August 29,1939 – News From Berlin Radio, Polish Radio, Italian Radio, Radio Moscow – Elliot Roosevelt Commentary – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
August 29, 1939 – Watching the skies over Europe and with last minute and last ditch efforts to avoid war, tensions between the Axis powers and the Allies grew more strained by the hour. British Envoy Sir Neville Henderson, stretching shuttle diplomacy to new vistas, was arriving in Berlin to receive a final answer from Adolf Hitler over insistence on turning over disputed German territories in Poland or risk invasion. While diplomacy was hanging on by threads, the war of words in the form of propaganda was flooding the airwaves, as was broadcast precautions over what may eventually transpire. In this one-hour snapshot of August 29, 1939 there are two English language broadcasts from Berlin Radio. Both answer Polish charges with charges of their own; citing atrocities and border skirmishes. While Polish radio broadcasts disclaimers and counters with claims of atrocities of their own, inflicted by the Germans. Italian Radio offers preparations for what will surely be a coming war as well as Radio Moscow who, it should be added, were now allied with Germany as the result of a non-aggression pact between Berlin and Moscow. Ending out the hour is a nightly commentary by Elliot Roosevelt, son of the President, who spoke adamantly about America maintaining its neutrality and citing the horrors of the “Great War” as an example and a reminder of a promise made that the 1914-1918 War was going to be the “War to end all wars”.
Although it may have been too late for Europe, save for what many had hoped would be an 11th hour miracle (much like that of 1938 where war was averted at the last minute by caving into Hitler’s demands over Czech territory claiming to be part of Germany. It wasn’t too late for America, and there were voices adamant and pledged not to go to war again under any circumstances – although Roosevelt did add a “however . . .” to the end of his broadcast, indicating the future, like everything else, wasn’t certain. With the world watching and waiting.
With varying degrees of quality, here is an hour’s worth of Shortwave broadcasts all made on August 29, 1939 – as it was happening, and most have never been heard since the day they were broadcast.
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