Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski (dob) was a Polish-born polymath writer and inventor with 50 patents to his credit. He was a civil and industrial engineer by profession, educated in Poland, Belgium, and the United States. He was also a writer on Polish and European history, author of historical atlases, and lexicographer Pogonowski was born in Lwow, Poland. After the invasion of Poland in WW2, he was sent to Auschwitz with 500 other prisoners, and transferred to Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen. He survived the camps and was liberated on May 2, 1945. Pogonowski summarized his horrific experiences at the German concentration camps in a three-page article popularized in Richard C. Lukas' Out of the Inferno.
British Prime Minister Radio Broadcast: I am speaking to you from the Cabinet Room at 10, Downing Street. This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final Note stating that unless we heard from them by 11 0'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany. You can imagine what a bitter blow it is to me that all my long struggle to win peace has failed. Yet I cannot believe that there is anything more or anything different that I could have done and that would have been more successful. Up to the very last it would have been quite possible to have arranged a peaceful and honourable settlement between Germany and Poland. But Hitler would not have it. He had evidently made up his mind to attack Poland whatever happened, and although he now says he put forward reasonable proposals which were rejected by the Poles, that is not a true statement. The proposals were never shown to the Poles, nor to us, and, though they were announced in a German broadcast on Thursday night, Hitler did not wait to hear comments on them, but ordered his troops to cross the Polish frontier. His action shows convincingly that there is no chance of expecting that this man will ever give up his practice of using force to gain his will. He can only be stopped by force. We and France are to-day, in fulfillment of our obligations, going to the aid of Poland, who is so bravely resisting this wicked and unprovoked attack upon her people. We have a clear conscience. We have done all that any country could do to establish peace, but a situation in which no word given by Germany's ruler could be trusted and no people or country could feel themselves safe had become intolerable. And now that we have resolved to finish it, I know that you will all play your part with calmness and courage. As such a moment as this the assurances of support that we have received from the Empire are a source of profound encouragement to us. ...Now may God bless you all and may He defend the right. For it is evil things that we shall be fighting against, brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution. And against them I am certain that the right will prevail." The deadline passed with no response. (Editors note: After Britain declared war on Germany, it was followed by declarations of war from France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada. Despite these declarations, no military action was taken to assist Poland. The following eight months was relatively quiet and uneventful. This period of time was called the Phoney War. )
President Franklin Roosevelt gave a fireside chat on outbreak of war: " My fellow Americans and my friends: Tonight my single duty is to speak to the whole of America. Until four-thirty this morning I had hoped against hope that some miracle would prevent a devastating war in Europe and bring to an end the invasion of Poland by Germany........ You must master at the outset a simple but unalterable fact in modern foreign relations between nations. When peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries everywhere is in danger. It is easy for you and for me to shrug our shoulders and to say that conflicts taking place thousands of miles from the continental United States, and, indeed, thousands of miles from the whole American Hemisphere, do not seriously affect the Americas-and that all the United States has to do is to ignore them' and go about its own business. Passionately though we may desire detachment, we are forced to realize that every word that comes through the air, every ship that sails the sea, every battle that is fought, does affect the Americana future. Let no man or woman thoughtlessly or falsely talk of America sending its armies to European fields. At this moment there is being prepared a proclamation of American neutrality. This would have been done even if there had been no neutrality statute on the books, for this proclamation is in accordance with international law and in accordance with American policy......The most dangerous enemies of American peace are those who, without well-rounded information on the whole broad subject of the past, the present and the future, undertake to speak with assumed authority, to talk in terms of glittering generalities, to give to the nation assurances or prophesies which are of little present or future value.......We seek to keep war from our own firesides by keeping war from coming to the Americas........ It is serious enough and tragic enough to every American family in every State in the Union to live in a world that is torn by wars on other continents. Those wars today affect every American home. It is our national duty to use every effort to keep them out of the Americas......I hope the United States will keep out of this war. I believe that it will. And I give you assurance and reassurance that every effort of your Government will be directed toward that end. As long as it remains within my power to prevent, there will be no black-out of peace in the United States. "
At 6:00 p.m. King George VI addressed the British Empire by radio. " In this grave hour, perhaps the most fateful in our history, I send to every household of my peoples, both at home and overseas, this message, spoken with the same depths of feeling for each one of you as if I were able to cross your threshold and speak to you myself. For the second time in the lives of most of us, we are at war. Over and over again, we have tried to find a peaceful way out of the differences between ourselves and those who are now our enemies; but it has been in vain. We have been forced into a conflict, for we are called, with our allies, to meet the challenge of a principle which, if it were to prevail, would be fatal to any civilized order in the world. It is a principle which permits a State, in the selfish pursuit of power, to disregard its treaties and its solemn pledges, which sanctions the use of force, or threat of force, against the sovereignty and independence of other States. Such a principle, stripped of all disguise, is surely the mere primitive doctrine that might is right. And if this principle were established throughout the world, the freedom of our own country and of the whole British Commonwealth of Nations would be in danger. But far more than this, the peoples of the world would be kept in the bondage of fear, and all hopes of settled peace and of security, of justice and liberty, among nations, would be ended. This is the ultimate issue which confronts us. For the sake of all that we ourselves hold dear, and of the world order and peace, it is unthinkable that we should refuse to meet the challenge. It is to this high purpose that I now call my people at home and my peoples across the seas who will make our cause their own. I ask them to stand calm and firm and united in this time of trial. The task will be hard. There may be dark days ahead and war can no longer be confined to the battlefield, but we can only do the right as we see the right, and reverently commit our cause to God. If one and all we keep resolutely faithful to it, ready for whatever service or sacrifice it may demand, then with God's help, we shall prevail. May He bless and keep us all."
The three-day Battle of Grudziądz ended with Polish withdrawal from the city. When the Polish defenders retreated they destroyed the bridges over the Vistula and retreated to the south-east, towards the Drwęca river, where they took new defensive positions. The Germans captured the city the next day. Grudziądz was the location of the headquarters of the Polish 16th Infantry Division, as well as the military Center of Cavalry Training. Grudziadz played a crucial role as strong point in the defence of the Vistula River Line and in securing the route of retreat of Polish divisions of the Pomorze Army, engaged on the western bank of the river. Several infantry divisions were stationed in the Polish Corridor (the 9th, the 15th, and the 27th) together with the Pomeranian Cavalry Brigade from Bydgoszcz. Both units were positioned in the Corridor on September 1, 1939 at the moment of the invasion and were vulnerable to a German attack. The German 4th Army stood on the east side of the Vistula, along the line stretching from Grudziądz to Lidzbark. Grudziądz was defended by the Operational Group East, consisting of the 4th from Toruń and the local 16th Infantry Division, both part of the Pomorze Army.
Bloody Sunday: Just days after Germany invaded Poland, German soldiers staged an insurrection in Bydgoszcz, in what was called, Bloody Sunday. It started with an attack by German Selbstschutz snipers firing on Polish troops which were in retreat. When the Poles reacted, the Germans launched the final retaliatory strike - the mass execution of Polish hostages. The Nazis instructed the press to publish a photo of a few dead bodies of German victims, staged in a way to provide "evidence of the so-called "barbarism" of the Polish people. (These staged events were typical strategies of the Nazi German propaganda campaigns.)
SS Athenia was torpedoed by German submarine: The SS Athenia, a British passenger ship was the first vessel attacked and sunk by the German Kriegsmarine. Casualties were 117 civilian passengers and crew, including 28 U.S. citizens. Under the command of Captain James Cook, the vessel had left port at Glasgow on September 1, on the way to Montreal via Liverpool and Belfast. On the third day the German U-30 spotted her and after tracking the vessel for three hours launched two torpedoes. One exploded on her port side, in the engine room, and she began to settle by the stern. The SS Athenia sent out a distress signal and several vessels responded immediately rescuing over 980 passengers and crew. The German liner SS Bremen, which was en route from New York to Murmansk, also received Athenia's distress signal, but ignored it. Athenia remained afloat for more than 14 hours, until she finally sank stern first at 10:40 the next morning.
The first experimental gassing took place at Block 11, in the basement of Auschwitz I. The Nazi SS gathered 600 Russian POWs and 250 Polish people and subjected them with lethal gassing of Zyklon B, a deadly cyanide-based pesticide. It was Karl Fritsch, an SS functionary, who first proposed the idea of using the gas for the purposes of mass exterminations. Initially, Fritsch ensured that the cells were not air-tight, so as to subject the victims to a long, excruciating suffocation.