The first of September marked another sad milestone in the history of Europe – the outbreak of the Second World War and the march of fascism across the continent.
The scars are still fresh for many families as the 80thanniversary of the start of the war still sees thousands of those who were children and teenagers at the time still alive.
The memorials started in Poland, the first country invaded by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi army.
The once proud country was levelled by a devastating bombardment by land and air. In the five year occupation, a fifth of the population was lost, including 3 million Jewish men, women and children.
Following the defeat of Germany, Poland was under the yoke of Russia until 1989.
Hell rains down
The initial memorial was held in the city of Wielun, where the Nazi forces struck first in bombing that is thought to have cost 2,000 lives.
“Eighty years ago, at this very moment, all hell rained down on Wielun — fueled by German racist barbarity and the desire to annihilate,” said German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
“I bow before the Polish victims of German tyranny, and I ask for your forgiveness.”
In response to the attack on September 1, 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 3.
Eventually, every major world power was embroiled in the conflict which stretched across Europe, North Africa, and the Asia Pacific.
More than 100 million people and 30 countries were involved in World War 2, leading to at least 75 million deaths.
The war included such atrocities as the Holocaust, mass bombing raids and eventually the dropping of the first atomic bombs.
The war did not end until 1945. The result was a change in the political structure of the world, with the decline of the British Empire and emergence of independent countries, as well as the rise of the Soviet Union.
The war also spawned the United Nations, a body designed to prevent future conflicts, a strategy that has failed many countries miserably in the intervening years as tyranny, atrocities and war have continued to be waged in Africa and the Middle East and Asia.