Remembering the Day the World Went to War

Eighty years ago, Adolf Hitler's war erupted. On September 1, 1939, the Nazi tyrant unleashed a lightning campaign to crush Poland. In destroying Poland, Hitler had the assistance of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, with whom he had made a pact to carve up Eastern Europe. With the Nazi murder machine striking from the west, and the Red Army invading from the east, even a determined Polish resistance could not long delay the inevitable. Surrounded, outnumbered, cut off from outside assistance, Poland was swallowed up within a month by the Nazi and Soviet evil empires.

Confronted by Hitler's naked aggression, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. In going to war with Germany, the leaders of Britain and France felt duty-bound to honor a solemn commitment that they had made to uphold the independence of Poland. This commitment, this red line laid down by the British and French governments did not deter Hitler from embarking on his war of conquest. Hitler knew that while Britain and France could declare war, neither country could do much militarily to prevent the destruction of Poland. The leaders of Britain and France had been slow to arm against the growing Nazi menace during the late 1930s. Once having declared war, they hurried to prepare for the coming trial of strength with Germany.

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