1 Sep 2009

WWII commemorations held in Poland

8:36 pm on 1 September 2009

A day of commemorations has begun in Poland to mark the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

The first ceremony took place at dawn on Westerplatte peninsula near Gdansk, where a German battleship fired the first shots on a Polish fort in 1939, the BBC reports.

Poland's president and prime minister led a sombre ceremony at the fort.

Foreign leaders from 20 countries including Germany and Russia are expected in Gdansk later in the day as ceremonies continue.

At 4.45am local time Polish President Lech Kaczynski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk joined war veterans beside a monument to the heroes of Westerplatte.

The ceremony marked the exact time on 1 September 1939 when the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire at point-blank range on the fort.

At the same time, the German Wehrmacht invaded Poland over three frontiers. The attacks triggered Britain and France's declaration of war against Germany two days later.

Train journey recreates evacuation

A steam train is making its way across several European countries to commemorate the evacuation of hundreds of Jewish children to London in the run-up to WWII.

The train will follow the route of the original journey, leaving from the Czech capital Prague and making its way through parts of Germany and the Netherlands.

Surviving family members on board are expected to meet British Jewish stockbroker Nicholas Winton, who organised the original evacuation when they arrive in London.