Photographs show moment tanks entered Gdansk as Hitler invaded Poland and ...

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() Breathtaking images showing Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939, which sparked off the Second World War, have been released  to mark the 80th anniversary of the start of the conflict. 

The invasion began on September 1, 1939, when Adolf Hitler's troops broke through Polish border crossings and launched naval, air and army attacks on the Westerplatte peninsula in the Bay of Danzig. 

The images show ruined Polish cities with smoke and flames rising from destroyed buildings, while Hitler is seen both before and after Warsaw's surrender on September 27 triumphantly standing before parading German troops.  

Also among the images are captured Polish citizens with their arms raised in surrender, their faces betraying little of the fear they must have felt.   

Hitler had been set to invade the country in August but wavered when Britain signed the Polish-British Common Defence Pact, which committed it to defend Poland and guarantee its independence in the face of German aggression.   

Despite this, Hitler went ahead with the invasion and Britain responded with an ultimatum for the Germans to cease military operations, but this was ignored. 

As a result, Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 3rd triggering a six-year conflict which tore Europe apart and left 70 million people dead.  

Beginning on September 1, 1939, the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany saw Adolf Hitler's troops attack the country from the north, south, and west. Hitler had been originally set to invade the country in August but wavered when Britain signed the Polish-British Common Defence Pact, which committed it to defend Poland and guarantee its independence in the face of German aggression. Above: Adolf Hitler observes German troops crossing the Vistula River, near Chelmno, Northern Poland

Beginning on September 1, 1939, the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany saw Adolf Hitler's troops attack the country from the north, south, and west. Hitler had been originally set to invade the country in August but wavered when Britain signed the Polish-British Common Defence Pact, which committed it to defend Poland and guarantee its independence in the face of German aggression. Above: Adolf Hitler observes German troops crossing the Vistula River, near Chelmno, Northern Poland 

The attack on Poland actually began when, in the early hours of September 1, the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on the Polish military transit depot at Westerplatte, in what was then the Free City of Danzig and is now Gdansk. Above: Workshops at the port on fire after their attack by Nazi Germany

The attack on Poland actually began when, in the early hours of September 1, the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on the Polish military transit depot at Westerplatte, in what was then the Free City of Danzig and is now Gdansk. Above: Workshops at the port on fire after their attack by Nazi Germany

The Polish army's defiant defence of Westerplatte, which saw them hold out for seven days, is still seen as a heroic symbol of resistance in the country. During the attack, Poles withstood numerous assaults, shelling from German warships and dive-bomber attacks from the skies

The Polish army's defiant defence of Westerplatte, which saw them hold out for seven days, is still seen as a heroic symbol of resistance in the country. During the attack, Poles withstood numerous assaults, shelling from German warships and dive-bomber attacks from the skies

As well as naval attacks, Nazi Germany bombarded Poland on land and from the air. The German air force - the Luftwafffe - launched bombing raids on Polish cities, including the capital, Warsaw.  The first assault on September 1 - operation Wasserkante - did not do as much damage as expected, because of low-lying clouds and fierce resistance from Polish fighter planes. Above: Burning grain stores in Warsaw after their attack by Nazi bomber planes

As well as naval attacks, Nazi Germany bombarded Poland on land and from the air. The German air force - the Luftwafffe - launched bombing raids on Polish cities, including the capital, Warsaw.  The first assault on September 1 - operation Wasserkante - did not do as much damage as expected, because of low-lying clouds and fierce resistance from Polish fighter planes. Above: Burning grain stores in Warsaw after their attack by Nazi bomber planes

Despite the valiant resistance effort from the Polish air force, heavy losses on their side meant that within days of the start of the German attack the Polish defence became largely limited to the use of anti-aircraft guns. Above: Smoke rises from the Warsaw Citadel in the heart of the city after bombing by German planes

Despite the valiant resistance effort from the Polish air force, heavy losses on their side meant that within days of the start of the German attack the Polish defence became largely limited to the use of anti-aircraft guns. Above: Smoke rises from the Warsaw Citadel in the heart of the city after bombing by German planes

Throughout September, Warsaw remained under siege, with the largest and most devastating air attacks coming on September 25 and 26. Hundreds of tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs were dropped on Warsaw. These were accompanied by heavy shelling from artillery. Three key forts in the city were captured, around 25,000 civilians were killed and large parts of the city were reduced to rubble. Above: The bombed Warsaw West railway station

Throughout September, Warsaw remained under siege, with the largest and most devastating air attacks coming on September 25 and 26. Hundreds of tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs were dropped on Warsaw. These were accompanied by heavy shelling from artillery. Three key forts in the city were captured, around 25,000 civilians were killed and large parts of the city were reduced to rubble. Above: The bombed Warsaw West railway station

Historic buildings in Warsaw were destroyed by the bombs dropped by Nazy warplanes, including the Royal Castle (pictured), which dated from 1598

Historic buildings in Warsaw were destroyed by the bombs dropped by Nazy warplanes, including the Royal Castle (pictured), which dated from 1598

The devastating attacks on Warsaw led to the surrender of the Polish garrison on September 27 - they had endured 18 days of continuous bombing and finally surrendered at 2pm that afternoon. Above: The ruins of the Lubomirski Palace in central Warswaw

The devastating attacks on Warsaw led to the surrender of the Polish garrison on September 27 - they had endured 18 days of continuous bombing and finally surrendered at 2pm that afternoon. Above: The ruins of the Lubomirski Palace in central Warswaw

German troops flooded into Warsaw during and after the city's capitulation - just days before the Polish government surrendered to Nazi Germany. Above: German troops with 75mm Le IG 18 light tank and infantry support guns as they attack a street in Warsaw on September 27

German troops flooded into Warsaw during and after the city's capitulation - just days before the Polish government surrendered to Nazi Germany. Above: German troops with 75mm Le IG 18 light tank and infantry support guns as they attack a street in Warsaw on September 27

Above: A Polish colonel (left) stands over a map next to German general Gunther von Kluge during negotiations after the capitulation of Warsaw to Nazi troops. Von Kluge commanded the German 4th Army of the Wehrmacht during the invasion

Above: A Polish colonel (left) stands over a map next to German general Gunther von Kluge during negotiations after the capitulation of Warsaw to Nazi troops. Von Kluge commanded the German 4th Army of the Wehrmacht during the invasion

Despite Britain and France's declaration of war on Germany on September 3, they did not provide any military assistance to the country because they had been entirely unprepared for the rapidity of the Nazis' invasion. Above: A German propaganda photograph shows German soldiers dressed as Gdansk Police officers pretending to break the barrier at the border crossing between Poland the Free City of Gdansk

Despite Britain and France's declaration of war on Germany on September 3, they did not provide any military assistance to the country because they had been entirely unprepared for the rapidity of the Nazis' invasion. Above: A German propaganda photograph shows German soldiers dressed as Gdansk Police officers pretending to break the barrier at the border crossing between Poland the Free City of Gdansk

Polish forces earlier defence of Westerplatte has gone down in Polish history as a symbol of resistance. The attack on the port was accompanied by rapid attacks from the air and on land elsewhere in the country. Above: Germn troops search the military transit depot in Westerplatte after its capitulation

Polish forces earlier defence of Westerplatte has gone down in Polish history as a symbol of resistance. The attack on the port was accompanied by rapid attacks from the air and on land elsewhere in the country. Above: Germn troops search the military transit depot in Westerplatte after its capitulation

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