Prior to the German invasion of Poland in 1939, Germany broke the Treaty of Versailles by initiating rearmament and the re-militarization of the Rhineland. Germany furthered the initial steps of their war campaign with the annexation of Austria (Anschluss) in March of 1938. Two months after acquiring Austria, Germany desired a further expansion of its empire. In order to quench Germany's thirst, Britain and France ceded the Czech border land known as the Sudetenland to the Third Reich during the Munich Conference in September of 1938. But the Sudetenland did not satisfy Germany and it pushed onward into more of Czechoslovakia, breaching the Munich Conference agreement. In response to the German offensive, Britain and France reached out to Poland and guaranteed allegiance to the Polish state if a German invasion occurred. The Germans interpreted the Anglo-Franco commitment to Poland as a preemptive move towards an English invasion of Germany. The Nazis used this perspective as a propaganda tool, claiming that Poland and England were conspiring against the German people, and would eventually invade Germany while it was still rearming as a result of the Versailles Treaty reparations. The Nazis’ propaganda to the German people thus framed the German invasion of Poland as a strike against those countries that would eventually do the same, if given the chance.
"Because we were forced into it [fighting] by England and its Polish friends. If the enemy had not begun the fight now, they would have within two or three years. England and France began the war in 1939 because they feared that in two or three years Germany would be militarily stronger and harder to defeat."
After signing a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union and consequently guaranteeing that the Soviets would not interfere with an invasion of Poland, the Germany army advanced onto Polish land. Officially on September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. The Polish army was defeated within weeks of the invasion.
German troops parade through Warsaw after the surrender of Poland.
Alyson St. Pierre