On September 1, 1939 Hitler ordered his troops into Poland. Poland had signed a pact with Britain (as recently as August 25) and France and the two western powers soon declared a war on Germany, but remained rather inactive and extended no aid to the attacked country. On September 17, the Soviet troops moved in and took control of most of the areas of Eastern Poland having significant Ukrainian and Belarusian populations under the terms of the German-Soviet agreement. While Poland's military forces were fighting the invading armies, Poland's top government officials and military high command left the country (September 17/18). Among the military operations that held out the longest (until late September or early October) were the Defense of Warsaw, the Defense of Hel and the resistance of the Polesie Group.
Fighting the initial "September Campaign" of World War II was the most significant Polish contribution to the allied war effort. The nearly one million Polish soldiers mobilized significantly delayed Hitler's attack on Western Europe, planned for 1939. When the Nazi offensive did happen, the delay caused it to be less effective, a possibly crucial factor in the case of the defense of Britain.
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