Leaders and officials from across Europe and the United States gathered in Gdansk of northern Poland on Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the European war in World War Two.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel were among the politicians from about 20 European countries and the United States, who participated in the ceremonies in Westerplatte, by the port of Gdansk, on Tuesday.
Soldiers stand guard by the monument of World War Two at Westerplatte, outside of Gdansk September 1, 2009.
"Today marks the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the most terrible of wars. We are in Westerplatte, the symbol of heroic resistance against the stronger enemy," Poland's President Lech Kaczynski said while opening the international part of the ceremonies.
The shelling of Westerplatte by the German Schleswig-Holstein warship started at 4:45 a.m. on Sept. 1, 1939 and was long considered to have been the first episode in the Nazi aggression on Poland that started the World War in Europe.
Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk said during the Westerplatte ceremonies that the "biggest tragedy in the history of the humankind began in Gdansk on Sept. 1."