Have you ever wanted to look back through the pages of history, and learn more about what happened on a particular day in the past? In this article from This Day That Age, we’ll take a look at September 1, and discuss a few of the most famous events that happened on this day in history, as well as some famous birthdays – and give you a peek into the past.
September 1, 1939: World War II Starts When Germany Invades Poland
September 1, 1939, marks the beginning of the German invasion of Poland, which began with an aerial assault on a number of Polish ships near the Free City of Danzig, during the Battle of Danzig Bay.
This invasion came only a week after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed between Germany and the Soviet Union, which was a treaty of non-aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union – one that would be broken later on 22 June 1941, when the German Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union.
This event is noted as the first battle that truly kicked off World War II – after the invasion of Poland and its split between Germany and the Soviet Union, Germany began invading the rest of Europe, resulting in the deadliest conflict in human history, with a total of more than 70 million dead.
So, while the initial invasion of Poland may have seemed somewhat minor, it’s become a footnote to one of the most meaningful, important historical events in the world.
Observations And Celebrations
Veterans Day in Poland is celebrated on September 1st every year, which is the same day that Nazi Germany invaded Poland. It is a holiday declared by statute, so it is not a public holiday, and it was first established in 1997.
This day is observed by the President of Poland, who attends a Roll Call of the Fallen, and addresses a gathering in Warsaw, at Poland’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Often, this is accompanied with a military parade. Citizens also remember those who died defending their homeland, and honor those who sacrificed their lives in Poland during the German Invasion.
Other Famous Events On This Day In History
1945: V-J Day
On September 1st, 1945, V-J (Victory over Japan) Day is celebrated. Technically, this event occurred at 9 AM on September 2nd, 1945 – when Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu signed their surrender treaty with Commander Douglas MacArthur of the U.S. Armed Forces onboard the USS Missouri – but on U.S. Time, this means that V-J Day actually occurred the night before, on September 1st!
Interestingly, too, there are two different widely-accepted dates for V-J Day – some say that it should be recognized on August 15th, when Emperor Hirohito broadcast his unconditional surrender over Japanese radio, little over a week from when the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear bombs Little Boy and Fat Man, on August 9, 1945.
1914: Passenger Pigeons Become Extinct
Unfortunately for nature lovers, September 1st, 1914 is the date that the last known Passenger Pigeon, named Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo in Cincinnati, Ohio. This marked the death of the last of the Passenger Pigeons that had been held in captivity, effectively making the species extinct.
This day is even more interesting because the Passenger Pigeon used to be the most common bird in America – and perhaps the most abundant bird in the world, with a population of up to 5 billion when America was discovered by Europeans. However, widespread hunting and deforestation devastated the bird. It declined throughout the late 19th century, and the last wild 1bird is thought to have been shot in 1901. By 1914, only one remained – and Martha passed on September 1st, marking the extinction of the species.
1954: “Rear Window” By Hitchcock Is Released
“Rear Window” directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring both James Stewart and Grace Kelly, is recognized as one of the most highly-influential thriller films of all time, and is considered by many film scholars to be one of the best films ever made. It received four Academy Award nominations, and in 1997, it was added to the United States National Film Registry in the Library of Congress.
Famous Birthdays On September 1
1923: Rocky Marciano
Rocky Marciano was a world-class, professional boxer who competed from 1947-1955, and held the World Heavyweight Title from 1952-1956. He was the only world Heavyweight champion to retire undefeated, and is widely regarded to be one of the greatest boxers of all time – and his legacy lives on today, since he is the primary inspiration behind the Rocky Balboa film franchise.
1957: Gloria Estefan
Gloria Estefan is a Cuban-American singer and songwriter, who got her start in the group “Miami Latin Boys.” She released her album “Into The Light” in 1991, after a severe tour bus accident in 1990, and then won three Grammy awards when her follow-up, Mi Tierra, was released in 1993. She has sold a total of more than 115 million records worldwide, and 31.5 million in the United States, and has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, for her contributions to American music.
1795: James Gordon Bennett
Born to a Roman Catholic Family in Scotland, James Gordon Bennet is most well-known for his contributions to the modern newspaper industry. He sailed to North America in 1819, and began working in newspapers in New York City in 1823. In 1835, he founded the New York Herald – which was widely-known for its no-holds barred attitude for reporting, and using cutting-edge technology like woodcut illustrations. Bennett conducted the first ever newspaper interview of a sitting President with Martin Van Buren in 1839.
Some days are more memorable than others – and September 1 certainly has had quite a few events that make it a major day in history. From the beginning of World War II to V-J day and more, there are many things to reflect on when you think about this day in history.