Hundreds of people gathered on Sunday at the largest square in the Polish capital, Warsaw, to mark the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II, the most catastrophic and bloodies conflict in recent history.
Around 40 foreign delegations made their way to Pilsudski Square while the sky was abuzz with police helicopters along with the closing off of Warsaw’s central streets. The French and Belgium Prime Ministers arrived early along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Among the other recipients were Presidents of Croatia, Hungary, Germany, Ukraine, Slovakia, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic as they marched onto the stage one by one. Also among the attendees was US Vice President Mike Pence who arrived last but was the only one to be greeted with booming applause from the crowd.
US President Donald Trump was supposed to come for the ceremony but stepped down from the invitation after a last-minute decision to stay home to monitor Hurricane Dorian, thus Vice-President Mike Pence stepped in.
“Nobody fought with more courage and determination than Poles during the brutal war and for 40 years of communist rule. If anyone doubts the destiny of humanity, which is freedom, let them look at Poland,” he said.
Speaking in Warsaw and earlier in Wielun, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier promised to never forget the atrocities of the Nazi regime, asking for forgiveness.
“In no other square in Europe do I find it more difficult to speak, and to address you in my native language of German … I ask for forgiveness for Germany’s historical guilt and I recognize our enduring responsibility,” he said.