It was the opening gambit of World War Two in Europe. After trying to press its geographical claims (especially to the Danzing corridor) through political means, Hitler decided to go ahead with an invasion of Poland.
Two weeks later, in accordance with the provision of a secret agreement between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, Stalin’s forces invaded Poland from the east, and within a month, the nation was conquered entirely, and partitioned between the two invaders.
But the war wasn’t over. Poland had allies – France, Britain and Britain’s Empire all declared war on Germany on September 3. World War Two had begun in Europe.
It’s an iconic image, symbolising madness, decadence and a corrupt lust for power. But did it actually happen?
In all probability, it didn’t. For a start, the fiddle would not be invented for another thousand years – Nero played the lyre. And according to Tacitus, Nero not only wasn’t in Rome when the fire occurred, but raced back to organise the relief efforts and funded a large portion of the reconstruction of the city from his own purse. Hardly a picture of a depraved monster, is it?
The fire is believed to have started near the Circus Maximus. It burned for seven days and five nights – on the fifth day, it was nearly quelled before flaring up with renewed strength. Of the city’s 14 districts, seven were damaged and three destroyed outright.