Veterans and political leaders from across Europe and the
United States gathered in northern Poland Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary
of the outbreak of World War Two.
Pre-dawn ceremonies began with Polish leaders and other dignitaries gathered in
the Baltic port of Gdansk. Their ceremony marked the precise time the German
battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened the war by shelling a tiny Polish
military outpost outside the city.
Polish President Lech Kaczynski called the Westerplatte outpost, whose
defenders held out for seven days, "a symbol of the heroic fight" and
"proof of patriotism and an unbreakable spirit." But he also
remembered the September 17 Soviet invasion of Poland from the east as a
"stab in the back."
Speaking at the ceremonies, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the war
unleashed by her country opened up the most tragic chapter of European history.
It brought immeasurable suffering, years of deprivation of rights, humiliation
and destruction to many peoples.