Poland marks 70th anniversary of World War II beginning

September 1, 2009 08:21

Polish leaders marked the 70th anniversary of World War II in a somber ceremony at dawn Tuesday on the Baltic peninsula where the conflict began, hailing those who gave their lives to defeat Nazi Germany. The ceremony began at 4:45 am - the exact hour on September 1, 1939 that the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein shelled a tiny Polish military outpost on Westerplatte, where the Polish navy's arsenal was housed, in the war's opening salvo. Later in the day, European and American officials - former friends and foes from the war - were to meet in Gdansk for other ceremonies to pay tribute to the tens of millions who lost their lives in the conflict. At the Westerplatte peninsula - the site of Nazi Germany's opening assault on Poland - Polish political and religious leaders recalled the sacrifices their countrymen made in the struggle against the overwhelming forces of Hitler's Germany.

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