Today in History, November 9: 1938 – Kristallnacht. In order to direct Germany in the direction they wanted, the Nazis believed that they had to give the people someone to blame, someone to hate, for their misfortunes. The Jewish people of Germany and Austria were the perfect targets.
The Nazis used the murder of a low level diplomat in Paris as an excuse. Hitler ordered storm troopers to act as if they were citizens angered by the murder and to vandalize and destroy Jewish businesses, thus “The Night of Broken Glass” from the broken windows. Many Jews were killed and 30,000 men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. They were released if they promised to leave Germany….100,000+ did so. Kristallnacht would eventually lead to the Holocaust, during which 6,000,000+ Jews were killed in the Nazis attempt at genocide.
Today in History, March 7: 1936:
“If you French had intervened in the Rhineland in 1936 we should have been sunk and Hitler would have fallen” – German General Heinz Guderian, interviewed after WWII.
On this date, Germany “remilitarized” the Rhineland with a token force. It had been de-militarized after WWI to protect Germany’s neighbors.
In some skullduggery, Hitler claimed the people of the Rhineland were German peoples, and wanted the military presence. Now it was just a matter of seeing if anyone would call his hand.
In his memoirs, Hitler agreed with Guderian, saying that he had been very nervous in the 48 hours after the move.
Except for a few unheeded voices (Churchill), the governments of Europe refused to act, mostly for financial reasons. Bet they wished they could have had a “do over” on that decision.
Today in History, February 28, 1933:
The Reichstag Fire Decree. On the night of February 27, 1933, the German Parliament, or Reichstag, was burned by arsonists.
The very next day (strike while the iron is hot) German President Paul Von Hindenburg, on the “advice” of Chancellor Adolph Hitler, issues the Reichstag Fire Decree “for the protection of the people and the state.”
The order suspended basic civil liberties guaranteed by the German Constitution.
The fire was blamed on the Nazi’s enemies, Communists. However it is likely the fire was contrived to justify the order, which began Hitler’s dictatorship.
The same type of maneuver would be used by the Nazis in September, 1939, to justify the invasion of Poland.
“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin
Today in History, August 31: 1939 – “I will provide a propagandistic casus belli. Its credibility doesn’t matter. The victor will not be asked whether he told the truth.” –Adolph Hitler.
The Gleiwitz incident, an assault on a German radio station, as part of Operation Himmler, takes place. The assault was conducted by GERMAN SS troops, posing as Polish troops, upon a German radio station. The ruse went so far as to leave Polish prisoners, captured previously, dead at the station as “proof” of the assault.
The next day, already prepared, German troops invaded Poland in “response” to the atrocity.
1941 – Operation Barbarossa. The largest invasion in history, ordered by Adolph Hitler, kicks off as 3 million German soldiers, supported by 19 Panzer (tank) divisions, 2,500 aircraft and 7,000 artillery pieces use their now standard Blitzkrieg tactics against Russia. Initially the offensive was incredibly successful, pushing 300 miles into enormous Russia within weeks. Hitler’s fellow meglomaniac Stalin had signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler, and had recently asked to join Hitler in his designs on world domination, so he thought his country was safe; and Russia’s air forces were obsolete. However, Hitler was ignoring history (never, ever, EVER, do that!!). Napoleon (almost 129 years to the day) had invaded Russia and been turned back by the Russian winter, in WWI Hitler’s predecessors had been ruined by opening a second front against Russia. Hitler’s fate would be the same. Russia benefited from an almost limitless source of manpower, and the industrial might of America, which sent arms and modern aircraft. Added to the Russian winter which Hitler did not prepare for, and defeat was unavoidable for Germany.
Being sent to the “Eastern Front” was the kiss of death for German troops who had gained disfavor with their superiors.