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What happened in 1939?

Page Created
April 3rd, 2022
Last Updated
May 10th, 2023
World War 2

The year 1939 is generally considered the year that World War 2 definitely started. In september Germany with the help of Soviet Union and the Slovak Republic invade Poland. Within days Great Britain, France, India, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada declare war on Germany. The United States, like Spain, Ireland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland decide to declare their neutrality. Within weeks the Germans occupied the Western parts of Poland, while the Soviet Union took hold of the Eastern part.

At the same time, the German Kriegsmarine heads out to sea and starts targeting British ships. The German U boats and Battleships are remarkably successful in the following months, sinking several large ships, like the passenger Ocean liner S.S. Athenia, the British aircraft carrier, H.M.S. Courageous and the armed merchantman H.M.S. Rawalpindi. The first British succes in the sea war is during the battle of the River Plate where British warships trap the German pocket battleship Graf Spee in the harbour of Montevideo, after which the ship is scuttled by its crew.

Gemany invading Poland
German troops pull down a red-and-white turnpike at the German-Polish border during the German invasion to Poland on the 1st of September in 1939.

The Graf Spee in flames off Montevideo, Uruguay, December 17, 1939. When the ship was trapped in the River Plate by three British warships, its captain blew it up, and the ship sank.
The Graf Spee burning off the coast of Montevideo, Uruguay, on December 17th, 1939.