WWII outbreak anniversary marked by ceremony in Westerplatte

WWII outbreak anniversary marked by ceremony in Westerplatte Adam Warżawa/PAP

Polish President Andrzej Duda took part in an early morning ceremony in Westerplatte, near Gdansk, on Tuesday to mark the 81st anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two.

Speaking at the site of the German invasion on September 1, 1939, Duda said the place was a "symbol of the heroism of Polish soldiers and a warning for the whole world of the meaning of a brutal policy that leads to war, as well as a warning that such events never happen again."

The early morning ceremonies started in line with tradition with the sounding of an alarm siren at 04.45 to mark the time the German attack commenced on the Gdansk Peninsular.

In addition to the president, the occasion was attended by the speakers of the Sejm (lower house) and Senate, Elzbieta Witek and Tomasz Grodzki, Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Glinski, ministers, MPs, and local government officials, who were greeted by the host of the event, Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak.

The president pointed out that the attack of Hitler's forces occurred in two places almost simultaneously - on Westerplatte, and in the small town of Wielun, where, he said, "German airmen barbarically dropped bombs on a sleeping town, murdering people.""Today, at this time, we pay tribute to all who died," he continued. "We pay tribute simultaneously in both these places."

The attack by the Schleswig-Holstein battleship on Polish forces at Westerplatte was one of the first events of the start of the Second World War. Polish forces under Major Henryk Sucharski held out until September 7 against attacks from the air, sea and land. According to various sources, when fighting broke out, there were between 210 and 240 Poles in the Polish depot. Fifteen were killed, about 30 were injured, with an estimated 50 killed and 120 injured on the German side.