Poland and World War II;
Poland Endures

by a U.S. Marine Reservist,
6 years before he became a Marine

March 1992, 7th grade

World War II was assured when Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. During the preceeding months, Germany had taken control of Austria and Czechoslovakia; both countries had surrendered their land in fear of Germany's massive military forces. Poland did not.

France and Britain had signed a treaty with Poland stating that, if Germany invaded Poland and Poland resisted, France and Britain would come to Poland's defense. Although this did not help Poland, the obligation of those countries made other parts of the world involved.

After refusing to surrender, Poland was invaded by Germany from the west, the north, and the south. Germany invaded from the west from the mainland, from the north through East Prussia (a part of Germany), and from the south through German-occupied Czechoslovakia.

Seventeen days afer Germany invaded Poland, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east under the pretense of liberating Poland. Actually, the Soviet Union was recapturing land which Poland and the Soviets had last fought over in 1922.

Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, had signed an agreement with Adolph Hitler, leader of Germany, to divide and share Poland. They agreed that Germany would rule the west and the Soviets would rule the east.

The Soviets controlled eastern Poland until 1941. They treated the Poles as the Germans were treating the Poles to the west, only in a less orderly fashion. The killed whomever they chose on the spot rather than send them to death camps. They starved whole communities by not allowing them to receive food. They took some people into the interior of Russia and forced them to work as slaves. They suppressed and killed organizers of any religion.

In 1941, Stalin learned that Hitler was not a man of his word. Hitler turned his forces to the east and took the rest of Poland and took some Soviet land also. Hitler's forces sent Jewish Poles to ghettos or death camps. Non-Jewish Poles were sent to forced-labor camps or killed on the spot. Some were passed over and survived.

Germany controlled Poland until mid-1944, when Russian forces moved in. At the Yalta Conference of 1945, Poland lost its eastern portion when the Allies gave it to Stalin as a "thank you" for his help.

The story of the war and one man