Gerdau Hermann, now 100 years old, was a gunner aboard the Nazi battleship Schleswig Holstein which in the early hours of September 1, 1939 made the first shots against the Polish Westerplatte base.
"Hitler told the world that the bombardment began at 5:45 in the morning, but it was not like that. It started at 4:50. I know because I was there", gunner Gerdau confessed to the world for the first time, cited by "Daily Mail". It was one of the first lies that Hitler said to his people and to the world during the war.
Gerdau, which now resides in a nursing home near Hamburg, at that time was 26. "We knew nothing of Hitler's war plans, but immediately before the invasion of Poland strange things happened," he recalled, explaining that during the night the infantry prepared machine guns and ammunition on board a ship and "early morning next day came the order to open fire on the Westerplatte Polish naval base that was only 500 meters from us".
"When the call for battle I jumped out of the hammock and ran to my place. We fired the first shots of the war. I embraced the euphoria of victory. We were all surprised by the Nazi regime. But I was not excited about the war in general. And soon it became a nightmare", said Hermann Gerdau.
Most Gerdau companions died on Bismarck battleship, sunk by the British Navy in 1941. The gunner was taken to a Nazi submarine. In 1943 he was awarded the first class Iron Cross for the success of the operations in the North Atlantic. In 1945 Gerdau was captured and imprisoned first in Britain and then in the U.S.. Once returned to Germany the sailor was devoted to whaling.