On his way to power, there were many who suffered at the hands of his proxies and his insane lieges. Not surprisingly, some 130,000 dissident voices were extinguished by Adolph Hitler. It was the necessary antecedent to having competing security apparatuses fight to see who can be more ruthless and cruel. The SA and the SS battled each other in the night, and in the public eye as well.
The border of Germania was advanced first bloodlessly, only with the mass of the Wehrmacht and the force of Hitler’s political rhetoric and palaver did he double the size of the country. When Austria capitulated to the annexation, political enemies were driven to silence and retreated into fear. When the Nazis did a replevin of the Sudetenland, or roughly one million square miles of land from Czechoslovakia, over 800,000 Czechs were forced out of the homes. Already the first mass of refugees that would mark World War II was afoot. Thusly, the only reliable homegrown democracy central Europe had ever known was lost.
Hitler played fast and loose with promises and lies. Often he spruiked about honor and glory and Germania, but at the end of the day, he had the biggest army in Europe, and there was the difference. After the Czechs and the Austrians caved, and then Luxembourg and Sweden, even Hitler was looking for a real fight. He knew Russian would be a fight and a big one, but before he did that, he had to open the doors to Russia through Poland. During the interval between Barbarossa and the end of World War II, Russia and Germany swept through Poland four times. Each times a new army with a newer colder leader contemptuous and void of compassion fossicking through the population looking for more victims upon whom they could perpetrate their cruelties. Ribbentrop and Molotov danced around each other and signed a treaty known as the Munich accords. For Hitler this treaty bought time, essentially splitting Poland and occupying it. While the Germans were still fighting in the Balkans and in the Western edges of France and in North Africa, he didn’t need a new front on his East. Not Yet. For Hitler, once the Munich Accords were signed, the doors to Poland opened.
In Poland, the Germans and the Russians took turns seeing who could bestow upon the population the most pain. Polish, the language, was a crime under German occupation. You could be imprisoned or shot for speaking the only language you know. Teaching a Polish child Polish was a crime. Teaching a Polish child to count to more than ten was a crime. Poles were not allowed to ride a bus or a train or in a car. Putting gold into the tooth of a pole was a crime. By war’s end, Russians alone sent 1.6 million Poles to camps. Germans and Poles killed six million Poles.
The advance into Poland on September 1st, 1939 blooded the Wehrmacht. So did France in 1940 and then North Africa. The Wehrmacht won so often and so convincingly, that by the time the Russians were ever in a fight, the prevailing wisdom was that the Germans were impervious. Even six months after invading Russia, the Germans could not see that they were playing tennis on a football field. They were outnumbered, out sized and no matter how good they were, eventually the Russian juggernaut would overwhelm the Nazis.