When Darkness Fell

World War II began last . . . Friday, Sept. 1, when a German bombing plane dropped a projectile on Puck, fishing village and air base in the armpit of the Hel Peninsula.

That sentence, appearing in TIME magazine 50 years ago, reported the start of a cataclysm that would ultimately sweep across five continents and change the world forever.

By the time the slaughter ended nearly six years later, more than 50 million people, two-thirds of them civilians, had been killed -- shot, drowned, bombed, frozen, starved, gassed. A number of ideas and institutions too had been killed or gravely...

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