On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, starting World War II. The celebrations at Westerplatte were attended, among others, by President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda and Minister of National Defense Mariusz Błaszczak. “Freedom is not given once and for all. And it will not hold on its own. No one will give it to us as a gift! On the contrary – history shows that it will rather want to take it away from us. That is why we must show that we are ready and we must always be ready and responsibility” – the highest commander of Polish armed forces said.
“The next generation of young Poles bows their heads today over the memory of those who fell, over the memory of extraordinary heroism and devotion to the Homeland. This is the greatest dignity of Westerplatte and Westerplatte people. This is the greatest dignity of the defenders of the coast and soldiers who, without sparing strength and blood, defended the Republic of Poland “- Andrzej Duda said.
According to tradition, the morning celebrations began with the sound of sirens just before 4.45 am, because at that time on September 1, 1939, the German attack on the Polish Military Transit Depot, located on the Gdańsk peninsula, took place.
The president pointed out that the German army entered World War II as a huge power. “But we in Poland also had such opportunities – and unfortunately they were not used. Too late – it was probably the biggest mistake. Because if we had a fleet of bombers, if we had armored forces, probably Nazi Germany would not have dared to attack us, having the prospect of possible bombing of Berlin and other German cities, facing the prospect of a massive, hard-hitting defense” – he said.
The president emphasized that today we must not be late in defending our country, seeing what is happening in Ukraine. “How eloquently we see it from February 24, 2022 – a black date for our neighbors from Ukraine, a black date for the Russian full-scale attack on this independent country, another Russian attempt in the 21st century to change the borders in Europe by force. Do you think it’s the last one? Let’s not be naive and thankfully we’re not” – he said.
“This is why we have to sacrifice so many of our other needs and strengthen our army, our security, carry out this process in advance, so that the Pole is wise before the damage, before some madman gets the idea that we need to seize our land again, that we can be attacked because we are weak and we won’t be able to do it” – Andrzej Duda said.
The president emphasized that we must build our security – not on words but on deeds. “This is what we owe to the defenders of Westerplatte. This is what must be systematically, calmly and consistently implemented over the next few years” – he stressed.
“Freedom is not given once and for all. And it will not hold on its own. No one will give it to us as a gift! On the contrary – history shows that it will rather want to take it away from us. That is why we must show that we are ready and we must always be ready and responsibility” – Andrzej Duda said.
“And this is our most important patriotic duty today towards the Homeland and towards those who will constitute it in the future. This is our obligation towards all those who in the past fought for it and died for it” – the President emphasized.
“84 years ago, Germany invaded Poland. This is how World War II broke out. This attack was preceded by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, i.e. an agreement signed by the foreign ministers of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. As a consequence, there was another, fourth partition of Poland Today, as every year, we commemorate all those who gave their lives for free Poland” – the Minister of National Defense Mariusz Błaszczak said.
During the ceremony, the national anthem was played, the relay race lit the Torch of Peace. Then the Remembrance Appeal was read and 12 cannon salvos were fired. Later, the scouts read the “Message of Westerplatte”. A common prayer was also said. The celebrations at Westerplatte ended with the laying of a wreath from the Nation in front of the Monument to the Defenders of the Coast.
On November 4, 2022, at the new Cemetery of Soldiers of the Polish Army – next to the commander, Major Henryk Sucharski – the remains of Westerplatte soldiers found during archaeological works carried out on the peninsula were laid to rest. The funeral ceremony was attended by the President of the Republic of Poland.
The attack of the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein on the Military Transit Depot at Westerplatte on September 1, 1939 at 4.45 was one of the first events that started World War II. Until September 7, 1939, Polish troops heroically defended the outpost against enemy attacks.