August 2-6, 1939 – days when tensions between Germany and Poland were heating up over the city of Danzig (now Gdasnk). The issue was one where Germany claimed Danzig was theirs and Poland was adamant about claiming it was theirs. This would wind up being the catalyst for the start of World War 2 and as the rhetoric was escalating, the diplomatic efforts were coming to very little. And so a war of words was raging – and a sample of that comes from these newscast/commentaries from the English Service of Radio Berlin, the BBC Home Service and, the English Service of Radio Warsaw. Berlin goes to great lengths to portray the citizens of Danzig as the oppressed ones who merely wanted to become part of Germany again, much the same argument which triggered the Munich Crisis a year earlier – the oppressed Germans living on land that was perceived as rightfully theirs. But whereas Britain and the allies gave in to Hitler’s demands in 1938, and the word appeasement became the most popular in the lexicon at the time, it also set a precedent where Hitler could make demands of other territories – and the Axis was busy extending influence in many places. Most notably in the Eastern Europe, where Italy was exerting influence in that region and Germany was happily willing to oblige. So along with news reports of Danzig Gaulieter Forester participating in pro-Berlin demonstrations and addressing crowds calling for Poland to give up the city, you also had reports of Italian Count Ciano gathering with German officials and Mussolini over the situation in Albania. It was clear war was becoming inevitable – it was obvious no turn of diplomatic magic would prevent a confrontation from occurring sooner rather than later. But just what kind of war was the big question – was this going to be a repeat of The Great War of 1914, or were we on the verge of something new, something more devastating? Over this period of days the war of words was alive and well. And the clock was ticking.
Here are those three news reports as they were broadcast via shortwave.