Westerplatte where Nazi ships first attacked Poland marks WWII anniversary

German President asked Poland for forgiveness at WWII 80th anniversary
TVN24 News in EnglishThe Monument of the Coast Defenders at the Westerplatte Peninsula in Gdańsk

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and European Commission deputy chief Frans Timmermans on Sunday (September 1) joined residents of the coastal city of Gdańsk at a ceremony marking 80 years since the start of World War Two.

The ceremony began at 4.40 a.m. at Westerplatte, the site of one of the first battles of World War Two with air raid sirens sounded to mark the start of the seven-day siege of Westerplatte in September 1939, when dozens of Polish soldiers defied the overwhelming firepower of a Nazi German naval fleet.

Morawiecki spoke of the huge material, spiritual, economic and financial losses Poland suffered in the war.

"We need to talk about those losses, we need to remember, we need to demand truth and demand compensation."

For Poland's Law and Justice (PiS) party, the memory of the war is a central plank of its "historical politics", aiming to counteract what it calls the West's lack of appreciation for the extent of the nation's suffering and bravery under Nazi German occupation.

PiS politicians have also repeatedly called for war reparations from Germany, one of Poland's biggest trade partners and a fellow member of the European Union and NATO. Berlin says all financial claims linked to World War Two have been settled.

Critics say the party's ambition is to fan nationalism among voters at a time when populists around the world are tapping into historical revisionism. PiS says the country's standing on the global stage and national security are at stake.

Few places saw death and destruction on the scale of Poland. It lost about a fifth of its population, including the vast majority of its 3 million Jewish citizens.

Parallel events, attended by Polish President Andrzej Duda and his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier were held in Wieluń, site of one of the first bombings of the war on September 1, 1939.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who came after President Donald Trump abruptly cancelled a planned trip due to a hurricane, also participated in events later that day in Warsaw.

Autor: gf / Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters

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