World War II: The Invasion of Poland and the Winter War as presented by: The Atlantic

In August of 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression treaty -- one week later, Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. The first attack of the war took place on September 1, 1939, as German aircraft attacked the Polish town of Wielun, killing nearly 1,200. Five minutes later, the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on a transit depot at Westerplatte in the Free City of Danzig. Within days, the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany and began mobilizing their armies and preparing their civilians. On September 17, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east. Polish forces surrendered in early October after losing some 65,000 troops and many thousands of civilians. In November, Soviet forces invaded Finland and began a months-long battle dubbed the Winter War. By the beginning of 1940, Germany was finalizing plans for the invasions of Denmark and Norway. Collected here are images of these tumultuous first months and of Allied forces preparing for the arduous battles to come. A ten-year-old Polish girl named Kazimiera Mika mourns over her sister's body. She was killed by German machine-gun fire while picking potatoes in a field outside Warsaw, Poland, in September of 1939. British troops cheerfully board their train for the first stage of their trip to the western front, somewhere in England, om September 20, 1939. On November 30, 1939, after Soviet demands made to Finland went unmet -- they were asking the Finns to give them land concessions and to destroy fortifications along the border -- the USSR invaded Finland. Some 450,000 Soviet soldiers crossed the border, starting a brutal, frozen battle that would be called the Winter War. In this image, a member of a Finnish anti-aircraft detachment, wearing his white camouflage uniform, works with a range-finder on December 28, 1939, during a Russian aerial attack.

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