XI: Observing the War Machine in Action

I BELIEVE I can justly claim to have been on more fronts of the German army and its allies than any other American correspondent. I followed the German forces consecutively into Poland, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, France, Yugoslavia, Greece, and (via Finland) into Russia. I missed only Norway, where my A.P. colleague, Alvin P. Steinkopf, flew for us.

At the time of my various visits I cabled thousands of words from each front. Now I shall only attempt to register in concentrated form the outstanding emotional and dramatic episodes of my various trips, and in a later chapter to drive home the military lessons which were indelibly impressed upon me -- a layman unencumbered by knowledge of strategy or other military lore -- lessons which we as a nation must learn and profit by if Hitler is to be beaten.

Of course, no foreign correspondent was at any front permanently. From time to time a group of newsmen was taken to a specific sector for a specific purpose, but nobody was ever permitted to attach himself to any particular sector of the front or to roam about or remain at will. Obviously the High Command would authorise trips only if they were likely to result in reports of victories or in findings favourable to Germany. When, for instance, I was flown early in September, 1939, to Gleiwitz, in Silesia, and thence motored to Czestochava, Poland, the first foreign correspondent to be taken to any front,* I knew before starting that I would find the famous Black Madonna intact, or the High Command would not have authorised this trip.

My first contact with the Nazi theory of reprisals came almost immediately after I crossed the Polish border. We motored into a little town called Graszyn. All the buildings along the main road had been razed, including many kilns for brick-making, the town's chief industry. In other towns and villages through which we had passed there was destruction due to bombing and shelling, but this looked like organised razing.

I asked the reason.

"That was done in retaliation for sniping," said the colonel who acted as my guide. "Two days ago, after the main body of our troops had passed through, the rearguards were suddenly fired upon by Polish civilians sniping from their homes. Several of our officers and men were killed. Of course, we cannot stand for sniping. So, by way of reprisal, we simply destroyed all the buildings along the main street."

____________________
*
The Propaganda Ministry invited one American news association representative to fly to Poland. The correspondents for A.P., U.P., and I.N.S. agreed to draw lots.

-96-

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What about Germany?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Foreword 6
  • Contents 8
  • Illustrations 10
  • I: the Modern Genghis Khan 11
  • Ii: Why Hitler? 19
  • Iii. Preparing the Ground 26
  • Iv: Why Wasn't Hitler Stopped? 36
  • V: "Terror is a Wholesome Thing" 44
  • Vi: the Nazis in Control 52
  • Vii: Fat Years Follow the Lean 60
  • Viii: the Birds of Prey 69
  • Ix: Heil Hitler! 77
  • X: Der Führer in Person 84
  • Xi: Observing the War Machine in Action 96
  • Xii: Lessons Learned from the Enemy 112
  • Xiii: More Lessons from the Enemy 120
  • Xiv: the Westwall 132
  • Xv: Bottlenecks 138
  • Xvi: Hitler's Headaches 149
  • Xvii: is There Another Germany? 161
  • Xviii: the Relapse into Barbarism 177
  • Xix: the Secret Press Instructions 191
  • Xx: the Battle of Words 197
  • Xxi: Shaping a People's Mind 208
  • Xxii: the War of Nerves 218
  • Xxiii: the Foreign Press Gets into Trouble 226
  • Xxiv: Sugared Bread and the Whip 234
  • Xxv: Fishing in Troubled Waters 244
  • Xxvi: A Better Place to Live In 253
  • Xxvii: An Abrupt End to a Long Stay 262
  • Xxviii: What Can Topple Hitler? 272
  • Index 281
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