There are opinions which consider in fact the invasion of Poland as an excuse for the start of the war. In this sense, the events in 1939 are known to have been an untrue story. More precisely, "Hitler desired war and any further attempts to negotiate peace were doomed to failure. The Nazis then staged a fake attack on a German radio outpost along the German-Polish border and used that as an excuse for invasion" (Quotes and sayings, n.d.) Therefore, it can be said that the invasion of Poland was indeed the event which triggered the start of the war. Hours after the invasion, the British and the French ultimatum was presented to the German Ambassador in the respective countries. They ultimatum was not respected, nor agreed upon by the German side which was determined to go to war against the Western side.
Poland represented only one step in Hitler's way to supremacy in Europe and the regaining of status by the German Republic. His stated statement was present in Mein Kampf where he argued that "Germany will either be a world power or there will be no Germany" (Kershaw, 2001) Therefore he followed his aim of attaining this goal. One of the arguments which consider that in fact the emergence of the world war was largely due to the conciliatory attitude of the European countries comes from Robert Kagan who views the weakness of the European countries as being the main element which influenced the way in which the events would evolve (Kagan, 2003). However, it is rather hard to demonstrate the fact that the continuous weak policy the world hand towards the Nazi regime enabled it to create such a massive phenomenon.
Another reason which is often discussed in relation to the actual issues arising from the invasion of Poland represents the precise reason for which Europe did not address the issue of the resurrection of Germany; in the end it was too late to successfully fight an entire army. More precisely, "although Hitler was considered something of an extremist, he was not yet the megalomaniac the world now knows him to be. Although much of what was to follow was mentioned in Mein Kampf, few outside Germany had bothered to read this long and dull work. Paradoxically, Hitler was also considered a positive development by many. His dynamic leadership appeared to bring badly needed order and stability to Germany" (Havers, 2000). However, there was little vigilance on the political scene at the time. Nobody actually believed in Hitler's capacity to subdue an entire people and to command it against Europe.
Despite the fact that the invasion of Poland is an interpretable aspect of the Second World War, taking into account the events prior to 1 September 1938, it can be said that the European states, and Britain and France in particular became well aware of the fact that the intentions of Hitler concerning the eventual war were serious. In the years preceding 1939, Hitler had taken into consideration and eventually succeeded in annexing Austria as part of the Anschluss process which implied, more or less, to integration of Austria in the German state (Nye, 2005). Given the fact that Germany used to a limited extent means that could not have been politically attacked by the international scene, there was little reaction to Hitler's plan. However, by the time Chamberlain had interacted with Hitler on the issue of the Danzig province it was beginning to be clearer that the intention of the German Fuhrer was to dominate the entire Europe (Kissinger, 1995).
From the point-of-view of the historical context before the invasion of Poland therefore, it can be stated that the European countries were well aware of the fact that should the interests of the Fuhrer include Poland, war would emerge. Therefore, Poland represented the final limit Europeans were willing to get to. A proof of this fact was the agreements signed prior to the invasion of the Polish state. More precisely, both Great Britain on 25 august 1939 as well as France entered into military agreements that stipulate help in case of aggression. In this sense, "should one of the Contracting Parties become engaged in hostilities with a European Power in consequence of aggression by the latter against that Contracting Party, the other Contracting Party will at once give the Contracting Party engaged in hostilities all the support and assistance in its power" (Yale Law School, 2008). Therefore, the plan for war is stated precisely in this agreement which was signed with the Polish government. It was clear that Hitler's threat was imminent and the invasion of Poland was considered at the time the triggering moment for the overall war hostilities.
The reasons for which the European troops declared war on Germany are multiple. However, one of the most important one was the actual threat Hitler posed not only to the East European countries but at the same time to the entire European continent. More precisely, Germany had historical quarrels with France over the Alsace and Lorena provinces which were given to France following the Versailles Treaty Hitler considered to be unjust. At the same time though, Germany had acquired in the years following the end of the First World War an important aviation power which would later be used against Britain. Nonetheless, the eventuality of Hitler engaging in air strikes against Britain scared the entire political scene in the country. Finally, the entrance of the United States in the war started by Hitler was the escape point for France and Great Britain which otherwise would have suffered tremendous losses if not crucial ones for their existence as a free and independent state.
Overall, it can be concluded that the invasion of Poland was the element which triggered the start of the Second World War. The action in itself was in fact an excuse for engaging in the war; nonetheless, the European powers, France and Great Britain, by the time they signed assistance pacts with Poland were well aware of the fact that the invasion of Poland would mean the start of the war.
BBC. 1939: Britain and France declare war on Germany. N.d. 9 May 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/september/3/newsid_3493000/3493279.stm
Havers, Robin. The Second World War: Europe, 1939-1943 Volume: 2. New York: Rutledge, 2002.
Kagan, Robert. Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order. New York: Knopf Publishers, 2003.
Kershaw, Ian. Hitler 1936-45: Nemesis. London: Penguin Books, 2001.
Kissinger, Henry. Diplomacy. London: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
Nye, Joseph. Understanding international conflicts: an introduction to theory and history. New York: Pearson, 2005.
Quotes and sayings. Chamberlain. N.d. 9 May 2008. http://www.quotesandsayings.com/snevnazi.htm
Sutton, Anthony. "Wall Street and the rise of Hitler." Studies in Reformist Theology website. 2000. 9 May 2008. http://reformed-theology.org/html/books/wall_street/index.html
Williamson Murray, Allan Reed Millett. A War to be Won: Fighting the Second World War. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000.
Yale Law School. "Agreement of Mutual Assistance between the United Kingdom and Poland.-London, August 25, 1939. The Avalon Project. 2008. 9 May 2008 http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/wwii/bluebook/blbk19.htm
Yale Law School. "President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, 8 January, 1918. The Avalon Project. 2008. 9 May 2008 http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/wilson14.htm