Axis vs Allies: Poland to Ifugao

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    IT began on a September day and concluded on a September day.

    The Second Imperialist War. The Anti-Fascist War. The Global War of Annihilation. Hitler and Hirohito’s War of Aggression. World War II.

    Lebensraum. Van der Leun’s Corollary. Ritchie Boys. Josiah DuBois’ report (“Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of this Government in the Murder of the Jews).” Special Mission 43. 1942 “Police Decree for the Regulation of Bathing.” USS Eldridge. Simon R. Green’s “Bomber’s Moon.”
    Filthy 13. Senjō no Merī Kurisumasu. Operation Gomorrah (Firebombing Hamburg). Second Bill of Rights. Erich von Manstein and the “sickle cut” maneuver. Bethel Confession. 17th Waffen-SS Panzer Grenadier Division. Beast of Bataan. Conseil Nationale de la Resistance. Wansee Protocol. United Nations War Crimes Commission. Hunters-ROTC Guerrillas. Zentrale Stelle (Central Office of the State Justice Administrations for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes). Switch No. 8 AP. Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. Shostakovich’s Leningrad. Sgt. Rock and Easy Company. Bookkeeper of Auschwitz. Major-General Roelof T. Overakker (Territorial Commander of Middle Sumatra). Sparrow Force. Soviet PPSh-41 submachine gun. Showa Tenno Dokuhakuroku. United States Arm Forces in the Far East. Weather station Kurt. Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3. Casablanca.

    Elements of WW2. It all started with the address by Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of the Reich, before the Reichstag, 01 September 1939: “I am determined to solve (1) the Danzig question; (2) the question of the Corridor; and (3) to see to it that a change is made in the relationship between Germany and Poland that shall ensure a peaceful co-existence. In this I am resolved to continue to fight until either the present Polish government is willing to continue to bring about this change or until another Polish Government is ready to do so. I am resolved to remove from the German frontiers the element of uncertainty, the everlasting atmosphere of conditions resembling civil war.”

    Thus, the September campaign (Kampania wrześniowa). Blitzkrieg. Kriegsmarine battleship Schleswig-Holstein. Polish Westerplatte fortress. Luftwaffe raids on Krakow. Polish torpedo boat Mazur. Nazi gauleiter declares Danzig anschluss with Germany. Swedish mediator Birger Dahlerus. Italian Foreign Minister Count Galeazzo Ciano. Polish 7TP light tanks. Schützen regiments. Field Army “Bernolák.” Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz. Special Operational Group Narew (Brig. Gen. C. Mlot-Fijalkowski).

    In London, at the HC Debate, 03 September 1939, Mr. Churchill said: “This is not a question of fighting for Danzig or fighting for Poland. We are fighting to save the whole world from the pestilence of Nazi tyranny and in defense of all that is most sacred to man. This is no war for domination or imperial aggrandizement or material gain; no war to shut any country out of its sunlight and means of progress. It is a war, viewed in its inherent quality, to establish, on impregnable rocks, the rights of the individual, and it is a war to establish and revive the stature of man. Perhaps it might seem a paradox that a war undertaken in the name of liberty and right should require, as a necessary part of its processes, the surrender for the time being of so many of the dearly valued liberties and rights.” [Hansard, 03 September 1939]

    Elsewhere: Zhukov and the Soviet Red Army faced Japanese Kwantung Army at the disputed border between Mongolia and Manchukuo. In Manila, the President of the Philippines told the Legislature: “We are confronting a situation which demands the exercise of prudence and foresight. We must be alive to the problems which may arise at any moment. We must be ready to cooperate with America and to protect the interests of our people. With this end in view, I have come to you to ask that necessary and adequate legislation be passed to empower this government to meet any emergency that may arise.” [www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1939/09/05/message-of-president-quezon-to-the-second-national-assembly-on-loyalty-to-and-cooperation-with-the-united-states-during-the-european-war-september-5-1939/]

    It began with Hitler’s Poland campaign (Polenfeldzug). It concluded with the surrender of General Tomoyuki Yamashita in Kiangan, Ifugao that led to the end of the Second World War in the Philippines. Yamashita’s last message to his countrymen admitted:

    “Of course I should have committed suicide when I surrendered, as ordered by the emperor in accordance with the Japanese code of the samurai. In fact, I once decided to do so when I attended the surrender ceremonies at Kiangan and Baguio, at which General Percival, whom I had defeated [in Singapore], was also present. What prevented me from committing such an egocentric act was the presence of my soldiers, who did not yet know that the war was over at that time. By refusing to take my own life, I was able to set my men free from meaningless deaths, as those stationed around Kiangan were ready to commit suicide. I really felt pain from the shame of remaining alive, in violation of the samurai’s code of ‘dying at the appropriate time in an appropriate place.’ I therefore can imagine how much more difficult it is for people like you to remain alive and re-build Japan rather than being executed as a war criminal. If I were not a war criminal, I would still have chosen a difficult path, bearing shame to stay alive and atone for my sins until natural death comes, no matter how you all might despise me.” [Yuki Tanaka, “Last Words of the Tiger of Malaya,” Japan Focus, Posted September 22, 2005]

    Today, a law (Republic Act No. 11216) declared September 3 of every year a special working public holiday throughout the Philippines in commemoration of the surrender of the Japanese military forces led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita.

    In Europe, the German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the audience attending the Polish Republic’s commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War: “This war was a German crime…The terror began in Wieluń – a place whose fate is still unfamiliar to far too many people in my country.”

    “As a German guest, I stand barefoot before you on this square. I look gratefully to the Polish people’s fight for freedom. I bow in grief before the victims’ pain. I ask for forgiveness for Germany’s historical guilt. I recognize our enduring responsibility.” [Der Bundespräsident, Speeches, Commemoration of Second World War at Warsaw; www.bundespraesident.de]

    For his part, Polish President Andrzej Duda appealed: “business as usual and turning a blind eye is not a recipe for peace. It is a simple way to encourage aggressive personalities.”

    “The enlightenment driven away, The habit-forming pain, Mismanagement and grief: We must suffer them all again.” – W. H. Auden [“September 1, 1939”]

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