September 1, 1939-Poland
The day was clear and warm. Dusk on its way to darkness was about to surround the citizens of Poland and very soon after that other European countries. The spread of evil was perpetrated essentially by one person, Adolf Hitler. The rise of Adolf Hitler and his henchmen was one of the most terrible and unbelievable stories in the history of the world. These men marched over lowlands, highlands, and mountains.
Hitler’s hatred of the Jewish race was an obsession. Jews over twelve years of age had to wear a Star of David on their clothes. Their bank accounts were seized. Their houses and businesses were confiscated. Hospitals and schools were denied to them. Their Synagogues were closed. Finally, the Jews and others considered undesirable were forced into ghettos and not allowed to leave under punishment of death.
When Hitler became the leader of Germany, he mobilized criminal elements who beat up his enemies. They became a paramilitary organization, the “brown shirts” named after their all-brown uniforms. He took hoodlums, gave them a brown shirt with an armband sporting a swastika, taught them the Nazi salute, and handed them each a stick to beat others. Once he got absolute power no one controlled him. Hitler managed to erase millions of the Jews throughout Europe.
He began his destruction and World War II with a Blitzkrieg. Tanks, the Luftwaffe dropping bombs, foot soldiers, and the cavalry stormed into Poland, surprising the residents, from three directions the north, east, and south. World War II began September 1, 1939.
After the shock of what was happening to them subsided, the Poles formed resistance groups, home army units, and Partisans. They worked together to fight the demon. They covered back roads, the woods, and eventually roads within the city limits. They blew up trains and sabotaged factories manufacturing war machines for the German war efforts, worked wireless radios, and helped men and women escape the country and prisoners break out of the death camps before it was their time to enter the gas chamber.
When she read of the women who made a difference in World War II, the story of the Holocaust fascinated Lily O’Malley. Once she began to read the stories and diaries of the women, it was hard for her to not stop reading until she reached the last page.
The women fought like men. Some women became leading figures in the resistance. They trained in London, England, for eight months with the Special Operations Executive—SOE—and MI6. After their training, they parachuted back into Poland and other countries of their origins helping hundreds of Jews and enemy soldiers escape.
Women, because they were considered the weaker sex, were able to run circles around the Gestapo. The secret police employing underhanded and terrorist methods in the Nazi regime. Some of these women even topped the Gestapo’s most-wanted list. Although a few were captured and severely tortured, when caught by the German SS, the men who wore black uniforms and were in charge of intelligence and espionage, they never gave up their fellow resistance workers. A couple of the women sentenced to death managed to evade execution by bribing a guard.
During the war, leaves turned the glorious colors of red, yellow, and orange in the warm fall and crunched under foot when they fell from the trees. Then a foggy humid period morphing into a snowy winter came. Soon shortages of wood and food followed. The enemy and allies huddled in front of fires and made the best of what they had. After a few months, a warm and sunny spring and summer arrived. Green leaves filled the tree branches. Birds mated, raising their young in their nests. Bees hovered over flowers and butterflies flitted through the gardens.
The season’s progressed year after year. The war waged on. The Germans trampled over Poland and through Europe leaving a wake of destruction and death in their path. The gruesome scenes would never be forgotten.
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