Britain and France declare war on Germany

On September 3, 1939, in response to Hitler’s invasion of Poland, Great Britain and France, the two allies of the invaded nation declared war on Germany.

The first victim of this statement was not German, but the British liner Athenia, which was sunk by a German U-30 submarine which had assumed the liner was armed and belligerent. There were more than 1,100 passengers on board, 112 of whom lost their lives. Of these, 28 were Americans, but President Roosevelt was not surprised by the tragedy, declaring that no one should “speak without thinking or falsely that America is sending its armies to European fields.” The United States would remain neutral.


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