Polish myths from the Invasion in 1939

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

  1. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    I saw this on a different forum and thought some people may like to see these.

    Myths from the Polish Invasion of 1939 - World War II Zone Forums

    From Wiki:

    There are several common misconceptions regarding the Polish September Campaign:

    Myth: The Polish Army fought German tanks with horse-mounted cavalry wielding lances and swords.

    Although Poland had 11 cavalry brigades and its doctrine emphasized cavalry units as elite units, other armies of that time (including German and Soviet) also fielded and extensively used horse cavalry units. Polish cavalry (equipped with anti tank rifles "UR" and light artillery like the highly effective Bofors 37 mm antitank gun) never charged German tanks or entrenched infantry or artillery directly, but usually acted as mobile infantry (like dragoons) and reconnaissance units and executed cavalry charges only in rare situations against enemy infantry. The myth most likely originated from the German propaganda portrayal of the battle of Krojanty, when Polish cavalry was fired upon by hidden armored vehicles after having mounted a sabre-charge against German infantry.

    Myth: The Polish air force was destroyed on the ground in the first days of the war.

    The Polish Air Force, though numerically inferior, had been moved from air bases to small camouflaged airfields shortly before the war. Only some trainers and auxiliary aircraft were destroyed on the ground. The Polish Air Force, significantly outnumbered and with its fighters outmatched by more advanced German fighters, remained active up to the second week of the campaign, inflicting significant damage on the Luftwaffe.[68] The Luftwaffe lost, to all operational causes, 285 aircraft, with 279 more damaged, while the Poles lost 333 aircraft.

    Myth: Poland offered little resistance and surrendered quickly.

    Germany sustained relatively heavy losses, especially in vehicles and planes: Poland cost the Germans approximately the equipment of an entire armored division and 25% of its air strength. As for duration, the September Campaign lasted only about one week less than the Battle of France in 1940, even though the Anglo-French forces were much closer to parity with the Germans in numerical strength and equipment. Furthermore, the Polish Army was preparing the Romanian Bridgehead, which would have prolonged Polish defence, but this plan was cancelled due to the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939.Poland also never officially surrendered to the Germans. Under German occupation, the Polish army continued to fight underground, as Armia Krajowa and forest partisans – Leśni. The Polish resistance movement in World War II in German-occupied Poland was the largest resistance movement in all of occupied Europe.

    Myth: Blitzkrieg was first used in Poland.

    It is often assumed that blitzkrieg is the strategy that Germany first used in Poland. Many early postwar histories, such as Barrie Pitt's in The Second World War (BPC Publishing 1966), attribute German victory to "enormous development in military technique which occurred between 1918 and 1940", citing that "Germany, who translated (British inter-war) theories into action… called the result Blitzkrieg." This idea has been repudiated by some authors. Matthew Cooper writes: "Throughout the Polish Campaign, the employment of the mechanized units revealed the idea that they were intended solely to ease the advance and to support the activities of the infantry…. Thus, any strategic exploitation of the armoured idea was still-born. The paralysis of command and the breakdown of morale were not made the ultimate aim of the … German ground and air forces, and were only incidental by-products of the traditional manoeuvers of rapid encirclement and of the supporting activities of the flying artillery of the Luftwaffe, both of which had as their purpose the physical destruction of the enemy troops. Such was the Vernichtungsgedanke of the Polish campaign." Vernichtungsgedanke was a strategy dating back to Frederick the Great, and was applied in the Polish Campaign little changed from the French campaigns in 1870 or 1914. The use of tanks "left much to be desired...Fear of enemy action against the flanks of the advance, fear which was to prove so disastrous to German prospects in the west in 1940 and in the Soviet Union in 1941, was present from the beginning of the war.""John Ellis, writing in Brute Force asserted that "…there is considerable justice in Matthew Cooper's assertion that the panzer divisions were not given the kind of strategic (emphasis in original) mission that was to characterize authentic armoured blitzkrieg, and were almost always closely subordinated to the various mass infantry armies." Zaloga and Madej, in The Polish Campaign 1939, also address the subject of mythical interpretations of Blitzkrieg and the importance of other arms in the campaign. "Whilst Western accounts of the September campaign have stressed the shock value of the panzers and Stuka attacks, they have tended to underestimate the punishing effect of German artillery (emphasis added) on Polish units. Mobile and available in significant quantity, artillery shattered as many units as any other branch of the Wehrmacht."[27] Soviet occupation between 1939 and 1941 resulted in the death or deportation of over a million or former Polish citizens, when all who were deemed dangerous to the Soviet regime were subject to sovietization, forced resettlement, imprisonment in labour camps (the Gulags) or murdered, like the Polish officers in the Katyn massacre.
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Good post B-17!
     
  3. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    I'm with FlyboyJ, great post B-17!!:thumbleft:
     
  4. proton45

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    +1

    Nice read...:idea:
     
  5. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Hi B-17

    An excellent summary, and its all correct, incidentally
     
  6. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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  7. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Active Member

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    Very nice. Thanks!
     
  8. Ferdinand Foch

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    Great find, B-17!
     
  9. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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    Cool, thanks for sharing B-17.
     
  10. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Great stuff Harrison! :thumbright:
     
  11. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Great post! :occasion5:
     
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