Poland marks 74th anniversary of WWII outbreak
September 2, 2013
PM Donald Tusk
Poland’s PM Donald Tusk spoke about a difficult lesson that Poles received on September 1, 1939, during the commemorative events held at Westerplatte, northern Poland, where the Second World War began 74 years ago.
“September 1 is for us, Poles still a dramatic lesson of the outbreak of war, which in the beginning was lost by Poland. Every year we remember this lesson again and again. It was so tragic because at that time Polish soldiers, here at Westerplatte and everywhere else where Nazi Germany invaded Poland, defended their homeland in the name of a sacred cause, but also with a sense of overwhelming loneliness.
During the Battle of Westerplatte 200 Polish soldiers held out against the far superior naval and air power of the Third Reich for seven days before capitulating.
Poland was the only European country to be invaded and occupied by two totalitarian powers: Nazi Germany and the communist Soviet Union. From the first days, Poland was left without support from its powerful allies at the time, Britain and France. Although the governments of both major powers formally declared war on Hitler Sept. 3, 1939, they took no real steps to prevent the ravages of war from spreading all over Europe and, eventually, the whole world.
While Poland was fighting against invading German troops, at a conference in Abbeville Sept. 12, Britain and France put on hold any operations against Germany without even notifying Poland. They thus paved the way for Stalin to fulfill his obligations to Hitler- specified in a secret protocol to the Aug. 23, 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov pact between the Soviet Union and Germany.