“We were victims from the very first moment of the war. A decent person cannot agree to meanly accuse Poles of any involvement in the crimes of WWII,” President Andrzej Duda said during the commemoration of the 82nd anniversary of the outbreak of WWII held in Wieluń, southern Poland.
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“A tiny fraction of the 6 million Polish victims of the war were those who actually fought with weapons. The rest were civilians - people who were mostly murdered in a bestial way, bombed, tortured and killed,” the President stressed.
He pointed out that the attack on Wieluń “determined our situation in WWII,” and added that it was this city where Poles “became the first victims of the war.”
Andrzej Duda reiterated that the city’s hospital with a big sign of the red cross on it was bombed initially.
“It was an act of terror, it was not an ordinary war. It was from the very beginning a breach of all the rules of war that apply then and to this day,” the President stressed.
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Executioners confused with victims
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki took part in the morning anniversary celebrations held at Westerplatte - a peninsula in modern Gdańsk, northern Poland.
“The executioners are confused with the victims. Different roles are being assigned to those who defended humanity against those who brutally destroyed entire states. This war was started by the German invaders,” the head of government stressed.
As he pointed out, “from year to year there are fewer people who remember those days, that September. Year by year there are fewer and fewer eyewitnesses to the war that began earlier with the pact between Hitler and Stalin on August 23, 1939... the war , which was the greatest hecatomb of the 20th century, one of the bloodiest conflicts in the history of mankind,” Mateusz Morawiecki emphasised.
On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany dropped 380 bombs on the town of Wieluń, southern Poland. The Luftwaffe bombings, which started at 4:40 am - five minutes before the shelling of Westerplatte - killed close to 1,200 local residents.
According to historians, when the Germans attacked, no Polish military troops were deployed in or around the city which also lacked anti-aircraft defences. Thus, Poland considers the bombing an act of terrorism, as it targeted the civilian population.
The Westerplatte Peninsula in Gdańsk was the site of the first clash between German and Polish forces. The German warship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on the Polish forces. A small garrison of the Polish Army stationed there fought off fierce German attacks from land, sea and air until September 7.