Odd Facts About World War 2 in 1939 (1)

The Caption in War Illustrated for these articles reads: “Worth Noting Today, and Re-reading in Years to Come”

Grey Hairs For Firing Line
“I watched columns of older reservists march the trains that were to carry them to points near the Polish border. There was no flag waving, no military bands. The men shambled along dejectedly. Bald heads were seen all along the line and no one in the ranks was without greying hair. Once man in five seemed to have a snow white head. ” (Berlin Correspondent in News Chronicle, August 28th)

Death Penalty Threat
The German broadcast stations announced as soon as war began that it was a punishable offence to listen in to French broadcasting stations. Anyone doing so, or passing on information picked up from French broadcasts, was liable to a death penalty, it was announced.

German Radio Sets Confiscated
All radio sets in Germany have been banned and will be confiscated with the exception of the small ‘people’s sets’, which can only get local stations.

Heil Frieden!
There were remarkable scenes in Liverpool Street Station on August 26th when four trains carrying nearly 800 people left for the continent. Altogether, between 1,500 and 1,800 foreigners left during the day, most of them were Germans who has been advised by their Embassy to leave. The one topic of conversation as the trains stood waiting in the platforms was the common hope for peace. There were no cries of “heil Hitler” as the train drew out. Instead there were cries of “Heil Frieden” – hail peace.

Ration Cards in Germany
Rationing of many foodstuffs, as well as of textiles and boots and shoes, was introduced by decree on August 27th, and cards have been distributed throughout Germany. Food will be distributed in the following quantities per head, per week: Meat-25oz; butter, margarine or oil-15oz; sugar-10oz; jam-4oz; coffee or coffee substitute-2oz; tea or substitute-3/4soz; milk-2.5pints and soap-1oz.

Women Rush To Join Up
A one-way traffic system had to be put into operation in the corridors at the Womens Voluntary Service headquarters in SW London, because of the rush of the women to join up.

Woes for the Hausfrau
“The German woman wear clothes made of ‘spun-wood’ that is to say, artificial wool made from wood pulp. A skirt looked nice enough until you had sat on it for an hour or two, but then there were creases like railways lines. And woe betide a ‘spun wood’ suit that got caught in the rain! Sheets are a problem in Germany today; wash them they become soup! The girls in the shops warn you not to iron these sheets and dresses with an overhot iron, and on no account to boil them” (An Englishwoman resident in Berlin, in Daily Mail, August 29th 1939)

Don’t Forget the Poor Majorities!
It has become a widespread habit in post War Europe to give more attention to minorities than to the poor old majorities, which after all, are also there. Of the 35,000,000 of Poland, 25,000,000 are Jews and Ukrainians, who hate the Nazi menace as least as much as the Poles themselves. (AT Lutoslawki, Daily Mail August 1939)

India’s Loyalty
Leading Indian Princes have offered to place at the disposal of the King-Emperor all the resources of their States. The Maharaja of Bikaner stated:
“It can safely be predicted that the Princes of India will rally like one man round their beloved King-Emperor and stand solid behind the Empire should war unfortunately break out”
The Viceroy, the Marquess of Lunlithgow, has received the rulers of States in all parts of India assurances of loyalty in the even of war.
The first ruler to place his troops and resources unreservedly at the disposal of the King-Emperor was the wealthy Nazim of Hyderabad, whose State is a large as Italy. Others who followed included the Maharajas of Travancore, Kashmir, Bikaner, Kapurthala and Jind.
The Nawab of Rampir, who recalls the example of his forefathers as the time of the Indian mutiny and the Great War, proudly offers his personal services.

Mind the Pitch!
One of the nicest of the ARP stories has cropped up. It illustrates this England, this British way of doing things:
In a certain suburb, an ARP expert with a wide experience of trench and bomb shelter systems noticed some young men digging a straight trench alongside some playing fields. It was to be a refuge in case of sudden air raids. My friend pointed out that the blast of a bomb at either end of the trench would immediately kill all occupants. He told them that the best way to construct such a trench would be to use the traverse or gridiron system. One of the diggers thought for a moment and then replied, “But, old boy, that would spoil the football pitch” (Star)

Nazi Cold-Bloodedness
“It is the crowded quarters which will suffer the most from bombing. Those quarters, however, are inhabited by those who have not succeeded in life – the refuse of the community in fact, which would be well rid of them. Besides, the explosions of the bomb will inevitable cause many cases of madness. The person whose nervous system is deficient will not be able to survive the shock. In this way, bombing will help us to discover the neurasthenics in our community and to remove them from social life! (Archive der Gessellschaft fur Rassenbiologie, Berlin / Race biology laboratory).
(News Review, August 18, 1939)

Britain’s Agriculture
As far as agriculture is concerned, Great Britain is in a vastly better position than she was in 1914. We have about a million more cattle, 1,250,000 sheep, 1,300,000 more pigs, and many millions more poultry than we had then. Moreover, by skilful breeding and feeding the production per animal has been greatly increased, cows, for example, yielding at least 50% more milk than in 1914.
The number of farm horses has decreased, but their place has been taken by about 50,000 land tractors and hundreds of thousands of lorries.

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