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BBC News – August 31, 1939 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Despite opinion in some circles that war could be avoided, preparations were put in high gear for what was the inevitable. Here is the 5:30 pm newscast from the BBC World Service on August 31, 1939. The latest assessment of German reaction, preparations for war and the evacuation of children from cities and industrial centers where aerial bombing would be likely.
On August 29, 1939, Germany sent Poland a set of proposals for negotiations, which included two points: that Danzig be returned to Germany and that a plebiscite be held in the Polish Corridor to determine whether the territory should remain with Poland or be returned to Germany. In the latter, Poles who were born or had settled in the Corridor since 1919 could not vote, while Germans born there but not living there could vote. Germany demanded that negotiations were subject to a Polish official with signing powers arriving by the following day, August 30.
Britain deemed that the German proposal was an ultimatum to Poland, and tried but failed to convince the Polish government to negotiate. On August 30, the German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop presented the British ambassador with a 16-point proposal for negotiations, but refused the latter’s request that a copy be sent to the Polish government, as no Polish representative had arrived by the set date. The next day, August 31, the Polish Ambassador Jozef Lipski conferred with Ribbentrop, but as Lipski had no signing powers, the talks did not proceed. Later that day, Hitler announced that the German-Polish talks had ended because of Poland’s refusal to negotiate. He then ordered the German High Command to proceed with the invasion of Poland for the next day, September 1, 1939.
All in all, not an optimistic day in history.
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