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Danzig was a port city predominately German in population. Inland from Danzig the Germans were a minority and Poles were the majority. The settlement at Paris separated Danzig from Germany and created a corridor that gave the newly independent Poland access to the Baltic Sea. Danzig controlled the head of the Vistula River, which flowed to the capital of Poland – Warsaw. Danzig became a free city under the protection of the League of Nations – declared so on January 10, 1920. The Poles constructed a port on Polish territory just west of Danzig, Gdynia, and Danzig and Poland were joined into a customs union.
The Germans of Danzig disliked the separation from Germany. They welcomed the return of German power over the city on August 23, 1939, following a coup led by the Danzig Gauleiter, Albert Forster. On September 1, the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein, arrived to support the German takeover, the battleship firing a few rounds at nearby Poles. It was the first day of Hitler's armies invading Poland – the opening of World War II.
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