Ceremonies on the Westerplatte peninsula are expected to be attended by mayors of 24 cities, including London, Italian Cassino and Japanese Osaka, Gdańsk mayor Aleksandra Dulkiewicz said at a press conference on Saturday.
Dulkiewicz said that the anniversary should prompt people to think about how much they value peace and that thanks to the efforts and sacrificed lives, Poles can now live in a free Poland, in a Europe that enjoys peace.
She said: “This is a message which we would very much like to see flowing from Gdańsk during the two days of commemorations comprising the 39th anniversary of the signing of the August Agreement, the 5th anniversary of the opening of the European Solidarity Centre and the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.”
The August Agreement of 1980 saw the end of mass protests and signified the beginning of the end of communism in the country.
Commemorations of the start of WWII have traditionally been held at the Westerplatte peninsula in Gdańsk, which was the site of a Polish military depot that was shelled by a German battleship at 4:45 am on 1 September 1939. It was the first battle between Polish and German soldiers in WWII.
The week-long defence of the site by Poles against overwhelmingly larger German forces became a symbol of the heroism of Polish soldiers.
Source: PAP, Onet