On Sept. 1, 1939, World War II began as Nazi Germany invaded Poland. The term Blitzkrieg becomes a household word as Hitler’s “Lightning war” was hurled against the Poles.
Hitler claimed that Germany was provoked and attacked thereby the Poles brought the invasion on themselves. According to the article German Army Attacks Poland; Cities Bombed, Port Blockaded; Danzig Is Accepted Into Reich from the New York Times dated September 1, 1939, Hitler sent the following proclamation to the German Army:
To the defense forces:
The Polish nation refused my efforts for a peaceful regulation of neighborly relations; instead it has appealed to weapons.
Germans in Poland are persecuted with a bloody terror and are driven from their homes. The series of border violations, which are unbearable to a great power, prove that the Poles no longer are willing to respect the German frontier. In order to put an end to this frantic activity no other means is left to me now than to meet force with force.
"Battle for Honor"
German defense forces will carry on the battle for the honor of the living rights of the re- awakened German people with firm determination.
I expect every German soldier, in view of the great tradition of eternal German soldiery, to do his duty until the end.
Remember always in all situations you are the representatives of National Socialist Greater Germany!
Long live our people and our Reich!
Berlin, Sept. 1, 1939.
France, Great Britain and Canada respond by declaring war on Nazi Germany on September 3, 1939 ushering the specter of war that the world thought they had exorcised with the end of World War I.
The Soviet Union would invade Poland on September 17, 1939
For Further Reading:
1939: Germany invades Poland from the BBC On This Day 1950-2005 website