WWII begins

Periode: September 1, 1939 – April 8, 1940

Quote: Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf (1925): Germany will become a world power or be nothing.

1 September 1939 is generally considered the beginning of the Second World War. On that day the German air force carried out an air raid on Warsaw and the German army invaded Poland. The Russian army invaded the country on 17 September. The Polish army was inferior to its big rivals. After a month of fighting, the inevitable surrender followed on 6 October.

The invasion of Poland was not unexpected. Germany had spent years strengthening its army and expanding its territory. The main events prior to the start of the Second World War - in 1938 - Austria's Anschluss with Germany and the invasion of the German army in the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.

Although England and France declared war on Germany on September 3 they sent no troops. Between October 6, 1939 and 8 April 1940-6 months - almost no fighting took place. This period is also known as the phoney War or drôle de guerre: The Allies hoped that war would fizzle out but this was a major blunder: Hitler had only just begun. The phoney war gave him time to gain extra strength. On April 8, 1940 the German army entered Denmark and Norway and war was inevitable.

Polish infantry in 1939
Source: Wikipedia

A survivor of the bombing of Warsaw
Source: Public domain

German invasion of Poland from 1939

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