On this day, Sept. 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, the act that started World War II.
The day before, Nazi operatives had posed as Polish military officers to stage an attack on the radio station in the Silesian city of Gleiwitz. Germany used the event as the pretext for its invasion of Poland.
The New York Times article about the invasion included a report of the Gleiwitz episode as well as Chancellor Adolf Hitler’s proclamation to the German army, which portrayed Germany’s action as one of self-defense: “In order to put an end to this frantic activity no other means is left to me now than to meet force with force.” France and England declared war against Germany on Sept. 3, but neither country was prepared to fight and would not deploy a significant number of military forces until the next year, leaving Poland alone in its defense.
Although it had an army of more than 700,000, Poland was unprepared for Germany’s blitzkrieg tactics. Its army could not deploy its troops quickly enough to defend against the more powerful German forces. As a result, many civilians lost their lives.
Any hopes of repelling the invasion were dashed on Sept. 17, when the Soviet Red Army invaded from east. By the end of September, Germany and the Soviet Union had control of the country. The last organized Polish resistance was defeated on Oct. 6. The United States of America didn't enter the war until after Pearl harbor was bombed by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. #history #facts