70 years ago today.

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by B-17engineer, Sep 3, 2009.

  1. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War (Polish:Kampania wrześniowa or Wojna obronna 1939 roku) in Poland and the Poland Campaign (German: Polenfeldzug) in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that marked the start of World War II. The invasion began on 1 September 1939, one week after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, and ended 6 October 1939 with Germany and the Soviet Union dividing and annexing the whole of Poland.

    The day after the Gleiwitz incident, German forces invaded Poland from the north, south, and west. As the Germans advanced, Polish forces withdrew from their forward bases of operation close to the Polish-German border to more established lines of defence to the east. After the mid-September Polish defeat in the Battle of the Bzura, the Germans gained an undisputed advantage. Polish forces then withdrew to the southeast where they prepared for a long defence of the Romanian Bridgehead and awaited expected French and British support and relief.[17]

    The Soviet Red Army's invasion of the Kresy on 17 September, in accordance with a secret protocol of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, rendered the Polish plan of defence obsolete.[18] Facing a second front, the Polish government concluded the defence of the Romanian Bridgehead was no longer feasible and ordered an emergency evacuation of all troops to neutral Romania. [19] On October 6, following the Polish defeat at the Battle of Kock, German and Soviet Union forces gained full control over Poland. The success of the the invasion marked the end of the Second Polish Republic, though Poland never formally surrendered.

    On 8 October, Germany directly annexed western Poland and the former Free City of Danzig and placed the remaining block of territory under administration of the newly established General Government. The Soviet Union immediately started a campaign of sovietization of the newly acquired areas. This included staged elections, the results of which were used to legitimize the Soviet Union's annexation of eastern Poland. In the aftermath of the invasion, a collective of underground resistance organizations formed the Polish Underground State within the territory of the former Polish state. Many of the military exiles that managed to escape Poland subsequently joined the Polish Armed Forces in the West, an armed force loyal to the Polish government in exile.

    Poland was attacked by German, Slovak and Russian forces.

    [edit] Germany

    Germany had a substantial numerical advantage over Poland and had developed a significant military prior to the conflict. The Heer (army) had some 2,400 tanks organized into six panzer divisions, utilizing a new operational doctrine. It held that these divisions should act in coordination with other elements of the military, punching holes in the enemy line and isolating selected units, which would be encircled and destroyed. This would be followed up by less-mobile mechanized infantry and foot soldiers. The Luftwaffe (air force) provided both tactical and strategic air power, particularly dive bombers that disrupted lines of supply and communications. Together, the so-called "new" methods, were nicknamed "Blitzkrieg" (lightning war). Historians Basil Liddell Hart claimed "Poland was a full demonstration of the Blitzkrieg theory."[34] Other historians, however, disagree.[35]

    Aircraft played a major role in the campaign. Bombers also attacked cities, causing huge losses amongst the civilian population through terror bombing. The Luftwaffe forces consisted of 1,180 fighter aircraft: 290 Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers, 1,100 conventional bombers (mainly He 111s and Dornier Do 17s), and an assortment of 550 transport and 350 reconnaissance aircraft.[36][37] In total, Germany had close to 4,000 aircraft, all up to modern standards. A force of 2,315 aircraft were assigned to Weiss.[38] Due to its prior participation in the Spanish Civil War, the Luftwaffe was probably the most experienced, best trained and best equipped air force in the world in 1939.[39]

    Poland
    Photo of a column of troops marching
    Polish Infantry

    Between 1936 and 1939, Poland invested heavily in the Central Industrial Region. Preparations for a defensive war with Germany were ongoing for many years, but most plans assumed fighting would not begin before 1942. To raise funds for industrial development, Poland sold much of the modern equipment it produced.[40] In 1936, a National Defence Fund was set up to collect funds necessary for strengthening the Polish Armed forces. The Polish Army had approximately a million soldiers, but less than half of them were mobilized by 1 September. Latecomers sustained significant casualties when public transport became targets of the Luftwaffe. The Polish military had fewer armoured forces than the Germans, and these units, dispersed within the infantry, were unable to effectively engage the enemy.[41]

    Experiences in the Polish-Soviet War shaped Polish Army organizational and operational doctrine. Unlike the trench warfare of the First World War, the Polish-Soviet War was a conflict in which the cavalry's mobility played a decisive role. .[42] Poland acknowledged the benefits of mobility but was unable to invest heavily in many of the expensive, unproven inventions since then. In spite of this, Polish cavalry brigades were used as a mobile mounted infantry and had some successes against both German infantry and cavalry.[43]

    The Polish Air Force (Lotnictwo Wojskowe) was at a severe disadvantage against the German Luftwaffe, although it was not destroyed on the ground early on, as is commonly believed. The Polish Air Force lacked modern fighter aircraft, but its pilots were among the world's best trained, as proven a year later in the Battle of Britain, in which the Poles played a major part.[44]

    Overall, the Germans enjoyed numerical and qualitative aircraft superiority. Poland had only about 600 modern aircraft. The Polish Air Force had roughly 185 PZL P.11 and some 95 PZL P.7 fighters, 175 PZL.23 Karaś B, 35 Karaś A, and by September, over 100 PZL.37 Łoś were produced.[Note 5] There were also over a thousand obsolete transport, reconnaissance and training aircraft. However, for the September Campaign, only some 70% of those aircraft were mobilized. Only 36 PZL.37 Łoś bombers were deployed. All those aircraft were of indigenous Polish design, with the bombers being more modern than fighters, according to the Ludomił Rayski air force expansion plan, which relied on a strong bomber force. The Polish fighters were a generation older than their German counterparts. The Polish PZL P.11 fighter, produced in the early 1930s, was capable of only 365 km/h (approximately 220 mi/h), far less than German bombers; to compensate, the pilots relied on its manoeuvrability and high diving speed.[46]

    he tank force consisted of two armoured brigades, four independent tank battalions and some 30 companies of TKS tankettes attached to infantry divisions and cavalry brigades. [47] A standard tank of the Polish Army during the Polish Defensive War of 1939 was 7TP light tank. It was the first tank in the world with diesel engine and 360-degree Gundlach periscope.[48]. 7TP was significantly better armed than its most common opponents, the German Panzer I and Panzer II but only 140 tanks were produced between 1935 and the outbreak of the war.

    The Polish Navy was a small fleet of destroyers, submarines and smaller support vessels. Most Polish surface units followed Operation Peking, leaving Polish ports on 20 August and escaping by way of the North Sea to join with the British Royal Navy. Submarine forces participated in Operation Worek, with the goal of engaging and damaging German shipping in the Baltic Sea, but they had much less success. In addition, many merchant marine ships joined the British merchant fleet and took part in wartime convoys
     
  2. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Part II

    he German plan for what became known as the September Campaign was devised by General Franz Halder, chief of the general staff, and directed by General Walther von Brauchitsch, the commander in chief of the upcoming campaign. It called for the start of hostilities before a declaration of war, and pursued a doctrine of mass encirclement and destruction of enemy forces. The infantry – far from completely mechanized but fitted with fast moving artillery and logistic support – was to be supported by German tanks and small numbers of truck-mounted infantry (the Schützen regiments, forerunners of the panzergrenadiers) to assist the rapid movement of troops and concentrate on localized parts of the enemy front, eventually isolating segments of the enemy, surrounding, and destroying them. The pre-war armored idea (which an American journalist in 1939 dubbed Blitzkrieg), which was advocated by some generals, including Heinz Guderian, would have had the armor punching holes in the enemy's front and ranging deep into rear areas, but in actuality, the campaign in Poland would be fought along more traditional lines. This stemmed from conservatism on the part of the German high command, who mainly restricted the role of armor and mechanized forces to supporting the conventional infantry divisions.

    Poland's terrain was well suited for mobile operations when the weather cooperated – the country had flat plains with long frontiers totalling almost 5,600 kilometres (3,500 mi), Poland's long border with Germany on the west and north (facing East Prussia) extended 2,000 kilometres (1,250 mi). Those had been lengthened by another 300 kilometres (180 mi) on the southern side in the aftermath of the Munich Agreement of 1938; the German incorporation of Bohemia and Moravia and creation of the German puppet state of Slovakia meant that Poland's southern flank was exposed.

    German planners intended to fully exploit their long border with the great enveloping manoeuvre of Fall Weiss. German units were to invade Poland from three directions:

    * A main attack over the western Polish border. This was to be carried out by Army Group South commanded by General Gerd von Rundstedt, attacking from German Silesia and from the Moravian and Slovak border: General Johannes Blaskowitz's 8th Army was to drive eastward against Łódź; General Wilhelm List's 14th Army was to push on toward Kraków and to turn the Poles' Carpathian flank; and General Walter von Reichenau's 10th Army, in the centre with Army Group South's armour, was to deliver the decisive blow with a northeastward thrust into the heart of Poland.
    * A second route of attack from northern Prussia. General Fedor von Bock commanded Army Group North, comprising General Georg von Küchler's 3rd Army, which was to strike southward from East Prussia, and General Günther von Kluge's 4th Army, which was to attack eastward across the base of the Polish Corridor.
    * A tertiary attack by part of Army Group South's allied Slovak units from Slovakia.
    * From within Poland, the German minority would assist by engaging in diversion and sabotage operations through Selbstschutz units prepared before the war.

    All three assaults were to converge on Warsaw, while the main Polish army was to be encircled and destroyed west of the Vistula. Fall Weiss was initiated on 1 September 1939, and was the first operation of the Second World War in Europe.

    The Polish political determination to deploy forces directly at the German-Polish border, based on the British Government's promise to come to Poland's aid in the event of invasion, shaped the country's defence plan, Plan West. Poland's most valuable natural resources, industry and population were located along the western border in Eastern Upper Silesia. Polish policy centred on their protection especially since many politicians feared that if Poland were to retreat from the regions disputed by Germany, Britain and France would sign a separate peace treaty with Germany similar to the Munich Agreement of 1938.[49] The fact that none of Poland's allies had specifically guaranteed Polish borders or territorial integrity certainly did not help in easing Polish concerns. For these reasons, Poland disregarded French advice to deploy the bulk of their forces behind the natural barriers such as the Vistula and San rivers, even though some Polish generals supported it as a better strategy. The West Plan did permit the Polish armies to retreat inside the country, but it was supposed to be a slow retreat behind prepared positions and was intended to give the armed forces time to complete its mobilization and execute a a general counteroffensive with the support of the Western Allies.[50]

    Finally after fierce Polish fighting on September 3rd, 1939 war was declared by Britain and France. My point of the thread :D

    Source: Wiki
     
  3. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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  4. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    The British leader had hoped that the threat of saying they would back the Poles would be sufficent to avoid another world war.
    Chamberlin was a weak leader (hence the vote of no confidence shortly after the onset of hostilities) and felt that by deploying troops on Polish soil it would only prevoke the situation once though this had failed it was far too late to actually give any military support to the Poles as well he and the British cabinet including Churchill knew.
    After that the BEF was deployed but operatiing on French soil came under their overall control and with a general who was twenty years out of date on tactics and even communications (prefering dispach rides over phone and radio) the fate of europe was settled.
     
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