70 years ago today

Seventy years ago today, Neville Chamberlain's "peace in our time" came to a tragic, bloody, agonizing end.

Jonathan Fowler of AFP reports on how Europe remembered the beginnings of World War ll, a war that began with Germany's invasion of Poland and ended six years later with an estimated 50 million dead.

Europe was on Tuesday paying solemn tribute to victims of World War II as Angela Merkel lamented the "endless suffering" caused by Germany amid ceremonies marking 70 years since the conflict began.
Veterans of the six-year conflict, which claimed an estimated 50 million lives, joined Poland's president and prime minister at a pre-dawn ceremony in the port of Gdansk -- the venue of the first battle on September 1, 1939, when a German ship fired on a small Polish naval base.

"We are here to remember who in that war was the aggressor and who was the victim, for without an honest memory, neither Europe, nor Poland, nor the world will ever live in security," Prime Minister Donald Tusk said.

The ceremony in Gdansk began at 4:45 am, the exact time when the first shots were fired, and further commemorative events will be held throughout the day in and around Westerplatte, a peninsula on the edge of Gdansk.

Prior to Germany's invasion, in contemporary parlance, all sides were engaged, there was dialogue. And promises were made, peace treaties signed. But one side, Germany, had no intention of keeping any promises and built up its war machine, the other side that maintained the terms of the treaties, disarmed.

Sound familiar?

See also Europe's Sorry Lesson

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