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The Nazi Invasion of Canada

Updated on March 5, 2019
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Robert writes about interesting and lesser known historical events and unusual places and people.

Nazis Invading Winnipeg

German Nazi Soldiers Invading Canada in World War 2
German Nazi Soldiers Invading Canada in World War 2

In 1942, the world had been at war for almost three years. The Nazis ruled most of western Europe, having conquered France and had pushed far into Russia. The Japanese Empire had conquered most of the Pacific and China. But at least the people Canada and the United States had been spared the horrors of Nazism. Their cities had been spared from aerial bombardment and the front was far away.

All that changed one winter's day, when Nazi bombers suddenly appeared over the City of Winnipeg, the capital city of the Province of Manitoba. The Nazis were coming!

Anti Aircraft Fire

The defenders immediately opened fire with Anti Aircraft guns but the German bombers circled over the city, dropping bombs on key military installations including bridges and rail lines. Elsewhere in the province, Nazi aircraft appeared over Flin Flon, and Brandon, terrorizing the inhabitants. The nightmare of war had come to Canada's heartland.

German Troops

Shortly after the airplanes began bombing the City, German troops made their appearance on the outskirts of the city. The defenders set up road blocks at key intersections, and placed tanks in the streets.

German and Canadian troops exchanged fire. At first the defenders held their positions but soon they were pushed back. Bridges and rail lines were blown up to slow the attackers, sending large plumes of black smoke into the sky.

By mid day it was all over. Winnipeg had fallen, as had the smaller cities of Brandon, Virden and

The Nazi Flag Rises Over Canada

German Troops Take Down The Canadian Flag and Raise the Flag of Nazi Germany (World War 2 Photo)
German Troops Take Down The Canadian Flag and Raise the Flag of Nazi Germany (World War 2 Photo)

German Occupation of Canada

The Germans lost no time in imposing an iron fist over the Canadians. Nazi troops and tanks brazenly paraded down Winnipeg's Main Street, and then began arresting anyone who might put up an opposition. The Premier of the Province and most of his Cabinet where arrested as they sat in emergency session at the Legislature. The publishers of the leading newspapers were rounded up, as were the Chief or police and other government officials.

The Nazi stranglehold on society was total and complete. Using the same blueprint they had used in their occupation of Europe, the Nazi's issued a proclamation setting out the new rules. Anyone breaking the Germans' dictates would be summarily executed without trial.

A curfew was imposed. Civilians were required to billet German soldiers in their homes, all organizations were disbanded, and the display of the Canadian flag or any other national symbol except the Swastika was forbidden. Anyone speaking out against the new Reich administration would be shot.

Books that the Nazis found objectionable were taken from the libraries and burned in large bonfires. The newspapers began publishing German propaganda and the radio broadcast incessant praise of the Fuhrer and orders from the new overlords.

The city of Winnipeg was renamed Himmlerstadt and the province was placed under the leadership of a Nazi gauleitier, who ruled with an iron fist. When the Nazi soldiers were not rounding up dissidents, they were terrorizing the population, and looting stores. Church services were forbidden and priests who disobeyed were arrested.

Rounding Up Opposition Leaders

Prominent Canadian Citizens Rounded Up and Being Sent to Internment Camps By the Nazis
Prominent Canadian Citizens Rounded Up and Being Sent to Internment Camps By the Nazis

This Really Happened

Chances are you have never heard the story of how the Nazis invaded the center of North America and took over an entire Canadian city during World War 2 But the events described really happened; only that things were not as they seemed.

The Nazi soldiers were actually Canadians wearing German uniforms they had rented from Hollywood studios. The planes were actually Canadian bombers disguised to look like German planes. The destruction of the bridges and rail lines simulated with dynamite and tons of coal dust thrown up in the air. The guns were all firing blanks. The books that were burned were all library discards that would have been thrown out anyway.


If Day

The entire incident was part of a remarkable campaign to get people to buy War Bonds to fund the war effort. The people behind this elaborate scheme, called If Day, thought that if they could show what it would be like to lose the war to the Nazis, the citizens would dig deep into their pockets and donate generously. They were right. In fact, this elaborate scheme resulted in record-breaking purchases of war bonds. It was a resounding success.

It is not clear to what extent all of the local citizens knew in advance what was going to happen, and it is surprising that no one seems to have taken real pot shots at the occupiers. However everything seems to have gone according to plan, and this mock invasion was so successful that it was repeated on a smaller scale in other Canadian cities.

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Canadian Men and Women Look On In Horror As the Nazis Parade Down the Streets
Canadian Men and Women Look On In Horror As the Nazis Parade Down the Streets

Different Times

I have to wonder if something like this could be staged today. In order to make this go smoothly, thousands of people and different organizations had to work together for the greater good. The newspapers and radio stations agreed to surrender control and lost revenues. Streets and bridges were blocked and business disrupted.

I suspect that in today's more divided and individualized age, a lot of business and organizations would have refused to play along. In fact, they probably would have sued the organizers into the poorhouse with thousands of law suits alleging loss of business, damage to property, and emotional trauma. It makes one long for better days when society was less divided, and could come together to get things done.

© 2019 Robert P

Comments

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    • Marja Radic profile image

      Marja Radic 

      2 years ago from Split, Croatia

      Such an interesting story. Never knew this. And very well written! And I agree with you in your last paragraph, although I think these are different people because people make those different times, not the other way around.

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      2 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks a million for posting this, Robert P. I can't believe I never knew about this Nazi invasion of Canada. Nice work.

    • L.M. Hosler profile image

      L.M. Hosler 

      2 years ago

      Very interesting. I really thought as I read it that this really did happen. I love history and was wondering why I had never heard of this happening. Great story.

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