I fucking hate the radio
To face another way. Our theme
Reversed, we harvest the last row
To store against the cold, undo
The garden that will be undone.
We grieve under the weakened sun
To see all earth’s green fountains dried,
And fallen all the works of light.
You do not speak, and I regret
This downfall of the good we sought
As though the fault were mine. I bring
The plow to turn the shattering
Leaves and bent stems into the dark,
From which they may return. At work,
I see you leaving our bright land,
The last cut flowers in your hand."
— The Summer Ends - Wendell Berry
It was on this day in 1939 that Nazi Germany invaded Poland, and World War II began. The day before, Nazis wearing Polish uniforms staged a fake attack on a German radio station. Hitler used this as a justification for war, announcing: “In order to put an end to this frantic activity no other means is left to me now than to meet force with force.” A week before the invasion, Germany and the Soviet Union had signed a nonaggression pact and agreed to divide Poland between them. Once Germany no longer feared a Soviet retaliation, it was ready to attack Poland.
The Nazis invaded with more than 1.5 million troops, including more than 1,000 planes and 2,000 tanks. They bombed airfields, supply lines, railheads, and cities. Warships attacked the Polish navy. Tanks and motorized infantry broke through lines and isolated troops, then encircled and destroyed them. The attack was sudden and overwhelming, a strategy known as “blitzkrieg” or “lightning war.”
France and England declared war on Germany on September 3rd, but they didn’t launch any major offensives until the following spring, so Poland was more or less on its own. Although Poland had an army of more than 700,000, it was no match for the organization and superior technology of the Nazi invaders, and Poland surrendered after a few weeks.
After that, for months, there were no major military actions. An American senator named William Borah declared, “There is something phony about this war,” and the American media started referring to it as “the phony war.”
W.H. Auden wrote a poem about the outbreak of World War II called “September 1st, 1939,” which contains the line: “We must love one another or die.” It became one of his most famous poems, but he was embarrassed by it and said that he considered it trash."
— The Writer’s Almanac