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The Man Behind Hitler
Joseph Goebbels' Diary return to index

Waging War, 1939-1941

Quotes The Nazis used blitzkreig ("lightning war") tactics to overpower much of continental Europe in a very short amount of time. In August 1939 Germany attacked Poland; Britain and France declared war on Germany in response, and World War II was underway. By mid-June 1940, Germany had occupied Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and France. Then, on July 10, the Nazis began bombing Britain. London and other cities suffered terrible losses, but Great Britain fought back, rallied by British prime minister Winston Churchill's "finest hour" speech. "If we fail," he warned, "then the whole world... will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age."

In late June 1941, the Nazis launched an invasion of the Soviet Union. The United States remained on the sidelines militarily until December 1941, when the Japanese attacked the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. After the U.S. declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy quickly declared war on the U.S., and by January 1942, the first American troops had arrived in Europe.

August 23, 1939
Soviet Premier Josef Stalin Yesterday: the announcement of the non-aggression pact with Moscow proved to be a global sensation. The balance of power in Europe has been shifted. London and Paris are stunned. The Poles are full of bravado, but that makes them look ridiculous. It was a brilliant move by the Führer. Let's see how the world reacts.

September 1, 1939
Yesterday: At noon the Führer issues the order to attack [Poland] at about 5 a.m. It seems the die is cast now. [Hermann] Göring remains sceptical. The Führer doesn't believe the English will intervene. Excitement has reached a maximum level. At home, work. I put finishing touches to the proclamation to the people and the Party. I work on propaganda posters for Poland. We are prepared.

June 16, 1940
Military situation: Heavy fighting on the Maginot Line. The French are resisting very stubbornly. But a large number of fortified positions have fallen to us. Pursuit of the enemy beyond the Seine. Over 200,000 prisoners so far since 5 June. The German flag flies over Versailles. Triumph! One's heart beats faster when one hears of such an event. We spent twenty-one years fighting for this. Gloria, victoria!

June 25, 1940
I am preparing a big programme of celebrations for the radio. The entire German people is to be involved. Call from the Führer: he is quite boisterously happy. Praises my propaganda work, which contributed so much to the victory.

July 5, 1940
How much longer until it really gets going? I can hardly restrain our press. And the people, too. They are thirsting for war against England.

October 23, 1940
Churchill has issued an appeal to the people of France: impudent, offensive and bristling with hypocrisy. A revolting, fat beast. I drafted a speech with a sharp, withering response. If we don't answer them, the English will continue to draw strength from their illusions.

December 10, 1940
Yesterday: A glorious day in Berlin. We are two hours late. Very heavy air raid on London. Some 600,000 kilograms. Entire districts of the city engulfed in flames. Only one aircraft lost. A really fine show. London is playing things down, but the American reports are strong and vivid. Nice to hear. The previous day they were talking about a decline in our offensive capability.

June 24, 1941
Sixteen hundred feet of newsreel from the start of our Russian campaign. Some of our new weapons are shown -- huge monstrosities that smash to pieces everything in their way. The divine judgement of history is being passed on the Soviet Union.

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