Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, commemorated the 83rd anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two in Wielun, a town in central Poland levelled by German bombers in the first hours of the war on September 1, 1939.
The ceremony started at 4.40 a.m., the time when German aircraft began bombing the town despite it having no military significance.
The prime minister said at the ceremony that Wielun was a victim of a German policy of intimidation and destruction. He quoted Adolf Hitler, who told the generals of the Wehrmacht, the armed forces of Nazi Germany, to have no mercy in their hearts and to carry out annihilation.
Morawiecki said that under Hitler’s plan, Poles were to be murdered and Poland was to be destroyed almost completely. He added that this plan “was implemented with brutal consistency in numerous criminal acts from the first hours of the war, including in Wielun and the surrounding villages, where the inhabitants were burned alive.”
“When we remember those days, we must be aware that the whole German criminal machine took part in the annihilation of Poland,” he said.
Before the war, Wielun had around 16,000 residents and was located only 21 kilometres from the German border. On the morning of September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany dropped 380 bombs on the town, killing between 1,200 and 2,000 residents.