August 23, 1939 – BBC World Service News And Commentary – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
August 23, 1939 – A day which brought the world closer to war. It was announced over the BBC that Germany and Soviet Russia had signed a mutual Non-Aggression Pact in the early hours of the morning of the 23rd. On hand for the signing was von Ribbentrop (for the Germans) and Molotov (for the Russians) – the group would be joined by Premier Stalin and photo ops were taken and transmitted all over the world. In essence, the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, in which the two countries agreed to take no military action against each other for the next 10 years. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin (1879-1953) viewed the pact as a way to keep his nation on peaceful terms with Germany, while giving him time to build up the Soviet military. German chancellor Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) used the pact to make sure Germany was able to invade Poland unopposed. The non-aggression pact also contained a secret agreement in which the Soviets and Germans agreed how they would later divide up Eastern Europe.
Although the pact was signed early in the morning, making it impossible to make the morning papers for commentary, headlines loudly proclaimed the event and news via radio spread throughout Europe indicating preparations for war were underway. That Americans visiting Europe were asked to return to the U.S. as soon as possible. France was busy calling up reserves and Germany was dispatching radio cars in many of the cities, informing young men to report for duty. The British Counsel in Berlin issued a statement ordering all British nationals living in Germany to leave immediately. A similar warning had already been given to French citizens living in Germany.
According to a Polish communiqué, Nazi secret police in Danzig arrested a number of Polish railway officials during the previous 24 hours without giving any reason.
And that’s very little of what went on, this very tense August 23rd in 1939 as reported by The BBC World Service.
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