September 1, 1939: The Invasion of Poland

Posted by Sarah Seippel on

September 1, 2018

On This day in History

For most countries, the sun shines fiercely on the land from the August up until April. The excruciating summer heat is a relief to many,  This had to have been especially true to those who lived prior to the invention of air conditioning.  I can only image that the change in temperature and humidity was celebrated during these times, especially across Western European countries.  Although the intense summer heat has passed, there is still plenty of daylight left. In today's society, this sounds like the ideal environment to enjoy a relaxing weekend in countries like France or Poland; however, if you were living in Europe in 1939, you would want to be far, far away from these countries.  That is because on this day in history, the German forces used this as an opportunity to bombard Poland on both land and from the air.

Nearly a century ago, German forces invaded Poland, beginning World War II.  The decision that Adolf Hitler made to move his troops in was a gamble because his machinery was not yet at full strength, and his country's economy was still lock into peacetime production.  Despite the uncertainty and her generals urges for caution, Hitler dismissed their concerns.  He came in at full force, calling for extensive bombing to destroy air capacity, railroads, and communication lines.  This is referred to as the “blitzkrieg” strategy.  The first hit was by a bomb dropped by aircraft of the town of Wielun, killing over one-thousand people.  Moments later, Germans tanks opened fire in the city of Danzig.  It is estimated that over sixty-five thousand died from the invasion, one-hundred-thirty-three-thousand were wounded, and six-hundred-ninety-four-thousand were captured. 

At a glance, this scene paints a picture of brutality, but the true significant of this attack lies more so within Hitler’s own philosophy and political views.  It is arguable that this attack on Poland as a defensive action made by Hitler, but it is more likely that the invasion was to gain territory and wipe out a high concentration of Jewish citizens.  Hitler was confident that this invasion would result in a short, victorious war.  He made this presumption because he perceived the British and French as  weak, and he thought they would offer for a peace settlement rather than waging war.  To Hitler's surprise, both allies of the overrun nations declared war two days later,  initiating World War Two.


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