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September 1, 1939

The BBC reports on the ceremony as Poland remembers World War start

A day of commemorations is taking place in Poland to mark the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

Leaders from 20 countries laid candles during a ceremony near Gdansk, on Westerplatte peninsula.

The ceremony marked the exact time on 1 September 1939 when the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire at point-blank range on the fort.

At the same time, the German Wehrmacht invaded Poland from east, west and south. The attacks triggered Britain and France’s declaration of war against Germany two days later.

The justification for the attack on Gdansk was The Gleiwitz incident, “a staged attack by Nazi forces posing as Poles on 31 August 1939, against the German radio station Sender Gleiwitz in Gleiwitz, Upper Silesia, Germany (since 1945: Gliwice, Poland) on the eve of World War II in Europe.”

Because they have such “warm relations” with Russia, the Polish President reminded everyone of the Soviet-Nazi pact, and the resulting occupation of parts of Poland by the Soviet Union.

6 comments

1 JimD { 09.01.09 at 1:14 pm }

The Dark Times had begun… and are still with us to some extent.

2 Bryan { 09.01.09 at 1:38 pm }

True, but other than you and I, how many remember history?

It is a major difference between Americans and the rest of the world, that we seem to ignore the past. When I hear someone talking about “the Founding Fathers” or see them utilizing symbols from the Revolution, my first reaction is to see how badly they are mangling what actually happened or was said.

3 Badtux { 09.01.09 at 11:16 pm }

Well, it doesn’t help that the Soviet Union — well, its successor states anyhow — are still occupying the 1/3rd of Poland that they occupied in 1939. Yalta moved the Polish border westward to give part of Germany to Poland to compensate to some extent, but the Poles remember that the Soviet successor states are *still* squatting on what used to be 1/3rd of Poland, yes indeedy…

– Badtux the Geography Penguin

4 Bryan { 09.01.09 at 11:44 pm }

That was repayment for the Poles and Lithuania sitting on a major chunk of Russia for a century or so, a while back.

The Russian Empire ruled a major chunk of Poland throughout the 19th century. I just did some research for a friend that involved an ancestor who was a Pole, born in what is now Lithuania, who moved to what is now Poland, and emigrated to the United States from what is now Russia, but never left the Russian Imperial Governi/province that he was born in until he left from a German port in what is now Russia. Every town had four names: German, Russian, Polish, and Lithuanian. All official papers had dates in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars.

Poland was constantly being partitioned. It was a European “board game” for centuries. If nothing else was going on, they would partition Poland.

5 Badtux { 09.02.09 at 7:28 pm }

Yeah, I know about the sordid history of Poland over the centuries. The elementary school I went to was so poor that they actually had a globe with a map of the world as it existed in 1917 immediately prior to the re-emergence of Poland as an independent nation — some teacher at some point in the far distant past had picked it up at a rummage sale and there was never any money to replace it with anything more up-to-date. The Polish-Lithuanian confederation went down for the same reason the Confederacy went down — the “state’s rights” (actually, noble’s rights) people insured the resulting confederation was basically ungovernable and eventually became partitioned amongst its neighbors. Sad way for the nation that stopped the Turks at Vienna to go down, but they brought it upon themselves, unlike what happened in 1939.

The humorous thing about Europe is that it’s been 70 years since the Soviets invaded Poland, and the Poles *still* hold a grudge about the fact that the Soviet successor states are sitting on what used to be 1/3rd of Poland, despite the fact that they got all of East Prussia and a bunch of East Germany in return. They’ll probably still be grumbling about that a hundred years from now. It’s like the Middle East in that way, where thousand year old grudges are still in play.
.-= last blog ..It took 20 years to get Medicare passed =-.

6 Bryan { 09.02.09 at 11:58 pm }

Half of the history written is pure trash, especially, Slavic history. Tsar Aleksandr the First paid to have it “improved” as he didn’t feel Slavs were appreciated. We will have to ignore the fact that the “Romanovs” were Germans beginning with Peter III, the short-lived husband of Catherine the Great.

If it hadn’t been for other groups moving through and pushing, the Slavs would have hung around their original area near Kiev.

Real Prussians, the cousins of Lithuanians, not the Germans who moved in later, got nothing again. That’s always the way – the farmers get occupied and their land gets traded among the people with weapons. [My name, originally spelled Doemke, is Prussian, not German, and my great grandfather spoke Prussian, as well as German. He was always ranting about Prussia.]

Well, Americans just don’t appreciate how “sacred” every square inch of the country is for national pride. Given the state of surveying and map making for most of history, I have a hard time taking ancient land claims seriously.

Even in the US, the site in the West that is identified as the “Four Corners” where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah meet, is not the original point as specified by Congress when the states were formed, but it has become the legal boundary by virtue of court cases and the wording of state constitutions.

Of course, the Mississippi has accomplished a few land swaps between states as it has changed its mind where it wants to flow over the years.

Old grudges are apparently too refined for American sensibilities… well, except for one. 😉