Poles were ‘first to fight’ and had to do so alone: British historian

There was no political will to help Poland militarily at the beginning of World War II, according to British historian Roger Moorhouse, author of ”First To Fight”, about the start of the conflict.

September 17: A view from the ground

On this day, 79 years ago, the Soviet Union invaded Poland. The attack, conducted while Poland was already at war with Nazi Germany, came as a...

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Finding wartime literature in English on the subject of what happened in Poland in September 1939 being fairly “patchy”, Mr Moorhouse set out to provide an insightful chronicle of the month in which Poland was attacked first by the Germans and then by the Soviet Union.

The anniversary of the second attack falls on the 17 of September.

Dispelling myths

There are conflicting perspectives on the start of the war, and the international view on Poland, according to Moorhouse owes as much to ”German propaganda myths” as it does to “Soviet attempts to airbrush the facts about their invasion of Poland out of history.” In the book he determines to set a few things straight.

In the British narrative, after Britain and France declared war on Germany there then passed a period referred to as “the phoney war.”

Mr Moorhouse says however that there was nothing “phoney” about what was happening in Eastern Europe.

The War: PolandIN’s documentary on outbreak of WWII

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In his view, Britain could have done more. At the start of the war, they were able to drop leaflets on Germany. “It would not have been technologically beyond us to drop bombs to help the Polish positions” the historian states. However, there was no political will to do so, as the British were still living in the shadow of appeasement and First World War losses.

To watch the full interview, click here.