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The Latest: Russia tweets reminder of Soviet role in WWII

Posted at 3:34 PM, Sep 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-01 16:34:53-04

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The Latest on the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II (all times local):

7:00 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wasn't invited to attend ceremonies for the 80th anniversary of the day World War II started in Poland.

But his Foreign Ministry tried to make sure the Soviet Union's role in ending the war got acknowledged at least.

The ministry tweeted on Sunday: "One may have varying opinions on Soviet policy during the initial period of World War II, but it is impossible to deny the fact that it was the Soviet Union that routed Nazism, liberated Europe and saved European democracy."

The appeal for historical accuracy appeared on Twitter as other world leaders attended the events in Warsaw where Putin's presence wasn't requested.

Russia's leader didn't get a request to be at the anniversary observances partly because the Soviet Union invaded Poland not long after the Germans.

Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, a day recognized as when World War II began.


3:20 p.m.

The speaker of Germany's parliament is giving his support to a push to build a memorial in Berlin to the Polish victims of Nazi Germany.

Wolfgang Schaeuble said at an event Sunday marking the 80th anniversary of the German attack on Poland that a fitting site for such a memorial would be the Askanischer Platz, in front of a ruined former railway station. Then-Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, an architect of the German-Soviet pact under which the Soviet army invaded Poland from the east two weeks after the German invasion, was received there in 1940.

News agency dpa reported that Schauble said more than 200 German lawmakers already support the idea of a memorial and he's confident the number will soon top 355, for a majority.

There are already four memorials in Berlin, inaugurated over the past 15 years, to various groups of Nazi victims: the Jews, gay victims, Sinti and Roma, and people with physical and mental disabilities.


3 p.m.

Leaders from around the world have sounded a "Remembrance and Warning" bell during emotional ceremonies honoring the fighters and victims of World War II that began 80 years ago with Nazi Germany's attack on Poland.

Attending the ceremony in downtown Warsaw on a sunny Sunday were U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and many others.

Following speeches by Pence, Steinmeier and Polish President Andrzej Duda, each attending state leader approached the memorial bell and sounded it, in a joint sign of memory and as a warning against conflicts.

Before that, Poland's artillery fired a 21-gun salute during a ceremony that was filled with bitter history and warnings for the future.

A military parade closed the ceremony.


2:25 p.m.

The president of Poland has stressed the need to remember at a Warsaw ceremony marking the start of World War II that brought dozens of world leaders to his country.

President Andrzej Duda stressed during 80th anniversary observances on Sunday that Poland suffered vast damage while trying to resist attacking Nazi German troops on Sept. 1, 1939, the day the war began.

Duda said in a speech at the ceremony: "We remember, We must remember, and this is why we are here."

He cited the 80 million deaths that made World War II the "biggest armed conflict in human history."

Duda continued: "We will remember with gratitude all those who fought and who gave their lives for the free world."

--This item has been corrected a typographical error to say 80th anniversary, not 8th.


2:05 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is paying tribute to the Polish people at a gathering in Warsaw commemorating the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

President Donald Trump had originally been scheduled to attend the event, but canceled at the last minute as Hurricane Dorian barreled toward the U.S.

Pence has said in remarks at a ceremony with fellow world leaders that, "While the hearts of every American are with our fellow citizens in the path of a massive storm, today we remember how the gathering storm of the 20th century broke into warfare and invasion followed by unspeakable hardship and heroism of the Polish people."

Pence has praised the Polish people, saying they "never lost hope" and "never gave in to despair," saying the "character, faith, and determination of the Polish people made all the difference."

He said: "Your oppressors tried to break you, but Poland could not be broken."

The visit would have been Trump's second to Poland since taking office in 2017, reflecting his cozy relationship with Poland's right-wing nationalist president.


1:50 p.m.

Poland's president has appealed to world leaders gathered for the 80th anniversary of World War II not to close their eyes today to imperial tendencies and forceful changes of borders.

Andrzej Duda did not name the country at fault, but the aggression against Georgia and Ukraine that he mentioned in his speech Sunday made it clear he meant Russia as the aggressor.

Duda said "recently in Europe we are dealing with a return of imperialist tendencies, with attempts to change borders by force, with aggression against countries, seizure of land, capturing people."

He said that "turning a blind eye is not the recipe for preserving peace. It is a simple way to, in fact, give consent to further attacks."

He mentioned Russia's 2008 aggression on Georgia and also its seizure of Crimea for Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not been invited to the anniversary observances.


1:45 p.m.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has recalled World War II as a "German crime" that his nation will never forget during commemorations in Warsaw marking the start of the conflict 80 years ago.

The observances are being led by Polish President Andrzej Duda and also attended by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. President Donald Trump was originally scheduled to attend but canceled, citing the need to be home with a hurricane approaching.

Nazi Germany attacked Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, triggering a nearly six-year war that killed more than 70 million people.

Steinmeier called it a "painful legacy" as he recalled the German attack on Warsaw and Poland. He recalled that under the Nazi plan for Poland, "its culture, its cities, its people — everything living was supposed to be destroyed."


1:05 p.m.

Poland's president has opened the main commemorations marking the German invasion of Poland 80 years ago that triggered World War II.

Andrzej Duda was joined in Warsaw on Sunday by the representatives of dozens of other countries, including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and the two top leaders of Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Polish soldiers sang the national anthem and raised the flag at Pilsudski Square, a vast space in the center of the city that was almost totally razed to the ground by the German forces during the war, which began on Sept. 1, 1939.

The ceremonies in Warsaw follow commemorations in the early hours of Sunday at the exact time of attacks on Poland, in Wielun and on the Westerplatte Peninsula in Gdansk.


12:55 p.m.

Poland's prime minister spoke of the need for redress during observances of the start of World War II as he talked about the losses that Poland suffered during almost six years of Nazi German occupation.

Mateusz Morawiecki said during ceremonies at the Westerplatte Peninsula on the Baltic coast, where the war's first battle was fought that the war "meant not only fire for the Polish homes, it meant the death of Poland's hopes, Poland's future, the end of Poland's science, Polish universities, Polish factories."

He said that "For this reason we should talk about these losses, we should .... demand redress."

Poland's nationalist government has been raising the issue of reparations from Germany ever since it took power in 2015. Germany says that matter is closed.


4:50 a.m.

The presidents of Germany and Poland have opened daylong observances of the 80th anniversary of World War II start with a ceremony in a central Polish town that was the first target of Nazi Germany's deadly bombings.

The ceremony in Wielun, attended by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda, started Sunday at 4.40 a.m., the exact hour that, according to survivors, the war's first bombs fell, killing civilians.

Minutes later, observances began at Westerplatte Peninsula, on the Baltic coast, the site of the war's first battle as Polish troops put up resistance.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and many other leaders will also attend the main event in Warsaw.

President Donald Trump canceled his arrival to deal with Hurricane Dorian approaching Florida.