World war two – it all started here in Gdańsk, Poland. With the participation of President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz the commemorations of the 76th anniversary of the outbreak began at dawn at Westerplatte.

demolished Westerplatte barracks

demolished Westerplatte barracks

The morning ceremony at Westerplatte traditionally began shortly before 4.45am, at which time on 1 September 1939 the Polish Military Transit Depot positioned at the Gdańsk peninsula was attacked by Germans. The ceremony was hosted by the mayor of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz.

The first speaker, Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, pointed out in her speech that during World War II Poland “lost 6 million citizens, and every city, town and village was drained with blood of the families. The Second World War ended and left a stigma on the life of every Polish family, which we remember to this day.”

It must resound loudly that Poles were not a nation of perpetrators, but as the first ones fell victim. Westerplatte is a symbol of duty, patriotism and courage to stand up for the values ​​that are most important – Kopacz said.

In her opinion, today Poland is in a very stable situation.

Then we were alone. Today we are not, because Poland is a reliable partner. On behalf of the government I salute the heroes and pay homage to their sacrifice. Let us remember it, because there is no other way which would lead to a safe and modern Europe.

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The President Andrzej Duda pointed out that “every year we meet on this symbolic day of September 1st here at Westerplatte, to honour the memory of Polish heroes, to remember the most terrible cataclysm of the 20th century, which was the Second World War, unleashed by Nazi Germany.”

We can stand tall before our allies then and today, because Poland has always stood on the right side, Poland has always stood on the side of the free world – stressed the President Andrzej Duda. – With us there was no collaborationist government, here were the soldiers who fought on all fronts of World War II, fought for the freedom of the Republic, but also fought for our and your freedom, freeing other nations – he added.

Andrzej Duda recalled that the first bombs fell on Wieluń at 4.40am, but the first salvos, the first shots fell five minutes later at Westerplatte from the “Schleswig-Holstein” battleship.

This place is and will remain forever a symbol of heroism of the Polish soldier – the president said.

The attack of the German battleship “Schleswig-Holstein” on the Polish military depot at Westerplatte was one of the first events starting World War II. Polish troops under the command of Major Henryk Sucharski heroically defended the post against enemy attacks from the sea, land and air until September 7th 1939.

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