August 26, 1939 – Europe On The Edge: Expecting Nerves, Settling For Headaches –
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A war of nerves as the hours ticked by and as charges and counter-charges filled the air and the conference rooms, War in Europe seemed inevitable on this August 26th, 75 years ago.
With Germany‘s claims of Polish aggression and Poland’s claims of German troops massed on her borders, last minute attempts at a diplomatic solution seemed almost pointless – that it would be only a matter of hours, days at the most, when a shooting war would begin. The war of nerves continued.
Preparations were being made throughout Europe. Poland was drafting into service all men under the age of 50. Horses and any motorized vehicle was being requisitioned for military service. Sales of Vodka were banned in favor of stockpiling alcohol for use in field hospitals. In Britain, sand bags were being filled, Children were being prepared for evacuation to the country. France was busy calling up reserves.
On this broadcast, via EIAR, the Fascist Radio and propaganda network in Rome reported the Mussolini Government was in complete accord with the German position on Poland. Italy was ready to join in at a moment’s notice.
The stage was set. All that was needed was an incident. All that was needed was the go-ahead.
And on this day in August in 1939, everyone waited.
Here are news reports via EIAR in Rome for August 26, 1939. The world situation as it was viewed via Rome – and a painful reminder that the “war to end all wars”, ending only 21 years earlier was a hollow platitude, and that history was in fact littered with blind optimism in the face of deadly self-will – and that words and intentions were only as good as those who suffered from them the first time. Clearly, the world forgot – and it was staring at the abyss, one more time.