Seventy-eight years ago today a far-right, nationalist president--who been elected only five years earlier--set in motion the start of World War II.
At 4:45 a.m., on September 1, 1939 some 1.5 million German troops invaded Poland all along its 1,750-mile border with German-controlled territory. Simultaneously, the German Luftwaffe bombed Polish airfields, and German warships and U-boats attacked Polish naval forces in the Baltic Sea.
Nazi leader Adolf Hitler claimed the massive invasion was a defensive action, but Britain and France were not convinced. On September 3, they declared war on Germany, initiating World War II.
To Hitler, the conquest of Poland would bring Lebensraum, or “living space,” for the German people. According to his plan, the “racially superior” Germans would colonize the territory and the native Slavs would be enslaved. German expansion had begun in 1938 with the annexation of Austria and then continued with the occupation of the Sudetenland and then all of Czechoslovakia in 1939. Both had been accomplished without igniting hostilities with the major powers, and Hitler hoped that his invasion of Poland would likewise be tolerated.Thanks to the sacrifices of men and women across the globe the Nazis were stopped. Let us pause this Labor Day Weekend to remember why the Nazis were crushed.
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