the culprits. A neutral observer at the meetings, Lieutenant Dirk Klop, is killed during the abduction.

The Venlo Incident undermines MI6 operations throughout Greater Germany. The captured officers have lists of British agents and provide other useful information. While they could be shot on sight under the rules of war, the two British secret agents are imprisoned instead.

Finland: The Finnish emissaries, Paasikivi and Tanner, rescind their government's offer to yield the Gulf of Finland islands in a meeting with Stalin and Molotov. Stalin is incredulous and asks, "Nothing doing?" Molotov tries to buy the Hanko Peninsula, and the Finns refuse. The Finns pack their bags and leave. Negotiations are over.

South Africa: A German plot to march on Johannesburg and Pretoria and sabotage vital industries is alleged.

Poland: Odilo Globocnik appointed SS and police leader in the Lublin district, the intended capital of the Jewish state.

Łódź is officially annexed to the Reich, becoming its tenth largest city. It is renamed to Litzmannstadt in honor of a German General of World War I.

Walter Schellenberg, the architect of the Venlo Incident.

November 1939

November 1, 1939: The Jet Flies Again
November 2, 1939: The Soviets Devour Poland
November 3, 1939: Amending the Neutrality Act
November 4, 1939: Roosevelt Signs Neutrality Laws
November 5, 1939: The Spirit of Zossen
November 6, 1939: First Dogfight
November 7, 1939: More Lies About SS Athenia
November 8, 1939: Hitler Almost Killed
November 9, 1939: The Venlo Incident
November 10, 1939: Dutch Panic
November 11, 1939: Poignant Armistice Day
November 12, 1939: Peace Efforts Made and Rejected
November 13, 1939: First Bombing of Great Britain
November 14, 1939: The Dyle Plan
November 15, 1939: Elser Confesses to the Bürgerbräukeller Bombing
November 16, 1939: Martial Law in Prague
November 17, 1939: International Students Day
November 18, 1939: Magnetic Mines
November 19, 1939: Walls Around the Warsaw Ghetto
November 20, 1939: First RN Submarine Victory
November 21, 1939: Salmon & Gluckstein on the Prowl
November 22, 1939: British Recover A Magnetic Mine
November 23, 1939: HMS Rawalpindi Sunk
November 24, 1939: Japanese Enter Nanning
November 25, 1939: The Olympics are a War Casualty
November 26, 1939: Soviets Stage an "Incident" at Mainila
November 27, 1939: German Marriage Becomes Perilous
November 28, 1939: Judenrats in Poland
November 29, 1939: The Soviets Prepare to Invade Finland
November 30, 1939: Winter War Begins


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