World War II

THE MAN WHO STARTED THE WAR

On the afternoon of August 31, 1939, close to the Polish border in the German town of Gleiwitz, SS-Sturmbannführer Alfred Naujocks was waiting nervously in a hotel room with a team of seven SS men. They had arrived in town two days earlier and, posing as mining engineers, reconnoitered their target. Now they were waiting for the word to go. Their task was to stage an attack to give Hitler the excuse he wanted to declare war on Poland. They were starting World War II.

Naujocks, a 27-year-old from Kiel on Germany’s Baltic coast, had been an early convert to Nazism. Joining the SS in 1931, he had briefly attended university where he developed a talent for brawling and had his nose flattened by an iron bar–wielding Communist. Described by one contemporary as an “intellectual gangster,” Naujocks had risen swiftly within the SS hierarchy, falling under the patronage of Rein-hard Heydrich, head of the German police network and SS security service, the Sicherheitsdienst, or SD. In that capacity, Naujocks assassinated a dissident Nazi in Prague in 1935 and helped establish a notorious high-class brothel in Berlin, Salon Kitty, patronized by visiting VIPs who could then be easily blackmailed; the rooms were bugged and the “madam” was an SS agent.

Having thoroughly proven himself to Heydrich, Naujocks was the SD leader’s agent of choice to run the mission in Gleiwitz. And it was Heydrich’s high-pitched, nasal voice down the telephone line from Berlin that gave him the code words to commence: “Grossmutter gestorben” (Grandmother has died). With that, Naujocks called his men together for a final briefing, reiterating their respective tasks and objectives. The mission was on.

TENSIONS BETWEEN Germany and Poland, which had rumbled on for some two decades, had spiked in the preceding few months. The ostensible reason for the friction was Germany’s territorial losses

Stai leggendo un'anteprima, registrati per continuare a leggere.

Altro da World War II

World War II11 min letti
One False Step
First Lieutenant Kermit A. Tyler was the next man up on the squadron duty roster, so he resigned himself to spending the coming Sunday morning, 4 to 8 a.m., at the Aircraft Information Center at Fort Shafter on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. At 3 a.m.
World War II13 min letti
Pulled Punches
At about 3:40 a.m. on December 8, 1941, the phone rang inside Lieutenant General Douglas MacArthur’s lavish apartment atop the Manila Hotel. It was MacArthur’s chief of staff, calling with the shocking news that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor
World War II1 min letti
Fighting Form
Answer to the August Challenge: “It was very clear that the barrel of the Sturmtiger is waaaaay too long,” says reader Marco Peter of the Netherlands. He’s right—as were 108 others; the unaltered photo is at far left. A number of you thought we messe