terça-feira, 1 de setembro de 2009

September 1, 1939

By George J. Marlin

Seventy years ago today, Adolf Hitler started the most horrendous war in the history of mankind by ordering the German Wehrmacht to invade and conquer Poland. The Polish army fought valiantly but they were no match for Germany’s sixty-five highly mechanized divisions and 1.8-million troops. By the time Polish resistance ended on October 5, 200,000 Poles were dead or wounded and 400,000 were taken prisoner. But the invasion also set in motion a moral battle that led to the global moral leadership of John Paul II and the Catholic Church’s rise as an institution opposed to all forms of political religion.

Hitler, who despised Poland and held that all Poles were subhuman, ordered his invading army to kill “without pity or mercy, all men, women and children of Polish descent or language.” In the first thirty days of occupation, the Wehrmacht destroyed 531 towns and villages and murdered over 16,000 civilians. Hitler’s aim was more than expanding Germany’s borders; he wanted the “annihilation of living forces” by means of extermination and enslavement. “All Poles,” Heinrich Himmler declared, “will disappear from the world.” The Nazi Governor General of Poland, Hans Frank, told his henchmen: “The Pole has no rights whatsoever. . . . A major goal of our plan is to finish off as speedily as possible all troublemaking politicians, priests, and leaders who fall into our hands. I openly admit that some thousands of so-called important Poles will have to pay with their lives. . . .Every vestige of Polish culture is to be eliminated. Those Poles who seem to have Nordic appearances will be taken to Germany to work in our factories. . . .The rest? They will work. They will eat little. And in the end they will die out. There will never again be a Poland.”

It was illegal for Poles to have sexual relations. And abortion was compulsory for pregnant Poles. U.S. Ambassador Anthony Drexel Biddle informed Washington that the German intention was “to terrorize the civilian population and to reduce the number of children bearing Poles irrespective of category.” Read More