Leaders from around Europe have marked the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II in a ceremony near the site where the first salvoes where fired. It was from the port of Gdansk that a German battleship fired on a nearby Polish military depot, plunging the continent into a six year conflict that would change its destiny.
The fallout continues even today with debate over the causes and who should share in the blame. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin acknowledged his countries responsibility over doing a pre-war deal with Germany but said western nations apppeasement of the Nazis was also a factor. “We have to recognise our errors. Our parliament has done that over the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. But we should expect the same condemnation form nations who made their own deals with the Nazis,” he said. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of the crimes committed by Nazi Germany on Poland and the rest of Europe. “Here at Westerplatte I, as German Chancellor, pay hommage to all the Poles on whom we have imposed attrocious suffering under the crimes of the German occupation,” she said. Poland was the first casualty of war and continued to pay a heavy price throughout the fighting.