|Transmitter mast at Gleiwitz. |
This wooden structure is now a national shrine in Poland (©Wikipedia)
On September 1, 1939, Hitler lied to the German people, "Last night Poland fired for the first time on our own territory with regular troops. Since 5:45 a.m., we fire back." He lied double, for the German raid had already started one hour earlier.
|Cadet Hans Buch calls his private diary Logbook.|
|The Schleswig-Holstein. Note Hans' perfect Sütterlin handwriting|
"Well, two hours later, we were going to the beach in gym pants with cheerful songs - it's time for a swim. Wow, we were feeling like Indians. (...) "
"And then we are in the dunes, shoes off - in line, we storm into the salty water of the Baltic Sea until we have no more ground under our feet, swim far out, and return to the beach slightly tired (...) A few 'soldiers' are building sandcastles like little boys. It is a morning of most cheerful exuberance and lightheartedness, without thoughts about the coming hours and of which we have no idea."
The following morning the situation changed dramatically. The crew is informed: "Now we know - 4.45 a.m., we change uniforms, and the raiding patrol leaves the ship. We shake hands with the boys for the last time; we all love them. It's dark and quiet, and the Schleswig-Holstein is dimmed. While waiting for dawn, the ship slowly moves towards the Westerplatte."
At 4.47 a.m., the "Schleswig-Holstein" opened fire at the Polish ammunition depot on Westerplatte.
Suddenly Hans is very busy: "While deep down in the ammunition chamber, I am pulling pods out of the bodies of projectiles. It is starting upstairs: Wumm. That was the Anton gun tower. A slight trembling goes through the ship and then shot after shot for ten minutes on the fort and the plate. We stop, and everybody knows: 'The raiding patrol is going ahead.'"
|The raiding patrol in lethal action|
"Late in the evening, a Pinasse (a sloop) full of clothes arrives - a sad confirmation of the terrible news. We have to unload: shot bottles, gas masks, bloody pants, cut boots, bloody spongy socks, a steel helmet shot through from above, a jacket, half a rag, completely bloody (a shot in the hand grenade bag, the boy was torn to shreds). I don't need to keep it in the logbook. I'll remember it anyway."
|Visiting Danzig. Note the Danzig flag.|
|An embedded German film crew in Danzig's harbor. |
In the background, the Schleswig-Holstein (©bkp)