"Bathing in the Baltic Sea, washing the waves around our feet, the beach and the sun ... we can hardly part with it," Hans Buch noted in his logbook on 23 August 1939. With the training ship "Schleswig-Holstein" he left the next morning from Świnoujście direction Gdansk. "We are particularly proud, the cadets, that we are allowed to join in. We like to whistle on home leave," wrote the 19-year-old. "It's wildly romantic."
The event, in which Hans was allowed to "participate" should go down in history - as the beginning of the Second World War.
Historians Kurt and Stephan Lehnstaedt publish for the first time notes describing the attack on the Westerplatte from the perspective of an officer candidate in the anthology "80 Years After: Pictures and Diaries of German Soldiers from the Raid on Poland in 1939".
Log book Hans Buch / memorial house of the Wannsee conference
Cadet Hans book
The family-owned war diary is an extraordinary find: The high school graduate from Hanover described in his logbook not only, as was his duty, the daily events. He also illustrated them with ironic caricatures reminiscent of the American cartoon hero Popeye.
Disguised as a friendly visit, the training ship was to take the Free City of Gdansk "home to the Reich" on Hitler's orders. A Polish corridor separated East Prussia and Danzig from the German Reich in accordance with the Treaty of Versailles after the First World War. The League of Nations had also allowed Poland to use the port of Gdansk and to expand an ammunition depot on the offshore Westerplatte peninsula. The plant was actually superfluous since Poland had created its own industrial and military port in Gdynia north of it - but for Poland it had symbolic significance.
Equally symbolic, it was to be shot to rapture on August 26th by the "Schleswig-Holstein" and then conquered by German soldiers in the public eye in front of the Gdansk population.
But the mission went differently than planned. Hitler initially canceled the attack after learning that England and Poland had signed a pact and Italy was not ready for war. For the cadets of the "Schleswig-Holstein", the stay in Gdansk initially developed into a beach holiday (see picture gallery).
22 picturesFrom Hans Buch's logbook: "The moment we have been waiting for years ..."
Even on the eve of the beginning of the war, the mood was cheerful, as Hans Buch wrote.
Thursday, August 31, 1939
Two hours later, we pull to the beach in gym shorts with cheerful songs - it's time to swim in. Hei, that was a Native American feeling (...) And then we are in the dunes, shoes off - in series we storm into the salt water of the Baltic Sea, until we have no more reason under the feet, swim far out and return slightly tired to the beach (...) A few 'soldiers 'build like little boys sand castles ....'
Metropolitan Publishing House
Drawing: Hans Buch
In the evening, Hans noted: "Three of us: Reiner, Arno and I, come back from Gdansk after a rather enjoyable holiday afternoon, talk about the cream cake in the" Astoria "by V-boat, and on board there is a strange elation, which rises in the evening. After a change of guard, we, our gun crew, sit together with Hein, in a barge, beer bottles are in ice, it's a great evening, we suspect that something big is imminent. "
The training ship had previously secretly taken a shock crew of marines on board. They received instructions from the train driver for the next morning.
Friday, September 1, 1939
"Now we know it - 4:45 am, pure white is put on, the raiding party moves away, once again we shake hands with the boys, we all liked them, then it's dark and silent, the ship is dimmed down Towards dawn, the ship sets in motion toward the Westerplatte. "
For the eve of 31 August, the SS had faked an attack on the transmitter Gliwice, as an excuse for the attack on Poland. In the early morning of September 1, German dive bombers began to bomb the city of Wielun - and practically at the same time, the "Schleswig-Holstein" opened fire on the ammunition dump on Westerplatte.
Hans Buch wrote: "As I pull sleeves out of the sockets deep down in the ammunition chamber, it starts up: hmm, tower Anton was that, a slight tremor goes through the ship and then shot after shot, ten minutes on the wall and the record When we quit, everybody knows: the assault party is on. "
The German soldiers met with fierce resistance. What they did not know: Before the war, Poland had replaced the working civilians on the Westerplatte by soldiers, shelters and bunkers massively expanded. Hans believed for a long time in an adventure - days later he judged: "We have experienced the war in its gruesome reality." He had no idea of the crimes, devastation, and many millions of deaths that the war would bring in the following years.
"Not long after, our artillery resumes, and this time the barrage thunders for 1.5 hours, while on the port side, a piper has injured 4 cadets. (...) Our little Petersen has a heavy splinter above the lungs, badly injured. Neumann has the flame in his eyes, Apel, Grosskurth, Schmidt are injured, then we'll be relieved down in the ammunition chamber, come back to our guns, sleep overtired everywhere, it's a seemingly confused mess. "
Speaking loudspeakers, the ship's crew heard Hitler's speech shortly afterwards, as he announced to the Reichstag - contrary to the facts -: "Since 5.45 clock is now shot back."
Log book Hans Buch / memorial house of the Wannsee conference
Drawing: Hans Buch
"The first wounded come on board with torn uniforms earthy and blood smeared, tell, my little Tille of the Pioneer train is there, he has three shank shots. (...) After our fire, they went on, and then set the fire of the Poles from all sides and from above. "The tree shooters, that's the biggest mess," he says. "
And at the end of the day: "The fat Möller is dead, our funny hamburger is no more, the little black heart shot, Arthur is missing." We are completely silent, in the evening comes a pinnace full of clothes - a sad confirmation of the horrible news have to unload: flattened water bottles, gas masks, bloody pants, cut boots, bloody spongy socks, a steel helmet shot through from above, a jacket, a half shred, completely bloody (shot in the hand grenade bag, the boy was torn to shreds.) I know, I need I will not remember it in my logbook. "
Among the dead was the commander Lieutenant Wilhelm Henningsen. The plan, according to Hitler's order to take over the Westerplatte within a day, had failed. On board, they were waiting for air support.
Saturday, September 2, 1939
"About six o'clock in the afternoon, Battlegroup Five takes the mist cans from the boat deck to the V-boat, and we drive over to find a small handcart and drive through the empty streets, past abandoned houses onto the fields." It's incredibly quiet Along the rail track, rattling over my left foot as well, then we set up the pitchers in the fields, clear to fog up our ship. "
"During this work, we hear a deep, singing sound high in the air, we look up - the stukas come ... ... in breathless tension, we follow the bombers. (...) Detonation takes place, cement, earth flies up The earth under our feet trembles, a huge black smoke wall rises over the Westerplatte, and more and more new bombers throw off their murderous load ... "
Sunday, September 3, 1939
"The losses of the shock troops have increased to 19 dead, 50 seriously injured and 40 slightly injured."
Hans Buch, born in 1920, grew up convinced that Germany had been cheated after the First World War. His perspective is entirely influenced by National Socialist ideology and propaganda.
"England has given an ultimatum that the German troops should be withdrawn by 11 o'clock, otherwise England is in a state of war." The Fiihrer's answer is clear and unequivocal: The Englishman has finally demolished the mask and unveiled the hatred People and empire. "
"5 pm The Frenchman, who had given us a similar ultimatum, has now also entered into a state of war with us, and the old adversaries of 1914 have risen again, in them the envy of the rise of our people has been bored 'They'll soon realize that, bite on granite and get bloody heads.'
Another attack of Westerplatte was postponed. The "Schleswig-Holstein" should now bombard Gdynia.
Wednesday, September 6, 1939
"For the first time this afternoon we heard music on the radio for a long time, we did not miss it, but now we listened as if it were a present."
Thursday, September 7, 1939
"Alert has been sounding since four o'clock, the gray ship's hull slipping very slowly towards the Westerplatte at dawn. (...) Grotesque waving of the casements that protrude from the wall of the house like the wings of a lame bird." A house collapsed The shipyard is completely burned down (...) It seems to me that I see a war film, the landscape is lifeless gray, but not for much longer ... "
The "Schleswig-Holstein" opened the fire again, and after the cannonade, the attackers moved forward again. Hans stated:
"Explosions and detonations break up the air in quick succession, crashes, ruptures, in between, like the whirl of a drum, strangely dead, machine-gun fire, a huge flame in front of my eyes, a tremendous pressure of air pushes me in the chest, throws me aft about the cartridges, that I lay lengthways on deck, in the ears it sings, the blood rushes past the eardrum, like a waterfall - tower Anton has fired, I'm not aiming anymore. "
At 9:45 am the Polish defenders, cut off from any support, raised the white flag and surrendered. Twelve hours, it was their command, they should resist. One week they held out. At the continuation of the war that could not change anything - but as an impressive victory, the battle in German propaganda could no longer be presented and therefore found little more mention.
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80 years later: Pictures and diaries of German soldiers from the invasion of Poland in 1939
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Hans Buch continued his officer training. Later he was used on various ships and promoted to first lieutenant. After the war, he completed a teaching degree and, at the request of his father still trained as an industrial and commercial merchant.
What became of his artistic talent is unknown.