August 24, 1939 – Reports from Berlin over the dangerous closeness of war, this day. As reported by Berlin Correspondent Sigrid Schultz for the Chicago Tribune.
And even while talks were breaking down and preparations were being made for an armed confrontation, the average Berliner was more concerned with the final days of Summer than anything. But as Schultz reports, cab drivers and people on the street were convinced Germany would retain Danzig within a matter of hours. The assumption was, among the locals, that it was all very much like the Munich crisis from a year earlier – and that the confrontation between Germany and Czechoslovakia would end in appeasement and that Germany would change the borders one more time. The topic of Danzig, aside from Summer, was on everyone’s minds – many saying they would like to have a Mark (25 cents) every time someone mentioned it, they would be rich for the rest of their lives.
But there was an air of anticipation that things may not work out that way. Anti-aircraft guns were being hoisted on to the roof of a building across the street from the Adlon, Berlin’s most swank Hotel, drawing looks of concern as the process was being repeated throughout the city at strategic spots believed to be vulnerable to possible air attack. American tourists were calling the Embassy asking if it was advisable to leave, and the trains leaving Berlin were more crowded than usual.
The other subject of conversation among Berliners was the recent alliance with Russia, who seemed delighted at the prospects. In stores, you could overhear conversations where shoppers would tell each other that some distant relative of theirs had actually seen Russians officers in uniform walking around Berlin a week earlier.
And that’s a sample of what was observed in Berlin, for this August 24, 1939 as reported by Sigrid Schultz for the Mutual Broadcasting company direct from Germany.