In the early hours of September the 1st, 1939, a German cruiser began shelling Westerplatte, a finger of land just outside Gdansk.
GV (MONO & MUTE) German aircraft flying over Poland
GV German military vehicles crossing bridge. (3 SHOTS)
GV German troops marching along road. (2 SHOTS)
GV German aircraft in formation SV bomber. (2 SHOTS)
SVs Bomb aimer in aircraft. (Z3 SHOTS)
GV German bomber dropping bombs on town. (2 SHOTS)
GV German ship bombarding Gdansk. (3 SHOTS)
(SOUND & COLOUR)
GV Gdansk harbour.
GV Westerplatte monument ZOOM IN TO CU inscription. (2 SHOTS)
GV Religious ceremony at concrete cross erected by Solidarity.
SV bishop Kaumarek blessing the monument
SV TRACKING SHOT Crowd ending on Walesa.
CU PAN ALONG War veterans. (2 SHOTS)
GV Bishop Kaumarek leaving ceremony PAN DOWN TO wreath on ground.
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Background: In the early hours of September the 1st, 1939, a German cruiser began shelling Westerplatte, a finger of land just outside Gdansk. It was to prove the beginning of World War Two. On Tuesday (1 September), the 42nd anniversary of the Nazi attack was remembered, along with the first anniversary of the birth of 'Solidarity', Poland's free trade union. Many of those who attended the remembrance services were too young to know first hand the details of the German occupation, but those who survived the war will never forget scenes like these.
SYNOPSIS: After the initial attack, the Germans quickly brought Poland to its knees, despite spirited resistance. The might of the Third Reich's massive war machine was unleashed.
Poland was overwhelmed. The Germans advanced from the west and their then allies the Russians, moved in from the east. In the fighting that followed, and during the occupation, an estimated six million Polish citizens perished. Thousands more were forced into labour camps.
Although Poland was subjected to heavy bombardment from air, land and sea, the army fought on to try to halt the advance, but was finally forced to surrender. It was to be six years before Poland emerged from Nazi occupation.
This is Gdansk harbour, 42 years later. In 1979, the Polish government unveiled a monument at Westerplatte, and more recently the trade union 'Solidarity' erected a memorial cross, at which Bishop Kaumarek of Gdansk celebrated a holy mass during this year's remembrance.
Amongst those at the mass was the leader of the independent trade union, Lech Walesa and veterans of a nearby battle in which 200 Polish soldiers fighting against the Germans, killed about 400 of the enemy. The end of the German occupation brought socialism to Poland, and left the country surrounded with allies of the soviet-led Warsaw Pact. Despite the savage history of the war, Poland has never used the anniversary to criticise West Germany.