On this day: Germany invades Poland

September 1 1939: Start of the Second World War


For the second time in less than 20 years Britain and France were declaring war on Germany, this time, for the invasion of Poland.

Hitler's obsession with expanding Germany into a greater nation with more "Lebensraum" (living space) began with the Polish territories.

On the Eastern side of Germany past Poland laid another German territory, East Prussia. In the years leading up to this Hitler tried everything to unite the territories by manipulating Poland through schemes such as the Anti Commitern Pact and the German-Polish Non Aggression Pact. However, all had failed and Poland was becoming unsettled by Germany's behaviour with Russia; thus fearful of losing independence.

So, Hitler decided to obtain the land by force and without warning on the 1st September 1939 1.5 million German troops invaded Poland from the North, South and West.

In response to this Britain and France mobilised their troops to support Poland. Germany made swift progress by land and air because the Polish forces were weak and unprepared.

German bomber planes were obliterating large Polish cities such as, Krakow and Warsaw. Five separate armies were destroying the Polish defence on foot. There were many Jewish and Non Jewish casualties. By the evening the Nazis were listing their demands for dividing up the conquered Polish Land and as a result Britain and France had declared war in Poland's defence.

Early JC reports portrayed the environment as very difficult and the Polish Prime Minister talking to the paper stated "the Jews had done their duty in an exemplary manner, fighting heroically for Poland" and "the misfortune of war had united the entire nation" against the Nazis.

What the JC said: Meanwhile, official Nazi German broadcasts belie the reports of a change in the official attitude towards the Jews. Attacks are made regularly in the news bulletins. They are still saying that Britain is fighting for "Jewish financiers and Jewish gold." In one broadcast, it was declared that the verminous atmosphere left by the hundreds of thousands of Jewish inhabitants of, beleaguered Warsaw would have to be blown away.

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Last updated: 10:48am, September 2 2011