Germany invades Poland

Covered by the fearsome Luftwaffe that bombed Polish cities beyond recognition, 58 German divisions cross the border into Poland on September 1, 1939. The Polish army fought bravely to defend the country against the invasion, but were hopelessly outmatched by Germany's modern technology and overwhelming numbers. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler expected appeasement from Britain and France—after all, those nations had given Czechoslovakia away to German conquest in 1938. However, neither Britain nor France was willing to allow Hitler's new violation of Europe's borders, and Germany was presented with an ultimatum: withdraw by September 3 or face war. Hitler refused, and Britain, France, India, Australia, and New Zealand declared war against Germany on September 3. The European chapter of World War II had begun.