Speaking at a ceremony in the Polish town of Wieluń, where the first German bombs fell, Steinmeier said “far too few” Germans knew the town’s history today.

Alternating between German and Polish, he continued: “I bow before the Polish victims of German tyranny. And I ask for your forgiveness.”

Steinmeier was joined by Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, who described his German counterpart as someone “who has come with humility, with his head bowed, to pay homage … to share the pain.”

The two leaders observed a minute’s silence at the ceremony, which began at 4:40 a.m., the moment 80 years ago when the first bombs rained down on the town’s civilians. Some six million Polish citizens would die over the course of World War II.