On this day in 1939, German forces bombard Poland on land and from the air, as Adolf Hitler’s blitzkrieg rolls North and East, seeking to regain lost territory and ultimately rule the Continent. World War 2 had begun.
Blossoming into greatest conflagration in world history, the invasion marked the beginning of a global war that lasted from 1939 to1945, although conflicts reflecting the ideological clash between what would become the Allied and Axis blocs began earlier. The leading protagonists in the West were Germany, Italy and initially, the USSR; in the East, Japan had been engaged in ruthless regional conquest since 1922.
The vast majority of the world’s countries, including all of the great powers, were drawn into the crucible. As the most global war in history, it directly involved greater than 100 million people from over 30 countries, casting a political, economic and societal shadow that extends to this day.
In a state of total war, the major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the carnage, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War 2 was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It featured epic inhumanity, including massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease and the only use of nuclear weapons against people.
Due to vigilant and careful post-war architectures constructed by the victors, supported by the vanquished, and nurtured and understood by the thoughtful in and out of governments, a comparative state of peace, punctuated by unacceptable and deadly regional wars, has existed since September of 1945.
Given the current vacuum peculiarizing our highest offices, in which historical and political ignorance thrive whilst logic and decency purposefully degrade, the state of relative peace and stability so jealously guarded for the past seven decades could vanish in an instant, and with it all of humanity.
With that, Happy Labor Day, and here the lesson endeth.