On February 19, 1942 Winnipeg, the capital city of the province Manitoba in Canada, was invaded by Nazi troops. By 5.30 am Nazi broadcasts had been made from a radio station they had taken over.
At 7.00 am air raid sirens sounded, and a blackout was ordered. And by 9.30 am the brave defenders of the city of Winnipeg surrendered to the German troops. Shortly afterwards German armored vehicles entered the city.
The Germans didn’t waste any time imposing German rules on the city.
IT IS HEREBY PROCLAIMED THAT:
1. This territory is now a part of the Greater Reich and under the jurisdiction of Col. Erich Von Neuremburg, Gauleiter of the Fuehrer.
2. No civilians will be permitted on the streets between 9:30 p.m. and daybreak.
3. All public places are out of bounds to civilians, and not more than 8 persons can gather at one time in any place.
4. Every householder must provide billeting for 5 soldiers.
5. All organizations of a military, semi-military or fraternal nature are hereby disbanded and banned. Girl Guide, Boy Scout and similar youth organizations will remain in existence but under direction of the Gauleiter and Storm troops.
6. All owners of motor cars, trucks and buses must register same at Occupation Headquarters where they will be taken over by the Army of Occupation.
7. Each farmer must immediately report all stocks of grain and livestock and no farm produce may be sold except through the office of the Kommandant of supplies in Winnipeg. He may not keep any for his own consumption but must buy it back through the Central Authority in Winnipeg.
8. All national emblems excluding the Swastika must be immediately destroyed.
9. Each inhabitant will be furnished with a ration card, and food and clothing may only be purchased on presentation of this card.
10. The following offences will result in death without trial
a) Attempting to organize resistance against the Army of Occupation
b) Entering or leaving the province without permission.
c) Failure to report all goods possessed when ordered to do so.
d) Possession of firearms.
NO ONE WILL ACT, SPEAK, OR THINK CONTRARY TO OUR DECREES
published and ordered by the Authority of (signed) Erich Von Neuremburg
Reichmarks were given out as change, and were to replace the dollar. One group of Nazis burst into the cafeteria at Great-West Life. Employees were kicked out and some jailed, while the Nazis grabbed all the food.
The Germans burned a pile of books in front of the main branch of the Winnipeg Public Library.
Even the newspapers were now under control of the German occupiers. The speed in which they operated was unprecedented.
The city of Winnipeg had experienced a Blizkrieg style attack by the German army. The Germans now had started the invasion of Canada.
Except they hadn’t , no German army had invaded.
The whole invasion was simulated It was organized by the Greater Winnipeg Victory Loan organization, which was led by prominent Winnipeg businessman J. D. Perrin. The event was the largest military exercise in Winnipeg to that point.
The event was named “If Day” it was a campaign to promote the purchase of Victory Bonds. Manitoba’s fundraising target was $45 million , including $24.5 million from Winnipeg
The simulation included 3,500 Canadian Army members, making it the largest military exercise in Winnipeg. It included 300 veterans of the First World War and a number of reserve and civilian groups.
The long day ended at 5:30 p.m. with a ceremonial release of prisoners, a parade, and speeches from the released dignitaries in front of the Parliament buildings.
Members of the organizing committee and local business people marched down Portage Avenue with banners reading: “It MUST Not Happen Here!” and “Buy Victory Bonds!”
The If Day event not only resulted in Victory Bond sales well over Greater Winnipeg’s goal, but brought Winnipeg’s innovative efforts to the attention of people throughout North America. Life Magazine ran a pictorial spread of the If Day activities in Winnipeg and in smaller centers across Manitoba.
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Manitoba Historical society