British reporter Clare Hollingworth has a good claim on the title of scoop of the century. For the 20th century, that is. Because it was Hollingworth who broke the story of World War II.

Hollingworth died Tuesday in Hong Kong, where she had lived for the last four decades of her life. She was 105.

In August 1939, Hollingworth was in Poland as an aid worker, but then switched careers and turned to journalism. She landed a job with Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Tensions were mounting with Germany, which had just closed border areas to nonresidents. The only exception was for diplomats. Hollingworth followed her instincts and convinced a British diplomat friend to lend her his car. She drove, alone, to the frontier, and crossed into Germany. It was her first week on the job.

There in the fields she saw endless rows of large objects under burlap sacks. When the wind blew, she saw tanks. This was her first scoop: “1,000 German tanks massed on Polish border.”

The German invasion of Poland — the beginning of World War II — began just before dawn on Sept. 1, 1939. Hollingworth was again close to the frontier. She called the British Embassy, which at first refused to believe her. She said, well, listen to this, and thrust the phone out of the window as German tanks roared past. It was the first confirmation of the invasion that the British government received. Once again, thanks to Hollingworth, the Telegraph was first with the story.

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