The start of World War II can be traced back to the fateful September morning in 1939, when German troops suddenly and violently invaded Poland.
Germany's motive for invading its smaller neighbour stems from the outcome of the First World War. Following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in the aftermath of that war, Poland had received several key regions that had formerly belonged to Germany, such as Poland.
In an attempt to win back that land and find a pretext for annexing Poland, Adolf Hitler enacted a couple of key measures. The first was to sign a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, the underlying purpose of which was to prevent them from siding with Poland in the outbreak of war.
Hitler also ordered his Nazi troops to stage a pretend invasion of Germany under the guise of Polish forces, causing minimal damage to German defences on the eve of the invasion. Pointing to this supposed attempt to attack Germany, Hitler set the wheels in motion for the assault on Poland, declaring that it was a defensive move.
At 4.45 am on September 1 1939, Germany commenced its assault on Poland through the infamous blitzkrieg technique with the help of the Soviet Union. This involved sending in forces from all angles – from Germany itself, along with troops assembled in Czechoslovakia and Prussia – with the tanks on the land complemented by bomber planes and battleships.
The Polish, taken by surprise, simply did not have the power to fight back, and it was only a matter of weeks before they surrendered.
Within days, Britain and France declared war on Germany, and so began the Second World War.
To learn more about the people who fought bravely in the largest war in history, tune in to Heroes of War, only on the History Channel.