Germany Invades Poland, WWII Begins--September 1, 1939


By Alexander Haimann, Collections Specialist

Poland Fights On cover

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin’s September 30, 1938 declaration of “Peace For Our Time” after signing the Munich Agreement with Nazi Germany was muted seventy-years ago today when the German military invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.

The day before, high ranking members of the Nazi government orchestrated a staged attack on a German radio station in Gleiwitz, Germany (now located in present-day Poland). The attackers were members of the German secret police dressed as Polish saboteurs. Due to Germany’s large-scale attack on Poland the following day, it was clear that the invasion was premeditated and had been in the planning stages for months.

Five weeks after the invasion, Poland was completely occupied and would remain occupied by German forces for another five and a half years. Over five million Poles were killed during the war, including three million Polish Jews.

Many World War II patriotic covers like the one featured here are quite dramatic in their use of imagery to convey their message. This cover focuses on the eagle of Poland trying to fend off the German snake wrapped around a Swastika.

Alex Haimann

About the Author
Alexander T. Haimann, Collections Specialist & Web Projects Developer at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, collects and writes primarily about the stamps and postal history of the U.S. during the first one hundred years of stamp production (1847-1947). Additionally, he develops internet based education projects and exhibits for the National Postal Museum. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Stamp Dealers Association, the Chair of the American Philatelic Society’s Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship and the publicist for the United State Philatelic Classics Society. His national and international society memberships include the American Philatelic Society, United States Stamp Society, Collectors Club of New York and the Royal Philatelic Society London.