Germany’s president bowed his head and asked for forgiveness for the suffering his nation inflicted on Poland and the rest of Europe during World War II.
"This war was a German crime,'' President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Poland's leaders, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others Sunday at a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II.
"I bow in mourning to the suffering of the victims,'' Steinmeier said. "I ask for forgiveness for Germany's historical debt. I affirm our lasting responsibility.''
The ceremony, which was also attended by President Andrzej Duda of Poland, was held at 4.37a.m. local time, exactly 80 years after the air strikes that started the Second World War.
“Here began the trail of violence and destruction which was to go through Poland and Europe for six years. We call it war, because we are at a loss to express the horror of those years,” Steinmeier said.
U.S. President Donald Trump had originally been scheduled to attend the event, but canceled as Hurricane Dorian barreled toward the U.S.
Russian President Vladimir Putin wasn't invited to attend the ceremony but that didn't stop Russia officials from marking the role Soviet Union played in ending the war.
"One may have varying opinions on Soviet policy during the initial period of World War II, but it is impossible to deny the fact that it was the Soviet Union that routed Nazism, liberated Europe and saved European democracy," the Russian Foreign Ministry tweeted Sunday.