Hitler’s Assault on Poland – How World War TwoStarted

On September 1 1939, German battleship Schleswig-Holstein bombarded the Polish fort of Westerplatte in a conflict that came to be known as the battle of Westerplatte. This battle is considered to be the outbreak and beginning of World War Two.  But in reality, while the Second World War began in Poland, the battle of Westerplatte was not the war’s outbreak.

Before the battle of Westerplatte, the Germans have already attacked a Polish town known as Wieluń. When the Wehrmacht targeted and attacked Wieluń, no one expected it and it came as a surprise to residents because the town was just an ordinary Polish town that has no military or strategic importance to the country. It took the Germans only a few minutes to completely destroy and wipe out the unprepared and defenceless town.

Prior to the bombing of Westerplatte by the German training ship “Schleswig-Holstein,” that is considered by a majority as the official start of World War Two, a German Luftwaffe bomber squadron had departed Wieluń in ruins.

While it has been 75 years since Wieluń was attacked and was actually the outbreak of World War Two, very little is known about this battle and the attack this people were faced with. As a result, this two part documentary is met to shed more light on the attack that took place in this little provincial Polish town.

As part of the film, both Polish soldiers as well as civilians talked about the bombardment, their escape and eviction from their home and town. The German soldiers that fought in the war also described the experiences they had at the early stages of the battles.

As a young Polish man that started school in Wieluń in 1939, Janu Tyszler said his school was completely destroyed to the extent there was no stone left to show it ever existed as the Germans bombed and wiped out the entire town.

And even though Heinz Maronde was already a German soldier in 1939 when the Polish town of Wieluń was destroyed, he was unaware the attack was the beginning of World War Two.

Before attacking Poland, the Nazi’s carried out a number of propaganda to create the impression of a Polish violence against Germany as justification to attack the country. The most popular one was the “Gleiwitz incident,” in which the Nazis pretended they were Poles on the German radio station “Sender Gleiwitz” in Gliwice, which at the time was part of Germany

The Second World War documentary is a joint production between German Deutsche Welle and Polish TVP Polonia. To map and visualise Hitler’s invasion of Poland, filmmakers from Germany and Poland collaborated to make the war film, the DW News reports.

The World War Two documentary film is already out and has been broadcast in several countries around the world. Some of the cities it has been broadcast are New York, Sao Paulo, Vancouver, London, Berlin, Moscow, Cape Town, Delhi, Hong Kong, San Francisco and Edmonton.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE