Poland hastens to claim that Germany began firing at three o'clock at night, from 31 August to 1 September 1939. Let Germany claim the opposite. Let the democratic countries hasten to ascertain the aggressor in their radio broadcasts on the same day. Let Germany hold England responsible for the war. Who is to blame?
This external determination of the aggressor-culprit is perhaps meaningful for historical formulations, it is meaningful for peace conference reports, it is meaningful for the international general public, whose sense of proof needs to be fulfilled.
However, we have witnessed how this formal notion of culpability is hidden beyond finding in diplomatic documents, in one-on-one conversations, in the determination of temporal concurrences and differences, in the propaganda of the press, radios and speeches of statesmen.
For those who do not stick to the letter, however, the meaning is quite clear: England and France are determined to put an end to Nazi Germany. Italy will be or is being compensated. Russia will wait for the time being. America must, whether it wants to or not, give at least material and moral support to its capitalist colleagues. A new order awaits Central Europe.
The simple Germans, and they are simple for the most part, believed until the evening of August 31 that peace would be preserved. At the Kroll Opera House on the morning of Friday, September 1st, they received an announcement of a play they had not expected. They hoped to read on the theatre sign: PEACE. A Heroic Opera in Five Acts. Scene one: German youths set fire to a synagogue and SA and SS troops torture defenceless Jewish men and women. Scene two: the destruction of Masonic-Marxist art. Scene three: the victorious occupation of foreign territory without a fight. Scene four: the return of the colonies. Scene five: the flag salute.
Oh, but this time the sign for Kroll's opera (on the red poster) reads: WAR!
There are indeed the props of earlier performances: there are banners and messengers bringing telegrams, enthusiastic telegrams from a population that has just been annexed to the Reich.
Yet in the next, the usual call to the population to enjoy themselves is no longer made, but
Audiences are afraid to look at the stage, afraid to see something they feared, something they covered up earlier with enthusiastic shouts and songs. They are afraid of seeing corpses lying on the ground in horrible postures, afraid of seeing horribly twisted limbs and grinning faces, afraid of hearing blasphemy from the mouths of people who no longer care about people, about the world, about God, about anything, because they are afflicted with unbearable suffering. They are afraid of seeing on the beautiful stage of Kroll's opera the emaciated faces of starving women and children, that expressionist painting that was burned and thrown out of all the German galleries.
The play that Kroll's opera announces in its repertoire is no longer called Peace, but War.