The Economist’s leader of September 9th 1939 at the outbreak of the second world war
IN the last issue of The Economist we were able to carry the chronicle of great events up to the German 16-point "offer" broadcast to the world on Thursday night. It was suggested at the time that the "offer" was a piece of propaganda, since it had only been communicated to Poland two hours before it was declared by Berlin to have been rejected.* What could not be known when this comment was penned in the small hours of Friday morning was that even the British Government itself had had no knowledge of the "terms" save such as could be gathered by the Ambassador from a gabbled recital in German by the excited Ribbentrop. Nor was there then any possibility of knowing that Hitler had given his army and his air force orders to attack Poland at dawn, without further excuse or formal declaration of war.
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