1.) On September 1, 1939 . . . Nazi German troops invaded Poland marking the beginning of World War II. Poland was the first country to resist Nazi expansion in Europe.
2.) On September 17, 1939 . . . Soviet Russian troops attacked Poland on its east border. This was a shock to the Polish Nation, since Poles never expected the Russians to unite with Nazi forces in violation of their non-aggression pact.
3.) Throughout the invasion of Poland, the people fought courageously against the Nazi Germans and the Russian army, but their armed forces were not equipped to withstand the combined might of their invaders.
4.) On September 28, 1939 . . . Warsaw fell to Nazi German forces after long and hard fought battles. This marked the beginning of the Polish underground resistance which was active throughout the war.
5.) During the invasion of Poland, 200,000 men were killed or wounded in battle. More than 600,000 Polish soldiers became prisoners of war held by Russian and German troops.
6.) Intending to reduce Poland to a nation of slaves, Hitler planned to eradicate any existence of Polish heritage and culture. After the occupation of Poland, Nazi German soldiers slaughtered thousands of Poland’s intellectuals and clergy, trying to void the country of its leaders.
7.) Following the opening months of World War II, Poland’s western territories were annexed to Nazi Germany and the eastern territories annexed to Soviet Russia.
8.) Soviet authorities deported 1.7 million Poles to Russian labor camps where over one million people died from starvation and overwork.
9.) Several thousand Polish soldiers escaped and formed fighting units to continue the struggle for Poland’s independence and participated extensively in France, the Battle of Britain, Monte Cassino and Normandy.
10.) The Nazis constructed their concentration camps in occupied Poland to conceal from the world the atrocities they were committing.
11.) In the Spring of 1940, Soviet authorities murdered 15,000 Polish officers and intellectuals, 4,000 found in Russia’s Katyn Forest and the gravesites of others still unknown.
12.) Poland was home for the majority of Europe’s Jews for over 800 years. Hitler’s plan was to exterminate the Jews as well as all the Polish people.
13.) During World War II six million Polish citizens were slaughtered; 3 million Polish Christians and 3 million Polish Jews.
14.) Poland suffered the greatest loss of life of all occupied countries during World War II.
15.) General Wladyslaw Sikorski headed the Polish government-in- exile from headquarters in France, allowing Poland to remain recognized as a nation during the Nazi occupation.
16.) Throughout the war, extensive underground activities by the Polish people, including the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, hindered Nazi efforts to exterminate the Polish nation and its culture, while also helping to save hundreds of thousands of Poland’s Jews.