Introduction

Poland was the only European country which fought and at times experienced defeat - but never capitulated - from the first to the last day of World War II. This armed conflict, the greatest in world’s history, began with an attack upon Poland in 1939: first by Germany on September 1 and then by the Soviet Union on September 17. In June 1941, after the Third Reich’s attack on the USSR, the Soviet Union joined the Great Coalition whose combined force won the war and their leaders decided the new division of the world, including how post-war Poland would look. Although Poland belonged to the victorious camp, and Polish soldiers fought on all of Europe’s fronts (and many outside of Europe as well) and participated in the capture of Berlin, full independence for Poland would not be won until 1989.