Polish Army to take over organisation of WWII outbreak observances - MoD

From this year on annual commemorations of the outbreak of WWII will be held by the Polish Army and not, as until now, by the authorities of the northern city of Gdansk, Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Tuesday.

In his opinion this "will ensure the dignity of the ceremony."

The ceremonies will be held on September 1 at the Westerplatte Peninsula in Gdansk, the site of the first clash between German and Polish forces during World War II.

Blaszczak said that "Westerplatte is a special place", which, according to him, was neglected for years and used in the past by politicians of "total opposition" for political speeches.

According to the decence minister, "controversial people" were invited to the previous commemorations at Westerplatte by Gdansk authorities. He pointed to the Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, who at last year's events "did not even mention that the Germans were the aggressor in 1939.

"From 2020, the Polish Army will organise events to commemorate the brave acts of heroism by soldiers of the Polish Army, which they demonstrated in an exceptional way in September 1939," the defence minister told a press conference in the northern city of Gdynia. In his opinion, "the (Polish) soldiers are the heirs of the Westerplatte defenders" and guarantee that the Westerplatte observances will have a dignified character.

Blaszczak declared that invitations to the observances will be extended to war veterans and scouts, as well as, to local authorities.

The site of the commemorative events has also been taken over by the State Treasury from Gdansk authorities and a Westerplatte Museum will be built there in the future, Pomerania province governor Dariusz Drelich said at the Tuesday press conference.

A small Polish garrison stationed on Westerplatte fought off fierce German attacks from land, sea and the air until September 7. World War II began in Poland on September 1, 1939, with Nazi Germany's attack on a Polish military depot on Westerplatte and a simultaneous attack on the small Polish town of Wielun.