Versailles Treaty: Territoralial Losses of the German Reich – The True reason why Hitler attacked Zionist Poland

The True reason why Hitler attacked Zionist Poland


No Doubts: Poland Partially Responsible for Beginning WWII

YURIY RUBTSOV | 02.10.2015 | OPINION

No Doubts: Poland Partially Responsible for Beginning WWII

On Monday 28 September, Russian ambassador Sergei Andreev was summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Grzegorz Schetyna, stated that it was because of an interview Andreev had given the day before to the TVN 24 television channel, in which he declared that Poland «is partially responsible» for the disaster of the Second World War.

The minister described the words as «offensive», arising «from a misunderstanding of history», «unjust and untrue». The special statement by the Polish Foreign Ministry on the Russian ambassador’s comments also stated that they undermine «historical truth» and damage relations between Poland and Russia.

The view of Poland exclusively as a victim of Nazi aggression that has become firmly established in historiography and the public consciousness has, for many decades, only ever provoked a natural sympathy for the country. But this view is only partly true, and empathy for a victim of aggression cannot overshadow the entire picture of what happened. Both international and criminal law knows of many examples where random subjects (countries or people) as well as accomplices to the crime have become an object of aggression on the part of the perpetrator. There is a good reason why Mr Schetyna and his subordinates did not go beyond emotion and complaints about a «misunderstanding of history» in their reaction to the Russian diplomat’s words.

Russian ambassador Andreev could have said far more than just recalling Poland’s repeated attempts to block the formation of a coalition to oppose Nazi Germany during the 1930s. In truth, Poland did not just put a spoke in the wheel for forces, primarily the Soviet Union, trying to establish a system of collective security in Europe, but also openly joined Hitler’s expansionist plans.

On 30 September 1939, when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier placed their signatures next to Adolf Hitler’s and Benito Mussolini’s on an agreement handing Czechoslovakia over to the aggressors for slaughter, Warsaw was rubbing its hands expecting an easy meat. In May, French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet had reported to the Polish ambassador that the plan «to divide Czechoslovakia between Germany and Hungary with the transfer of Cieszyn Silesia to Poland is not a secret». The very next day after the Munich Agreement was signed, Warsaw asked for Cieszyn Silesia to be handed over to Poland and, without waiting for an official response, occupied its territory. With this, the country surpassed even Hitler, who gave Czechoslovakia ten days to cede Sudetenland, which was inhabited by ethnic Germans.

The note from Kazimierz Papee, the Polish envoy to Czechoslovakia, to the Czech Foreign Minister Kamil Krofta dated 30 September 1938 is almost a perfect replica of Hitler’s note to Prague regarding Sudetenland: exactly the same references to the «intolerable situation» of the Polish population in Cieszyn Silesia, the definitive conclusion that normalising bilateral relations would only be possible with the «territorial concession» in favour of Poland, and even the laying the blame for repercussions on Czechoslovakia should the country refuse to fulfil such insolent demands.

The coercion of Czechoslovakia was carried out at the behest of Western democracies, but there was still the Soviet Union capable of upsetting the plans of the Munich Four, since it was bound to Czechoslovakia by a treaty of mutual assistance. Implementing the treaty was reliant on one important condition, however – that Red Army forces would be able to pass through Poland. Poland categorically rejected the request to let troops pass through, which was brought to the attention of all the governments concerned. Thus the Polish ambassador in Paris, Juliusz Łukasiewicz, assured his US colleague, William Bullitt, that his country would immediately declare war on the Soviet Union if it tried to send troops through Poland to the borders of Czechoslovakia.

Not everyone in Europe was so naive as to not understand that territorial concessions by Western democracies at the expense of third party countries were only likely to whet Germany’s appetite for new acquisitions, and that a barrier needed to be put in front of Hitler in the form of an agreement with Moscow. On 21 March 1939, British ambassador William Seeds presented the Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs Maxim Litvinov with a draft declaration by Great Britain, the USSR, France and Poland, in accordance with which the governments of the four countries undertook to «hold a consultation on those steps which must be undertaken for the general opposition» to any actions «constituting a threat to the political independence of any European state» and affecting peace and security in Europe. Although the draft was extremely vague and did not propose any effective action to stop aggression, the Soviet government agreed to sign it on 23 March. Poland, however, reacted negatively to the draft declaration and London, referring to Poland’s position, rejected its own initiative a week later.

Warsaw’s short-sightedness had a disastrous impact on the fate of the military convention between the USSR, Great Britain and France which never materialised and which, if it had been signed, would have allowed for the creation of such a military fist that it would have stopped Hitler in his tracks. Talks in Moscow on the signing of the agreement took place in August 1939. The capacity of the document largely depended on a positive solution to the ‘crucial question’, which is how the issue of getting the consent of Poland and Romania to allow Red army troops to pass through their territory was defined in diplomatic correspondence.

A report by the subcommittee of the British Chiefs of Staff Committee presented to the Cabinet on 17 August 1939 contained the following recommendation: «The conclusion of a treaty with Russia appears to us to be the best way of preventing a war. The satisfactory conclusion of this treaty will undoubtedly be endangered if the present Russian proposals for cooperation with Poland and Romania were turned down by these countries. We wish to emphasise once more our view that, if necessary, the strongest pressure should be brought on Poland and Romania to agree in advance to the use of their territory by Russian forces, in the event of attack by Germany». The British Cabinet procrastinated, however, hoping to reach an agreement with Germany behind the USSR’s back and avoid putting the requisite pressure on Warsaw.

The more realistically-minded leaders of the French delegation to the Moscow talks, General Joseph Doumenc and the French ambassador in Moscow P.-E. Naggiar, regarded the Soviet delegation’s stipulation with respect to Poland as well grounded. In a telegram sent to Paris on 15 August, Naggiar wrote: «They are offering us definite assistance in the East and are not putting forward any additional demands regarding assistance from the West. However, the Soviet delegation warns that with its negative position, Poland is making the creation of a front of opposition involving Russian forces impossible».

The ‘crucial question’ on which the fate of the military convention between the three countries rested was never resolved: Warsaw and Bucharest feared the prospect of Soviet troops passing through. On the evening of 19 August, Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły (virtually the second most important person in the government after the president) declared: «Regardless of the consequences, Russian troops will never be permitted onto a single inch of Polish land». Polish Foreign Minister Józef Beck told the French ambassador in Warsaw, Leon Noël, that: «We will not allow the use of part of our territory by foreign troops to be discussed in any form whatsoever».

The chance offered by the Moscow talks to form a united anti-fascist front in Europe was missed. The Soviet leadership, faced with the prospect of international isolation, agreed to sign the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact, which Western capitals and Warsaw are today endeavouring to declare was the trigger for the Second World War. Gentlemen, don’t shift the blame on others. You yourselves did everything you could to whet Hitler’s appetite, but in spite of your anti-Soviet plans, you found yourselves under attack by the aggressor.

Poland was also to regret its short-sightedness, becoming yet another victim of Nazi Germany. The Poles did not notice the shadow of the imperial eagle clutching a swastika in its claws advancing from the West, being too wrapped up in the prospect of taking part in the partition of Czechoslovakia to begin with and then, after 30 September 1938, the tearing away of Cieszyn Silesia.

Such actions by the Polish military and of Polish diplomacy were the reason why Winston Churchill referred to Poland as the «hyena of Europe». The hyena is an animal that is so well-known for the style of its existence that it does not take long to work out why the former British prime minister resorted to such an analogy.

After taking part in the partition of Czechoslovakia, incidentally, Warsaw also dreamed about the partition of the USSR. In December 1938, a report by the intelligence department of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces emphasised that: «The dismemberment of Russia lies at the heart of Poland’s policy in the East… Therefore, our position will be reduced to the following formula: who will take part in the partition? Poland should not remain passive at this great historical moment… The main objective is the weakening and destruction of Russia». The Poles did not limit themselves to the plans of the General Staff. In January 1939, while engaged in talks with his German colleague Joachim von Ribbentrop, Polish Foreign Minister Józef Beck drew Ribbentrop’s attention to the fact that «Poland is laying claim to Soviet Ukraine and an outlet to the Black Sea».

It needs to be understood that the Polish Armed Forces were planning on achieving these goals alongside the Wehrmacht.

* * *

…Nothing hurts like the truth, and without any weighty arguments to counterbalance Russian ambassador Sergei Andreev’s allegations, Poland is threatening him with expulsion. Let me venture to give the Polish politicians who are so sensitive to the truth a piece of advice – throw the works of Winston Churchill, the laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature who named and shamed the «hyena» with the skill of a great politician and genuine writer, onto the scrap heap at the same time. In contrast, the opinions of Ambassador Andreev are the height of diplomatic finesse.

——————————————————————————————————–
The Unknown History
of the 1939 German-Polish Conflict
A Brief SynopsisBy W. R. (Name initialized by The Scriptorium for security reasons.)
This digitized version © 2002 by The Scriptorium. and published here with permission.

To understand how the war in 1939 between Poland and Germany, and consequently WW2, unfolded, it is not sufficient to look at – and accept – the widely-held view that peace-loving and weak little Poland was attacked by an ever-marauding National Socialist Germany. Rather, one must look much deeper into history.

This conflict which cost many millions of lives did not originate with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, as is still claimed today by over-simplifying historians. It is not just a black-and-white story, but a complex one. It was also not caused by the Polish mobilization of her army two days previous, on August 30, 1939, although the mobilization of a country’s army, according to international standards, is equal to a declaration of war on the neighboring country.

German-Polish relations are even today poisoned by centuries-old, deep-seated hatred on the Polish side. For centuries the Poles have been taught from early childhood on

Comment added by The Scriptorium:This selfsame “centuries-old, deep-seated hatred on the Polish side” is still very much in evidence today. We invite the reader to consider the vicious invective and threats that a (Polish? at least rabidly pro-Polish!) visitor to our web site saw fit to send us with reference to the article on this page.

that Germans were evil and ought to be fought whenever there was a promise of success. Hate on such a scale, as it was and still is promoted in Poland today against her westerly neighbor, eventually leads to a chauvinism that knows few constraints. In Poland, as in all countries, the respective elites use the means accessible to them to shape public sentiment. Traditionally these elites have been the Polish Catholic Church, writers, intellectuals, politicians and the press. For a balanced understanding of the forces which moved Poland inexorably ever closer to the war against Germany, it is essential to investigate the role these components of the Polish society have played in the past. And it is fairly easy to find abundant evidence for the above claim and to trace it from the present time back into the distant past.“Póki swiat swiatem, Polak Niemcowi nie bedzie bratem.” This is a Polish proverb, and translated into English it means: “As long as the world will exist, the Pole will never be the German’s brother.”1 While the age of this proverb cannot be traced precisely, it is reflected by a recent poll (1989) taken amongst students of three educational establishments in Warsaw, where only four of 135 fourth-graders [ten-year-olds!] declared having amicable feelings toward the German people. Half of the students questioned considered the Germans to be cruel, spiteful and bloodthirsty. One of the students wrote: “The Germans are as bad as wild animals. Such a people oughtn’t even to exist. And now they even want to unite!”2 One year later, in 1990, the then Polish Prime Minister Lech Walesa made his feelings towards his German neighbors publicly known: “I do not even shrink from a statement that is not going to make me popular in Germany: if the Germans destabilize Europe anew, in some way or other, then partition is no longer what will have to be resorted to, but rather that country will have to be erased from the map, pure and simple. East and West have at their disposal the advanced technology necessary to carry this verdict out.”3

It can reasonably be assumed that these remarks of a public figure like the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Polish president Lech Walesa reflect emotions that are very common in his country. While the three samples of hateful Polish sentiments against Germans were expressed in very recent times, there are many more outbursts of chauvinistic feelings and intentions against Germans in the not too distant past, only some 60 years ago. An example is this Polish slogan from Litzmannstadt, January 1945: “Reich Germans pack your suitcases, ethnic Germans buy your coffins!”4 It is especially important to know this in order to fully understand what this writer proposes: namely, that unrestricted expression of hate and disregard of the rights of others in international affairs can lead to tragedies of unimaginable proportions.

Many years before the differences between Germany and Poland escalated to the point of no return, numerous diplomatic efforts were made by the German government to defuse the ever more dangerous situation the two countries were facing. These efforts were all rejected by Poland. One of them comes to mind: on January 6th, 1939, the German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop met with the Polish Foreign Minister Josef Beck in Munich to discuss the differences between the two countries. Von Ribbentrop proposed “the following solution: the return of Danzig to Germany. In return, all of Poland’s economic interests in this region would be guaranteed, and most generously at that. Germany would be given access to her province of East Prussia by means of an extraterritorial highway and rail line. In return, Germany would guarantee the Corridor and the entire Polish status, in other words, a final and permanent recognition of each nation’s borders.” Beck replied: “For the first time I am pessimistic…” Particularly in the matter of Danzig I see ‘no possibility of cooperation.'”5

The belligerent policy of the Polish leadership was, and is of course, echoed by the public in that country. It goes without saying that a diplomat cannot use the same language as the little man at home can. The desired goal, however, is the same. It is the destruction, and if need be, the extermination of the Germans as Mr. Walesa so clearly stated. A leading role in forging the public view in Poland is that of the Catholic Church. To read what she taught her followers is truly blood-curdling. In 1922 the Polish Canon of Posen, prelate Kos, recited a song of hate which he had borrowed from a 1902 drama by Lucjan Rydel, “Jency” (The Prisoners): “Where the German sets down his foot, the earth bleeds for 100 years. Where the German carries water and drinks, wells are foul for 100 years. Where the German breathes, the plague rages for 100 years. Where the German shakes hands, peace breaks down. He cheats the strong, he robs and dominates the weak, and if there were a path leading straight to Heaven, he wouldn’t hesitate to dethrone God Himself. And we would even see the German steal the sun from the sky.”6 This is by no means a single, individual case. On August 26th, 1920, the Polish pastor in Adelnau said in a speech: “All Germans residing in Poland ought to be hanged.”7And another Polish proverb: “Zdechly Niemiec, zdechly pies, mala to roznica jest”– “A croaked German, is a croaked dog, is just a small difference”.8

Here is the text of another Polish-Catholic war song which was sung in 1848 at the Pan-Slavic Congress in Prague:

“Brothers, take up your scythes! Let us hurry to war!
Poland’s oppression is over, we shall tarry no more.
Gather hordes about yourselves. Our enemy, the German, shall fall!
Loot and rob and burn! Let the enemies die a painful death.
He that hangs the German dogs will gain God’s reward.
I, the provost, promise you shall attain Heaven for it.
Every sin will be forgiven, even well-planned murder,
If it promotes Polish freedom everywhere.
But curses on the evil one who dares speak well of Germany to us.
Poland shall and must survive. The Pope and God have promised it.
Russia and Prussia must fall. Hail the Polish banner!
So rejoice ye all: Polzka zyje, great and small!”9

Not only did these “Christian” priests excel in rhetoric aimed at cultivating deadly hate against Germans during the pre-1939 years, they also prayed in their churches, “O wielk wojn ludów prosimy Cie, Panie! (We pray to you for the great War of Peoples, oh Lord!)”10

Later, when their wishes came true, they actively participated in murdering unsuspecting German soldiers. “…Cardinal Wyszynski confirmed the fact ‘that during the war there was not one single Polish priest who did not fight against the Germans with a weapon in his hand.’ The war lasted only three short weeks, the German occupation lasted several years. This explains the extraordinary high number of priest-partisans who even were joined by bishops.”11 Further back in history, we find that “The Archbishop of Gnesen, around the turn of the 13th century, had the habit of calling the Germans ‘dog heads’. He criticized a bishop from Brixen that he would have preached excellently, had he not been a dog-head and a German.”12

To fully understand the implications that this and other hateful utterances about Germans have on the Polish psyche, one has to know that ‘dog’ is an abusive name that would be hard to top as insult to a German. It is obvious that through this centuries-long conditioning of the common people of Poland by the Catholic hierarchy, from the bishops down to the lowliest clergymen, Polish literature and the press would not be far behind in duplicating the still-continuing vilification of Germans. And indeed there is a plethora of well-documented hostile charges. In his Mythos vom Deutschen in der polnischen Volksüberlieferung und Literatur, Dr. Kurt Lück from Posen explored this propensity to malign Germans. I will repeat here only a few examples in order to illustrate how deeply the Poles are influenced by their elites. In his novel Grazyna, which is used in Polish schools as a learning tool, Mickiewicz uses terms like “psiarnia Krzyzakow” – the dog-pack of the Teutonic Knights . In his novel Pan Tadeusz he writes of “all district presidents, privy councillors, commissaries and all dog-brothers”, and in his book Trzech Budrysow he writes of “Krzyxacy psubraty” – “Knights of the Cross, the dog brothers”. Henryk Sienkiewicz, in his novel Krzyzacy (Knights of the Cross), repeatedly uses the abusive term “dog-brothers”. Jan Kochanowski, in hisProporzec (1569), calls the German Knights of the Cross “pies niepocigniony”: unsurpassable dogs. K. Przerwa-Tetmajer, in the short story “Nefzowie”: “The German manufacturer is called by the Polish workers rudy pies – red-haired dog.”13

It is not difficult to imagine how this perversion of civilized human conduct eventually must lead to a Fascist mentality that was also present in the Polish media. They did not mince words when it came to arousing public fanaticism without restrictions when it was time to go to war against Germany. They were the ultimate instrument for instilling in the public the view that Poland was the peerless power that would chasten Germany by defeating her in a few days. Characteristic of this was, for example, an oil painting that showed Marshal Rydz-Smigly, the Polish commander-in-chief, riding on horseback through the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.14 This painting was found by German troops in the Presidential Palace in Warsaw and was not even completely dry. When war finally came, the Germans in Polish territory suffered terribly. They had to bear the unspeakable hate of the Poles. Some 35,000 of them(German authorities then claimed 58,000 murdered Germans!) were murdered, often under the most bestial circumstances. Dr. Kurt Lück (op.cit.) writes on page 271: “Poles had thrown dead dogs into many of the graves of murdered ethnic Germans. Near Neustadt in West Prussia, the Poles slashed open the belly of a captured German officer, tore out his intestines and stuffed a dead dog inside. This report is reliably documented.”15 And a German mother grieves for her sons. She writes on October 12th, 1939: “Oh, but that our dear boys [her sons] had to die such terrible deaths. 12 people were lying in the ditch, and all of them had been cruelly beaten to death. Eyes gouged out, skulls smashed, heads split open, teeth knocked out… little Karl had a hole in his head, probably from a stabbing implement. Little Paul had the flesh torn off his arms, and all this while they were still alive. Now they rest in a mass grave of more than 40, free at last of their terror and pain. They have peace now, but I never shall…”16 And between 1919 and 1921 400,000 ethnic Germans fled their homes and crossed the German border in order to save their lives.

I personally once knew a German who told me that after serving in the German army he was drafted into the Polish army after 1945, and that the Poles destroyed German cemeteries and looted the graves in order to get at the golden wedding bands the corpses were still wearing.

What can one say of the hate that speaks from the pages of one of the more popular papers, the largest Polish newspaper Ilustrowany Kurjer Codzienny, which appeared on April 20th, 1929, in Cracow? “Away with the Germans behind their natural border! Let’s get rid of them behind the Oder!” “Silesian Oppeln is Polish to the core; just as all of Silesia and all of Pomerania were Polish before the German onslaught!”17

“To absorb all of East Prussia into Poland and to extend our western borders to the Oder and Neisse rivers, that is our goal. It is within reach, and at this moment it is the Polish people’s great mission. Our war against Germany will make the world pause in amazement.”18

“There will be no peace in Europe until all Polish lands shall have been restored completely to Poland, until the name Prussia, being that of a people long since gone, shall have been wiped from the map of Europe, and until the Germans have moved their capital Berlin farther westwards.”19

On October 1923, Stanislaus Grabski, who later was to become Minister of Public Worship and Instruction, announced: “We want to base our relations on love, but there is one kind of love for one’s own people and another kind for strangers. Their percentage is decidedly too high here. Posen [which had been given to Poland after the First World War] can show us one way to reduce that percentage from 14% or even 20% to 1½%. The foreign element will have to see if it would not be better off elsewhere. The Polish land is exclusively for the Poles!”20

“(The Germans in Poland) are intelligent enough to realize that in the event of war no enemy on Polish soil will get away alive… The Führer is far away, but the Polish soldiers are close, and in the woods there is no shortage of branches.”21

“We are ready to make a pact with the devil if he will help us in the battle against Germany. Hear – against Germany, not just against Hitler. In an upcoming war, German blood will be spilled in rivers such as all of world history has never seen before.”22

“Poland’s decision of August 30, 1939 that was the basis for general mobilization marked a turning point in the history of Europe. It forced Hitler to wage war at a time when he hoped to gain further unbloody victories.”23

Heinz Splittgerber, in his short book Unkenntnis oder Infamie?, quotes a number of Polish sources which reflect the atmosphere in Poland immediately before the hostilities commenced. On August 7th, 1939 the Ilustrowany Kurjer featured an article “which described with provocative effrontery how military units were continually foraying across the border into German territory in order to destroy military installations and to take weapons and tools of the German Wehrmacht back to Poland. Most Polish diplomats and politicians understood that Poland’s actions would perforce lead to war. Foreign Minister Beck… tenaciously pursued the bloodthirsty plan of plunging Europe into another great war, since it would presumably result in territorial gains for Poland.”24 He goes on to cite some 14 incidents where Polish soldiers aggressively crossed the border, destroying houses, shooting and killing German farmers and customs officers. One of them: “August 29th: “State Police Offices in Elbing, Köslin and Breslau, Main Customs Office in Beuthen and Gleiwitz: Polish soldiers invade Reich German territory, attack against German customs house, shots taken at German customs officials, Polish machine guns stationed on Reich German territory.”25

These and many more are the things one must take into account before making the fallacious accusation that Germany was the one to have started WW2. The following quotations are added here to show that not only Poland was bent on war against Germany, but also her ally Great Britain (and France). Although it is still widely believed that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain on September 29th, 1938 (Munich) honestly tried for peace, one has to consider the possibility that his real goals were somewhat different. Only five months later, on February 22nd, 1939, he let the cat out of the bag when he said in Blackburn: “… During the past two days we have discussed the progress of our arms build-up. The figures are indeed overwhelming, perhaps even to such an extent that the people are no longer able even to comprehend them…. Ships, cannons, planes and ammunition are now pouring out of our dock yards and factories in an ever-increasing torrent…”26

Max Klüver writes: “Of the considerable body of evidence that gives cause to doubt whether Chamberlain actually wanted peace, one noteworthy item is a conversation [after Hitler’s address to the Reichstag on April 28th,1939, W.R.] between Chamberlain’s chief advisor Wilson, and Göring’s colleague Wohlthat… When Wohlthat, taking his leave, again stressed his conviction that Hitler did not want war, Wilson’s answer was indicative of the fundamental British attitude that could not be a basis for negotiations between equals: ‘I said that I was not surprised to hear him say that as I had thought myself that Hitler cannot have overlooked the tremendous increases which we have made in our defensive and offensive preparations, including for instance the very large increase in our Air Force.'”27

And on April 27th, 1939, England mobilized her armed forces. Heinz Splittgerber quotes Dirk Bavendamm, Roosevelts Weg zum Krieg (Ullstein-Verlag, Berlin 1989, p. 593), who writes: “Since England had never yet introduced universal conscription during peacetime, this alone virtually amounted to a declaration of war against Germany. From 1935 to 1939 (before the outbreak of the war) England’s annual expenditure on war materials had increased more than five-fold.”28

In 1992 and 1993, Max Klüver, another German historian, spent five weeks in the Public Record Office in London searching through documents which, after fifty years of being hidden from public scrutiny, were now open to researchers. He writes in his book Es war nicht Hitlers Krieg: “How little the British cared about Danzig and the allegedly endangered Polish independence is also shown by the following brief prepared for Colonel Beck’s visit of April 3 [1939]. The brief states: ‘Danzig is an artificial structure, the maintenance of which is a bad casus belli. But it is unlikely that the Germans would accept less than a total solution of the Danzig question except for a substantial quid pro quo which could hardly be less than a guarantee of Poland’s neutrality.” But such a deal would be a bad bargain for England. “It would shake Polish morale, increase their vulnerability to German penetration and so defeat the policy of forming a bloc against German expansion. It should not therefore be to our interest to suggest that the Poles abandon their rights in Danzig on the ground that they are not defensible.”29Klüver concludes: “So there we have it clearly stated: in the own British interest, the matter of Danzig must not be solved and peace preserved. The British guarantee to Poland, however, had reinforced the Polish in their stubbornness and made them completely obdurate where any solution to the Danzig question was concerned.”30 The American Professor Dr. Burton Klein, a Jewish economist, wrote in his book Germany’s Economic Preparations for War: “Germany produced butter as well as ‘cannons’, and much more butter and much fewer cannons than was generally assumed.”31 And again: “The overall state of the German war economy … was not that of a nation geared towards total war, but rather that of a national economy mobilized at first only for small and locally restricted wars and which only later succumbed to the pressure of military necessity after it had become an incontrovertible fact. For instance, in the fall of 1939 the German preparations for provision with steel, oil and other important raw materials were anything but adequate for an intense engagement with the Great Powers.”32 One only has to compare Mr. Klein’s observations with what Mr. Bavendamm wrote about the British preparations for a major war at the same time, and the blurred picture that is painted by historians becomes much more transparent: the Germans were not the ones to provoke WW2.

Besides Chamberlain, there were others in influential and powerful positions in England who were much more outspoken about their wishes. Winston Churchill, for instance, said before the House of Commons on October 5th, 1938: “… but there can never be friendship between the British democracy and the Nazi power, that Power which spurns Christian ethics, which cheers its onwards course by a barbarous paganism, which vaunts the spirit of aggression and conquest, which derives strength and perverted pleasure from persecution, and uses, as we have seen, with pitiless brutality the threat of murderous force.”33

Hitler, of course, knew this very well. In Saarbrücken, on October 9th, 1938 he said: “…All it would take would be for Mr. Duff Cooper or Mr. Eden or Mr. Churchill to come to power in England instead of Chamberlain, and we know very well that it would be the goal of these men to immediately start a new world war. They do not even try to disguise their intents, they state them openly…”34

As we all know, the British government under Chamberlain gave Poland the guarantee that England would come to its aid if Poland should be attacked. This was on March 31st, 1939. Its purpose was to incite Poland to escalate its endeavors for war against Germany. It happened as planned: England declared war on Germany on September 3rd, 1939, but not on the Soviet Union who also attacked Poland, and this is proof enough that it was England’s (and Chamberlain’s) intention in the first place to make war on Germany. Thus WW2 was arranged by a complicity between Britain and Poland. It was not Hitler’s war, it was England’s and Poland’s war. The Poles were merely the stooges. Some of them knew it too – Jules Lukasiewicz, the Polish ambassador to Paris, for instance, who on March 29th, 1939 told his foreign minister in Warsaw:

“It is childishly naive and also unfair to suggest to a nation in a position like Poland, to compromise its relations with such a strong neighbour as Germany and to expose the world to the catastrophe of war, for no other reason than to pander to the wishes of Chamberlain’s domestic policies. It would be even more naive to assume that the Polish government did not understand the true purpose of this manoeuver and its consequences.”35

Sixty years have passed since Poland got her wish. Germany lost large additional areas to Poland. Today these regions can hardly be compared to what they originally were. Houses, farms, the infrastructure, agriculture, even the dikes of the Oder river are decaying. Financial help from Germany goes to Poland as if nothing had happened between the two countries. The 2,000,000 Germans still remaining in Poland are largely forgotten by their brothers in the west. They now suffer the same fate as other Germans did in Poland in earlier times: “In earlier times the aim was already to eradicate all things German. For instance, in the 18th century, the Catholic Germans from Bamberg who had followed their Bishop and immigrated to Poland after the plague were forcibly Polonized; they were denied German church services, German confession and the German catechism, and were reeducated to become Poles. By the time of the First World War these Germans from Bamberg had become so thoroughly Polonized that despite their traditional Bamberg costumes, which they still wore and for which they were still called ‘Bamberki’, they could no longer speak German.”36

Not only is today’s German minority in Poland in danger of losing its identity; the same happened even to famous Germans of the past. Veit Stoss, who was born in Nuremberg and died there too, is now called Wit Stwosz, only because in 1440 in Cracow he created the famous high altar in the Marienkirche, 13 meters (39 feet) high and entirely carved from wood. Nikolaus Kopernikus, the famous German astronomer, is now called Mikolaj Kopernik. He lived in Thorn, never spoke a word of Polish, and published his works in Latin. His ancestors were all Germans. The last names of the surviving Germans have been Polonized: Seligman(n), a name also common in the English-speaking world, would now be Swienty! No comparable phenomenon exists in Germany. Poles who immigrated to Germany generations ago still bear their Polish names, and nobody pressures them to change them. They are considered Germans, and they are.

from: Udo Walendy, 'Truth for Germany'.

Source: Udo Walendy, Truth for Germany, map in diagram section between pp. 64-65.

As this map shows, Polish chauvinism literally knows no bounds. The world went through the Second World War largely because of Poland and her taste for lands that belong to others. Some of her aspirations she accomplished in 1945, but this map suggests that there may still be more to Polish desires. Even today’s Czechia and Slovakia are on the list. As Adam Mickiewicz wrote: “But each of you has in his soul the seeds of the future rights and the extent of the future frontiers.”As far as I as German am concerned, I wholeheartedly agree with what Freda Utley wrote in 1945 after she visited destroyed Germany:

“War propaganda has obscured the true facts of history, otherwise Americans might realize that the German record is no more aggressive, if as aggressive, as that of the French, British and Dutch who conquered huge empires in Asia and Africa while the Germans stayed at home composing music, studying philosophy, and listening to their poets. Not so long ago the Germans were, in fact, among the most ‘peace-loving’ peoples of the world and might become so again, given a world in which it is possible to live in peace.

“Mistaken as the Boeklers of Germany may be in believing that concessions can be won from the Western powers by negotiation, their attitude proves the willingness of many Germans to trust to peaceful means to obtain their ends.”37

Notes:

1Else Löser, Polen und die Fälschungen seiner Geschichte, p. 5, Kaiserslautern: self-pub., 1982.…back…

2Kanada Kurier, August 2, 1990, p. 4. …back…

3Lech Walesa, Polish Prime Minister and Peace Nobel Prize laureate, as quoted from an interview published April 4, 1990 in the Dutch weekly Elsevier. …back…

4Else Löser, op.cit. (Note 1). …back…

5Charles Tansill, Die Hintertür zum Kriege, p. 551, quoted in Hans Bernhardt, Deutschland im Kreuzfeuer großer Mächte, p. 229, Preußisch Oldendorf: Schütz, 1988. …back…

6Else Löser, op.cit. (Note 1). …back…

7ibid., 11. …back…

8Else Löser, Das Bild des Deutschen in der polnischen Literatur, p. 12, Kaiserslautern: self-pub., 1983. …back…

9Else Löser, op.cit. (Note 1). …back…

10ibid., p. 44. …back…

11ibid., p. 46. …back…

12Else Löser, op.cit. (Note 8). …back…

13ibid., p. 13. …back…

14Dr. Heinrich Wendig, Richtigstellungen zur Zeitgeschichte, #2, pp. 31, 33, Tübingen: Grabert, 1991. …back…

15Else Löser, op.cit. (Note 8). …back…

16Georg Albert Bosse, Recht und Wahrheit, p. 13, Wolfsburg, September/October 1999. …back…

17Bolko Frhr. v. Richthofen, Kriegsschuld 1939- 1941, p. 75, Kiel: Arndt, 1994. …back…

18Mocarstwowice, Polish newspaper, November 5th, 1930, quoted in Kanada Kurier, September 2nd, 1999. …back…

19Henryk Baginski, Poland and the Baltic, Edinburgh 1942. Quoted in Bolko Frhr. v. Richthofen,Kriegsschuld 1939-1941, p. 81, Kiel: Arndt, 1994. …back…

20Gotthold Rhode, Die Ostgebiete des Deutschen Reiches, p. 126, Würzburg 1956. Quoted in Hugo Wellems, Das Jahrhundert der Lüge, p. 116, Kiel: Arndt, 1989. …back…

21Henryk Baginski, Poland and the Baltic, Edinburgh 1942. Quoted in Bolko Frhr. v. Richthofen,op.cit. (Note 19), p. 81. …back…

22Depsza, Polish newspaper on August 20th, 1939. Quoted from Dr. Conrad Rooster, Der Lügenkreis und die deutsche Kriegsschuld, 1976. …back…

23Kazimierz Sosnkowski, Polish General and Minister-in-Exile, August 31st, 1943. Quoted in Bolko Frhr. v. Richthofen, op.cit. (Note 19), p. 80. …back…

24Heinz Splittgerber, Unkenntnis oder Infamie? Darstellungen und Tatsachen zum Kriegsausbruch 1939, pp. 12-13. Quoted from Oskar Reile, Der deutsche Geheimdienst im Zweiten Weltkrieg, Ostfront, pp.278, 280 f., Augsburg: Weltbild, 1990. …back…

25ibid., p. 14. …back…

26Foreign Ministry, Berlin 1939, Deutsches Weißbuch No. 2, document 242, p. 162. Quoted in Hans Bernhardt, op.cit. (Note 5), p. 231. …back…

27Max Klüver, Es war nicht Hitlers Krieg, pp. 141, 147, Essen: Heitz & Höffkes, 1993. …back…

28Dirk Kunert, Deutschland im Krieg der Kontinente, p. 183, Kiel: Arndt, 1987. …back…

29Max Klüver, op.cit. (Note 27), pp. 162-163. …back…

30ibid., p. 162. …back…

31Burton H. Klein, Germany’s Economic Preparations for War, vol. CIX, Cambridge, Mass., 1959. Quoted in: Joachim Nolywaika, Die Sieger im Schatten ihrer Schuld, p. 54, Rosenheim: Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft, 1994. …back…

32ibid. …back…

33Winston Churchill, Into Battle, Speeches 1938-1940, pp. 81,84. Quoted in: Udo Walendy, Truth for Germany, p. 53, Vlotho: Verlag für Volkstum und Zeitgeschichtsforschung, 1981. …back…

34Foreign Ministry, Berlin 1939, Deutsches Weissbuch No. 2, document 219, p. 148. Quoted in Max Domarus, Hitler-Reden und Proklamationen, vol. I, p. 955. …back…

35Jules Lukasiewicz, quoted in Bolko Frhr. v. Richthofen, op.cit. (Note 19), p. 55. …back…

36Else Löser, op.cit. (Note 1). …back…

37Freda Utley, Kostspielige Rache, p. 162. [English original: The High Cost of Vengeance, Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1949.] Quoted in: Else Löser, Polen und die Fälschungen seiner Geschichte, p. 49, Kaiserslautern: self-pub., 1982. …back…

The Unknown History of the 1939 German-Polish Conflict
A Brief Synopsis

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Invasion of Poland

1 Sep 1939 – 6 Oct 1939

Contributor: John Radzilowskiww2dbasePolitical Situation

ww2dbasePoland had been reborn as an independent nation after World War I and the collapse of Austria-Hungary, Russia, and Germany. Polish borders had been partly re-established by the Versailles Treaty but a series of armed conflicts with Germany, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, and Ukrainian nationalists, as well as a major war with the Soviet Union, gave the borders their final shape.

ww2dbaseDuring the course of the Polish-Soviet War (1919-20), Poland had been forced to rely on her own resources as help from the Western Allies had been slow in coming or had actively blocked by pro-communist unions in Europe. Because of the Polish-Soviet war and continuing Soviet efforts at infiltration thereafter, Polish military and political planning focused primarily on a future conflict with the Soviets. To this end, the Poles developed alliances with Rumania and Latvia. Poland’s policy toward Germany was based on her alliance with France, but Polish-Czech relations remained cool. The problem with the French alliance, as far as the Poles were concerned, was the instability in French politics which resulted in constant indecision about the eastern alliances. As governments rose and fell in regular succession, French policies toward Poland and other allies changed.

ww2dbaseGerman military leaders had begun planning for war with Poland as early as the mid 1920s. Recovering the ethnically Polish territory of Pomerania, Poznan, and Silesia, as well as the largely German Free City of Danzig were the major objectives. Nevertheless, the restrictions of Versailles and Germany’s internal weakness made such plans impossible to realize. Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 capitalized on German’s desire to regain lost territories, to which Nazi leaders added the goal of destroying an independent Poland. According to author Alexander Rossino, prior to the war Hitler was at least as anti-Polish as anti-Semitic in his opinions. That same year, Poland’s Marshal Jozef Pilsudski proposed to the French a plan for a joint invasion to remove Hitler from power, which the French vetoed as mad warmongering.

ww2dbaseIn 1934, however, the Germans signed a non-aggression pact with Poland, providing a kind of breathing space for both countries. German efforts to woo Poland into an anti-Soviet alliance were politely deferred as Poland attempted to keep her distance from both powerful neighbors. As German power began to grow, however, and Hitler increasingly threatened his neighbors, the Poles and French began to revitalize their alliance.

ww2dbaseThe Munich Pact dramatically increased Poland’s danger. At the last minute, the Poles and Czechs had attempted to patch up their differences. The Czechs would give up disputed territory taken in 1919 and half ownership in the Skoda arms works in exchange for Polish military intervention in the case of German attack. The Munich Pact, however, closed this option and Poland sent its troops to forcibly occupy the territory of Teschen and the nearby Bohumin rail junction to keep it out of German hands.

ww2dbaseAfter Hitler violated the Munich treaty, Poland was able to extract guarantees of military assistance from France, and significantly, Britain. In March 1939, Hitler began to make demands on Poland for the return of territory in the Polish Corridor, cessation of Polish rights in Danzig, and annexation of the Free City to Germany. These Poland categorically rejected. As negotiations continued, both sides prepared for war.

ww2dbaseEditor’s addition: German demands sent to Poland on 25 Aug 1939 were the following.

  • The return of Danzig to Germany
  • Rail and road access across the corridor between Germany and East Prussia
  • The cession to Germany any Polish territory formerly of pre-WW1 Germany that hosted 75% or more ethnic Germans
  • An international board to discuss the cession of the Polish Corridor to Germany

ww2dbaseHitler, however, again altered the strategic landscape again in August 1939 when Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact which contained secret protocols designed to partition Poland and divide up most of eastern Europe between the two dictators.

ww2dbaseStrategic Considerations

ww2dbasePoland’s strategic position in 1939 was weak, but not hopeless. German control over Slovakia added significantly to Poland’s already overly long frontier. German forces could attack Poland from virtually any direction.

ww2dbasePoland’s major weakness, however, was its lack of a modernized military. In the 1920s, Poland had had the world’s first all-metal air force, but had since fallen behind other powers. Poland was a poor, agrarian nation without significant industry. While Polish weapons design was often equal or superior to German and Soviet design, it simply lacked the capacity to produce equipment in the needed quantities. One example was the P-37 Łos bomber, which at start of the war was the world’s best medium bomber. Another example was the “Ur” anti-tank rifle which was the first weapon to use tungsten-core ammunition.

ww2dbaseTo motorize a single division to German standards would have required use of all the civilian cars and trucks in the country. This occurred despite heroic efforts by Polish society to create a modern military which included fundraising among civilians and the Polish communities in the USA to buy modern equipment. As a percentage of GNP, Polish defense spending in the 1930s was second in Europe, behind the Soviet Union but ahead of Germany. Yet, in real dollar terms, the budget of the Luftwaffe alone in 1939 was ten times greater than the entire Polish defense budget. Yet even this did not give the full picture, since the Polish defense budget included money to upgrade roads and bridges and to build arms factories.

ww2dbaseThe Polish leadership was also hamstrung by political rifts and by the legacy of Pilsudski’s authoritarian rule which had retarded the development of modern strategic thinking and command. The top leadership was held by Marshal Edward Smigly-Rydz, who had been an able corps commander in 1920 but lacked the ability to command a complex modern army. Yet there were many able officers, such as Gen. Tadeusz Kutrzeba and Gen. Kazimierz Sosnkowski. Although overburdened by military brass, Poland had a solid corps of junior officers. The Polish Air Force, by contrast, was a very strong service.

ww2dbasePoland’s one major advantage was in intelligence, beginning in the early 1930s, a group of young mathematicians had managed to break the German military codes of the supposedly unbreakable Enigma encoding machine. Until 1938, virtually all German radio traffic could be read by Polish intelligence. Thereafter, the Germans began to add new wrinkles to their systems, complicating the task. On the eve of the war, the Poles could read about ten percent ofWehrmacht and Luftwaffe traffic and nothing from the Kriegsmarine. However, the German military police frequencies continued to use the older system and were fully readable. This was augmented by human intelligence efforts. By September 1, 1939, the Polish high command knew the location and disposition of 90 percent of German combat units on the eastern front.

ww2dbasePolish doctrine had developed during the Polish-Soviet War and emphasized maneuver with little reliance placed on static defenses, aside from a few key points. Unfortunately, the Polish army’s ability to maneuver was far less than the more mechanized German army.

ww2dbaseMuch mythology surrounds Poland’s use of cavalry, mostly due to Nazi propaganda absorbed by Western historians. About 10 percent of the Polish army was horse cavalry, a smaller percentage than the U.S. army in 1939. Poland had more tanks than Italy, a country with a well developed automotive industry. Polish cavalry were used as form of mobile infantry and rarely fought mounted, and never with lances. The cavalry attracted high-caliber recruits and the forces trained alongside tanks and possessed greater tank-fighting ability than comparable infantry units. Their use was also envisioned in any conflict with the USSR in eastern Poland where the terrain was mainly forest, swamp, and mountain.

ww2dbasePoland’s primary strategic goal was to draw France and Britain into the war on her side in the event of an attack by Germany. Poland’s defense strategy in 1939, developed by Gen. Kutrzeba, envisioned a fighting withdrawal to the southeastern part of the country, the “Rumanian bridgehead.” There, the high command stockpiled reserve supplies of equipment and fuel. In the rougher terrain north of the Rumanian and Hungarian borders, the army would make its stand. If all went well, an Anglo-French counterattack in the west would reduce German pressure and Polish forces could be re-supplied by the allies through friendly Rumania.

ww2dbaseHitler’s political tactics, however, forced a modification of this plan. Fearing the Germans might attempt to seize the Polish Corridor or Danzig and then declare the war over, Polish forces were ordered closer to the border to ensure that any German attack would be immediately engaged in major combat. In so doing they would ensure that Poland’s allies could not wriggle out of their treaty obligations.

ww2dbaseFor its part, Germany’s planners sought to deliver a rapid knock out blow to Poland within the first two weeks. German forces would launch deep armored attacks into Poland along two main routes: ?od?-Piotrkow-Warsaw and from Prussia across the Narew River into eastern Mazovia. There would be secondary attacks in the south and against the Polish coastal defenses in the north. The primary objective would be to cut off Polish forces in northern and western Poland and seize the capital. [Editor’s addition: To further deter France from entering the soon-to-begin German-Polish conflict, Hitler made several public visits to the West Wall on the German-French border beginning from Aug 1938 to survey the construction of bunkers, blockhouses, and other fortifications. The Nazi propaganda machine elaborated on these visits to form a picture of an invincible defensive line to deter French attacks when Germany invades Poland.]

ww2dbaseOpposing Forces

ww2dbaseOn paper, Poland’s full mobilized army would have numbered about 2.5 million. Due to allied pressure and mismanagement, however, only about 600,000 Polish troops were in place to meet the German invasion on September 1, 1939. These forces were organized into 7 armies and 5 independent operational groups. The typical Polish infantry division was roughly equal in numbers to its German counterpart, but weaker in terms of anti-tank guns, artillery support, and transport. Poland had 30 active and 7 reserve divisions. In addition there were 12 cavalry brigades and one mechanized cavalry brigade. These forces were supplemented by units of the Border Defense Corps (KOP), an elite force designed to secure the frontiers from infiltration and engage in small unit actions, diversion, sabotage, and intelligence gathering. There was also a National Guard used for local defense and equipped with older model weapons. Armored train groups and river flotillas operated under army command.

ww2dbaseGerman forces were organized in two Army Groups, with a total of 5 armies. The Germans fielded about 1.8 million troops. The Germans had 2600 tanks against the Polish 180, and over 2,000 aircraft against the Polish 420. German forces were supplemented by a Slovak brigade.

ww2dbaseOpening Moves

ww2dbaseArmed clashes along the border became increasingly frequent in August 1939 as Abwehr operations worked to penetrate Polish forward areas and were opposed by the Polish Border Defense Corps, an elite unit originally designed to halt Soviet penetration of the eastern frontier. These clashes alarmed the French who urged the Poles to avoid “provoking” Hitler.

ww2dbasePolish forces had been partly mobilized in secret in the summer of 1939. Full mobilization was to be declared in late August, but was halted at French insistence. Mobilization was again declared on August 30, but halted to French threats to withhold assistance, and then re-issued the following day. As a result of this, only about a third of Polish forces were equipped and in place on Sept. 1.

ww2dbaseOn August 31, operational Polish air units were dispersed to secret airfields. The navy’s three most modern destroyers executed Operation Peking and slipped out of the Baltic Sea to join the Royal Navy. Polish submarines dispersed to commence minelaying operations.

ww2dbaseAs Hitler gathered his generals, he ordered them to “kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of Polish descent or language… only in this way can we achieve the living space we need.” Mobile killing squadsEinsatzgruppen would follow the main body of troops, shooting POWs and any Poles who might organize resistance. On the night of August 31, Nazi agents staged a mock Polish attack on a German radio station in Silesia, dressing concentration camp prisoners in Polish uniforms and then shooting them. Hitler declared that Germany would respond to “Polish aggression.”

ww2dbaseThe invasion began at 4.45 A.M. The battleship Schleswig-Holstein was moored at the port of the Free City of Danzig on a “courtesy visit” near the Polish military transit station of Westerplatte. The station was on a sandy, narrow peninsula in the harbor, garrisoned by a small force of 182 men. At quarter to five on September 1, 1939, the giant guns of the battleship opened up on the Polish outpost at point-blank range. As dawn broke, Danzig SS men advanced on Westerplatte expecting to find only the pulverized remains of the Polish garrison. Instead, they found the defenders very much alive. In moments the German attack was cut to pieces. Further attacks followed. Polish defenders dueled the mighty battleship with a small field gun. At the Polish Post Office in Danzig, postal workers and Polish boy scouts held off Nazi forces for most of the day before surrendering. The post office defenders were summarily executed. A similar fate awaited Polish railway workers south of the city after they foiled an attempt to use an armored train to seize a bridge over the Vistula.

ww2dbaseBattle for the Borders

ww2dbaseGerman forces and their Danzig and Slovak allies attacked Poland across most sectors of the border. In the north, they attacked the Polish Corridor. In southern and central Poland, Nazi armored spearheads attacked toward Łódź and Kraków. In the skies, German planes commenced terror bombing of cities and villages. Nazi armies massacred civilians and used women and children as human shields. Everywhere were scenes of savage fighting and unbelievable carnage. Polish forces defending the borders gave a good account of themselves. At Mokra, near Częstochowa, the Nazi 4th Panzer Division attacked two regiments of the Wolynska Cavalry Brigade. The Polish defenders drew the Germans into a tank trap and destroyed over 50 tanks and armored cars.

ww2dbaseThe battle in the Polish Corridor was especially intense. It was here that the myth of the Polish cavalry charging German tanks was born. As Gen. Heinz Guderian’s panzer and motorized forces pressed the weaker Polish forces back, a unit of Pomorska Cavalry Brigade slipped through German lines late in the day on Sept. 1 in an effort to counterattack and slow the German advance. The unit happened on a German infantry battalion making camp. The Polish cavalry mounted a saber charge, sending the Germans fleeing at that moment, a group of German armored cars arrived on the scene and opened fire on the cavalry, killing several troopers and forcing the rest to retreat. Nazi propagandists made this into “cavalry charging tanks” and even made a movie to embellish their claims. While historians remembered the propaganda, they forgot that on September 1, Gen. Guderian had to personally intervene to stop the German 20th motorized division from retreating under what it described as “intense cavalry pressure.” This pressure was being applied by the Polish 18th Lancer Regiment, a unit one tenth its size.

ww2dbaseWhere the Poles were in position, they usually got the better of the fight, but due to the delay in mobilization, their forces were too few to defend all sectors. The effectiveness of German mechanized forces proved to be their ability to bypass Polish strong points, cutting them off and isolating them. By September 3, although the country was cheered by the news that France and Britain had declared war on Germany, the Poles were unable to contain the Nazi breakthroughs. Army Łódź, despite furious resistance, was pushed back and lost contact with its neighboring armies. German tanks drove through the gap directly toward Warsaw. In the Polish Corridor, Polish forces tried to stage a fighting withdrawal but suffered heavy losses to German tanks and dive bombers. In the air, the outnumbered Polish fighter command fought with skill and courage, especially around Warsaw. Nevertheless, Nazi aircraft systematically targeted Polish civilians, especially refugees. Bombing and shelling sent tens of thousands of people fleeing for their lives, crowding the roads, hindering military traffic.

ww2dbaseEditor’s addition: Realizing that escaping civilians crowded up important transportation routes and disrupted Polish military movement, the Germans began to broadcast fake Polish news programs that either falsely reported the position of German armies or to encourage civilians of certain areas to evacuate. With both methods, the Germans were able to exploit the fear of the Polish civilians and render Polish transportation systems nearly useless.

ww2dbaseThe effects of the Poles’ lack of mobility and the fateful decision to position forces closer to the border now began to tell. On September 5, the Polish High Command, fearing Warsaw was threatened, decided to relocate to southeastern Poland. This proved a huge mistake as the commanders soon lost contact with their major field armies. Warsaw itself was thrown into panic at the news.

ww2dbaseResistance Stiffens

ww2dbaseAlthough the situation was grim, it was not yet hopeless. Following the High Command’s departure, the mayor of Warsaw Stefan Starzyński and General Walerian Czuma rallied the city’s defenders. Citizen volunteers built barricades and trenches. An initial German attack on the city’s outskirts was repulsed.

ww2dbaseThe fast German advance took little account of Army Poznań under the command of Gen. Kutrzeba which had been bypassed on the Nazis’ quick drive toward Warsaw. On September 8-9, Army Poznań counterattacked from the north against the flank of the German forces moving on Warsaw. The Nazi advance halted in the face of the initial Polish success on the River Bzura. The Nazis’ superiority in tanks and aircraft, however, allowed them to regroup and stop Army Poznań’s southward push. The counterattack turned into a battle of encirclement. Although some forces managed to escape to Warsaw, by September 13, the Battle of Bzura was over and Polish forces destroyed. The delay, however, had allowed Warsaw to marshal its defenses, turning the perimeter of the city into a series of makeshift forts. In the south, German forces had captured Kraków early in the campaign but their advance slowed down as they approached Lwow. The defenders of Westerplatte had surrendered after seven days of fighting against overwhelming odds, but the city of Gdynia and the Hel Peninsula still held as Polish coastal batteries kept German warships at bay.

ww2dbaseBy the middle of September, Polish losses had been severe and the German advance had captured half of the country. The high command’s fateful decision to leave Warsaw had resulted in more than a week of confusion, rescued only by the courage of Army Poznań’s doomed counterattack. By the middle of September, however, Polish defenses were stiffening. Local commanders and army-level generals now directed defenses around the key bastions of Warsaw, the Seacoast, and Lwow. German losses began to rise (reaching their peak during the third week of the campaign). Small Polish units isolated by the rapid advance regrouped and struck at vulnerable rear-area forces.

ww2dbaseBlack September

ww2dbaseThis thin ray of hope, however, was extinguished on September 17 when Red Army forces crossed Poland’s eastern border as Stalin moved to assist his Nazi ally and to seize his share of Polish territory. Nearly all Polish troops had been withdrawn from the eastern border to fight the Nazi onslaught. Only a few units of the Border Defense Corps aided by local volunteers stood in the way of Stalin’s might. Although often outnumbered 100 to 1, these forces refused to surrender.

ww2dbaseOne such force commanded by Lt. Jan Bolbot was attacked by tens of thousands of Red Army troops in their bunkers near Sarny. Bolbot’s surrounded men mowed down thousands of Soviet attackers who advanced in human waves. Finally, communist forces piled debris around the bunkers and set them on fire. Lt. Bolbot, who remained in telephone contact with his commander, reported that the neighboring bunker had been breached and he could see hand to hand fighting there. He told his commander that his own bunker was on fire and filling with thick smoke but all his men were still at their posts and shooting back. Then the line went dead. The entire Sarny garrison fought to the last man. Bolbot was posthumously awarded the Virtuti Militari, Poland’s highest military decoration.

ww2dbasePolish defenses in the southeast fell apart as formations were ordered to fall back across the relatively friendly Rumanian and Hungarian borders to avoid capture. Fighting raged around Warsaw, the fortress of Modlin, and on the seacoast. On September 28, Warsaw capitulated. Polish forces on the Hel Peninsula staved off surrender until October 1. In the marshes of east central Poland, Group Polesie continued to mount effective resistance until October 5. When this final organized force gave up, its ammunition was gone and its active duty soldiers were outnumbered by the prisoners it had taken.

ww2dbaseThroughout the first two and half weeks of September 1939, Germany threw its entire air force, all of panzer forces, and all of its frontline infantry and artillery against Poland. Its border with France was held by a relatively thin force of second and third string divisions. The French army, from its secure base behind the Maginot Line, had overwhelming superiority in men, tanks, aircraft, and artillery. A concerted push into western Germany would have been a disaster for Hitler. Yet the French stood aside and did nothing. The British were equally inactive, sending their bombers to drop propaganda leaflets over a few German cities. Had the Allies acted, the bloodiest and most terrible war in human history could have been averted.

ww2dbaseManaging Editor C. Peter Chen’s Addition

ww2dbaseThe Western Betrayal

ww2dbaseSince Britain and France had given Germany a freehand in annexing Czechoslovakia, some people of Central and Eastern Europe placed a distrust on the democratic nations of Western Europe. They used the word “betrayal” to describe their western allies who failed to fulfill their treaty responsibilities to stand by the countries they swore to protect. Britain and France’s lack of initial response to the German invasion convinced them that their western allies had indeed betrayed them.

ww2dbaseBritain simply did not wish to give up the notion that Germany could be courted as a powerful ally. After a note was sent from London to Berlin regarding to the invasion of her ally, Lord Halifax followed up by sending British Ambassador in Berlin Nevile Henderson a note stating that the note was “in the nature of a warning and is not to be considered as an ultimatum.” Deep in its pacifist fantasies, Britain did not consider the violation of her allies borders a valid cause for war. France’s response to the invasion was similar, expressing a willingness to negotiate though refusing to send any deadline for a German response. At 1930 London time on 1 Sep 1939, the British parliament gathered for a statement from Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, expecting a declaration of war as dictated by the terms of the pact between Britain and Poland, or minimally the announcement of an ultimatum for Berlin. Instead, Chamberlain noted that Hitler was a busy man and might not had the time to review the note from Berlin yet. When he sat down after his speech, there were no cheers; even the parliament characterized by its support for appeasement was stunned by Chamberlain’s lack of action.

ww2dbaseAs Britain and France idled, the German Luftwaffe bombed Polish cities. They submitted messages to Berlin noting that if German troops were withdrawn, they were willing to forget the whole ordeal and return things to the status quo. It was a clear violation of the military pacts that they had signed with Poland. Finally, on 3 Sep, after thousands of Polish military and civilian personnel had already perished, Britain declared war on Germany at 1115. France followed suit at 1700 on the same day. Even after they had declared war, however, the sentiment did not steer far from that of appeasement. The two western Allies remained mostly idle. While Poland desperately requested the French Army to advance into Germany to tie down German divisions and requested Britain to bomb German industrial centers, Britain and especially France did nothing in fear of German reprisals. In one of the biggest “what-if” scenarios of WW2, even Wilhelm Keitel noted that had France reacted by conducting a full-scale invasion of Germany, Germany would have fallen immediately. “We soldiers always expected an attack by France during the Polish campaign, and were very surprised that nothing happened…. A French attack would have encountered only a German military screen, not a real defense”, he said. The invasion was not mounted; instead, token advances were made under the order of Maurice Gamelin of France, where a few divisions marched into Saarbrücken and immediately withdrawn. The minor French expedition was embellished in Gamelin’s communique as an invasion, and falsely gave the impression that France was fully committed and was meeting stiff German resistance. While the Polish ambassy in London reported several times that Polish civilians were being targeted by German aerial attacks, Britain continued to insist that the German military had been attacking only military targets.

ww2dbaseSource: The Last Lion

ww2dbaseOccupation and Escape

ww2dbaseBoth German and Soviet occupations began with murder and brutality. Many prisoners of war were executed on the spot or later during the war. Countless civilians were also shot or sent to concentration camps, including political leaders, clergy, boy scouts, professors, teachers, government officials, doctors, and professional athletes. Among them was Mayor Starzynski of Warsaw who had rallied his city to resist the Nazi onslaught. In the German sector, Jews were singled out for special brutality.

ww2dbaseMany small army units continued to fight from remote forests. Among the most famous was the legendary “Major Hubal,” the pseudonym of Major Henryk Dobrzański. Major Hubal and his band of 70-100 men waged unrelenting guerilla warfare on both occupiers until they were cornered by German forces in April 1940 and wiped out. Hubal’s body was burned by the Germans and buried in secret so he would not become a martyr, but others soon took his place.

ww2dbasePOWs captured by the Germans were to be sent to labor and prison camps. Many soldiers escaped and disappeared into the local population. Those who remained in German custody were frequently abused, used for slave labor, or shot. POWs captured by the Soviets suffered an even worse fate. Officers were separated from the enlisted men and an estimated 22,000 were massacred by the Soviets. Enlisted men were often sent to Siberian gulags where many died.

ww2dbaseLarge numbers of Polish soldiers had fled into neighboring Hungary and Rumania where they were interned. While both countries were officially allied to Germany, both had strong sympathy for the Poles. This was especially true in Hungary. Polish soldiers began to disappear from internment camps as bribable or sympathetic guards and officials pretended to look the other way. Individually and in small groups, they made their way to France and Britain. German diplomats raged at their Hungarian and Rumanian counterparts, but officials in neither country had much interest in enforcing Berlin’s decrees. As a result, within months a new Polish army had begun to form in the West.

ww2dbaseSources: Steven Zaloga and Victor Madej, The Polish Campaign, 1939 (1985)
John Radzilowski, Traveller’s History of Poland (2006)
E. Kozlowski, Wojna Obronna Polski, 1939 (1979)
Jan Gross, Revolution from Abroad (1988)

 

Invasion of Poland Timeline

3 Apr 1939 Adolf Hitler, on his own authority, ordered the armed forces to prepare “Case White” for the invasion and occupation of the whole of Poland later in the summer.
7 May 1939 German Generals Rundstedt, Manstein, and other General Staff members presented to Hitler an invasion plan for Danzig and Poland.
15 Jun 1939 The German Army presented a plan to Adolf Hitler for the invasion of Poland, with much of the strategy focusing on concentrated surprise attacks to quickly eliminate Polish opposition.
10 Aug 1939 Reinhard Heydrich ordered SS Officer Alfred Naujocks to fake an attack on a radio station near Gleiwitz, Germany, which was on the border with Poland. “Practical proof is needed for these attacks of the Poles for the foreign press as well as German propaganda”, said Heydrich, according to Naujocks.
14 Aug 1939 Adolf Hitler announced to his top military commanders that Germany was to enter in a war with Poland at the end of Aug 1939, and that the United Kingdom and France would not enter the fray, especially if Poland could be decisively wiped out in a week or two.
17 Aug 1939 The Germany military was ordered to supply the SS organization with 150 Polish Army uniforms.
22 Aug 1939 With a non-aggression pact nearly secured with the Soviet Union, German leader Adolf Hitler ordered the Polish invasion to commence on 26 Aug 1939. He told his top military commanders to be brutal and show no compassion in the upcoming war.
24 Aug 1939 In Berlin, Germany, journalist William Shirer noted in his diary “it looks like war” based on his observations throughout the day.
25 Aug 1939 In the morning, Adolf Hitler sent a message to Benito Mussolini, noting that the reason why Italy was not informed of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was because Hitler had not imagined the negotiations would conclude so quickly. He also revealed to him that war was to commence soon, but failed to let him know that the planned invasion date was on the following day. Later on the same day, however, Hitler hesitated in the face of the Anglo-Polish mutual defense agreement; he would quickly decide to postpone the invasion date. Meanwhile, in Berlin, Germany, journalist William Shirer noted in his diary that war seems to be imminent.
26 Aug 1939 Some German units ordered to lead the invasion of Poland, originally planned for this date, did not receive the message that the invasion had been postponed in the previous evening and crossed the borders, attacking Polish defenses with rifles, machine guns, and grenades; they would be withdrawn back into Germany within hours. Because Poland had experienced so much German provocation in the past few days, Polish leadership brushed off the attacks as another series of provocation, despite having reports that the attacks wore regular uniforms. In the late afternoon, Adolf Hitler set the new invasion date at 1 Sep 1939.
28 Aug 1939 Citizens in Berlin, Germany observed troops moving toward the east.
29 Aug 1939 Adolf Hitler summoned the three leading representatives of the German armed forces, Walther von Brauchitsch, Hermann Göring, and Erich Raeder together with senior Army commanders to his mountain villa at Obersalzberg in southern Germany, where he announced the details of the recently-signed Soviet-German non-aggression pact, the plan to isolate and destroy Poland, and the formation of a buffer state in conquered Poland against the Soviet Union.
31 Aug 1939 The formal order for the German invasion of Poland was given; specific instructions were made for German troops on the western border to avoid conflict with the United Kingdom, France, and the Low Countries.
1 Sep 1939 Using the staged Gleiwitz radio station attack as an excuse, Germany declared war on Poland. Meanwhile, the radio station in Minsk, Byelorussia increased the frequency of station identification and extended its playing time in an attempt to help German aviators navigate. Among the opening acts of the European War, the German Luftwaffe bombed the town of Wielu in Poland, causing 1,200 civilian casualties.
2 Sep 1939 During the day, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier issued a joint ultimatum to Germany, demanding the withdraw of troops from Poland within 12 hours. During the late hours of the night, Chamberlain attempted to convince Dalalier to carry out the threat from the earlier ultimatum by declaring war on Germany early in the next morning.
3 Sep 1939 At 0900 hours, British Ambassador in Germany Nevile Henderson delivered the British declaration of war to German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, effective at 1100 hours; British Commonwealth nations of New Zealand and Australia followed suit. France would also declare war later on this day, effective at 1700 hours. In the afternoon, Adolf Hitler issued an order to his generals, again stressing that German troops must not attack British and French positions. Finally, Hitler also sent a message to the Soviet Union, asking the Soviets to jointly invade Poland.
3 Sep 1939 At 1115 hours, British Prime Minsiter Neville Chamberlain announced over radio that because Germany had failed to withdraw troops from Poland by 1100 hours, a state of war now existed between the United Kingdom and Germany.
5 Sep 1939 German Army units crossed the Vistula River in Poland. Meanwhile, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov responded to the German invitation to jointly invade Poland in the positive, but noted that the Soviet forces would need several days to prepare; he also warned the Germans not to cross the previously agreed upon line separating German and Soviet spheres of influence.
6 Sep 1939 German troops captured the Upper Silesian industrial area in Poland.
7 Sep 1939 German troops captured Kraków, Poland.
8 Sep 1939 German troops neared the suburbs of Warsaw, and the Polish government evacuated to Lublin.
8 Sep 1939 Polish defenders at Westerplatte, Danzig surrendered.
9 Sep 1939 Battle of the Bzura, also known as Battle of Kutno to the Germans, began; it was to become the largest battle in the Poland campaign. Elsewhere, German forces captured Lodz and Radom. South of Radom, Stuka dive-bombers of Colonel Gunter Schwarzkopff’s St.G.77 finished off the great Polish attempt to cross the Vistula River, crushing the last pockets of resistance in conjunction with tanks; “Wherever they went”, reported one Stuka pilot after the action, “we came across throngs of Polish troops, against which our 110-lb fragmentation bombs were deadly. After that we went almost down to the deck firing our machine guns. The confusion was indescribable.” At Warsaw, German attempts to enter the city were repulsed. In Moscow, Russia, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov informed the German ambassador that Soviet forces would be ready to attack Poland within a few days.
10 Sep 1939 German troops made a breakthrough near Kutno and Sandomierz in Poland.
13 Sep 1939 The 60,000 survivors in the Radom Pocket in Poland surrendered.
15 Sep 1939 German troops captured Gdynia, Poland. Meanwhile, Polish troops failed to break out of the Kutno Pocket. At Warsaw, with it surrounded by German troops, the Polish Army was ordered to the Romanian border to hold out until the Allies arrive; the Romanian government offered asylum to all Polish civilians who could make it across the border; Polish military personnel who crossed the border, however, would be interned. In Berlin, Germany, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop asked the Soviet Union for a definite date and time when Soviet forces would attack Poland.
16 Sep 1939 Polish troops counterattacked, destroying 22 tanks of Leibstandarte SS “Adolf Hitler” regiment. Elsewhere in Poland, German troops captured Brest-Litovsk (now in Belarus). In Moscow, Russia, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov proposed that the Soviet Union would enter the war with the reason of protection of Ukrainians and Byelorussians; Germany complained that it singled out Germany as the lone aggressor.
17 Sep 1939 In Poland, German troops captured Kutno west of Warsaw. East of Warsaw, Heinz Guderian’s XIX Panzerkorps of Army Group North made contact with XXII Panzerkorps of Army Group South, just to the south of Brest-Litovsk; virtually the whole Polish Army (or what remained of it) was now trapped within a gigantic double pincer. In Russia, Joseph Stalin declared that the government of Poland no longer existed, thus all treaties between the two states were no longer valid; Soviet troops poured across the border to join Germany in the invasion, ostensibly to protect Ukrainian and Byelorussian interests from potential German aggression.
18 Sep 1939 A Soviet-German joint victory parade was held in Brest-Litovsk in Eastern Poland (now in Belarus).
19 Sep 1939 West of Warsaw, Poland, at the bend of the Vistula River, German troops imprisoned 170,000 Polish troops as they surrendered.
20 Sep 1939 German General Johannes Blaskowitz noted in his order of the day that, at the Battle of the Bzura in Poland, also known as Battle of Kutno to the Germans, his troops was fighting “in one of the biggest and most destructive battles of all times.” Elsewhere, German troops withdrew to the agreed demarcation line in Poland, with Soviet forces moving in behind them. Finally, also on this day, the remaining Polish garrison in Grodno managed to kill 800 Soviet troops and at least 10 tanks.
21 Sep 1939 60,000 survivors of the Polish Southern Army surrendered at Tomaszov and Zamosz, Poland.
22 Sep 1939 Battle of the Bzura, also known as Battle of Kutno to the Germans, ended in Polish defeat; it was the largest battle of the Polish campaign during which more than 18,000 Polish troops and about 8,000 German troops were killed. At Lvov, over 210,000 Poles surrender to the Soviets, but at the Battle of Kodziowce the Soviets suffered heavy casualties. Also on this day, the Soviet NKVD began gathering Polish officers for deportation.
23 Sep 1939 German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop expressed approval for the Soviet proposal on the partition of Poland. Meanwhile, at Krasnobrod, Poland, three squadrons of the Nowgrodek Cavalry Brigade attacked and surprised the German 8th Infantry Division which had entrenched on a hill. The German made a disorderly retreat to a nearby town, hotly pursued by the Polish cavalry. Despite heavy losses from machine-gun fire the Poles secured the town, capturing the German divisional headquarters including General Rudolf Koch-Erpach and about 100 other German soldiers. In addition forty Polish prisoners were freed. During the action Lieutenant Tadeusz Gerlecki, commanding the second squadron, defeated a German cavalry unit – one of the last battles in military history between opposing cavalry.
25 Sep 1939 Warsaw, Poland suffered heavy Luftwaffe bombing and artillery bombardment as Adolf Hitler arrived to observe the attack. To the east, Soviet troops captured Bialystok, Poland. Meanwhile, Joseph Stalin proposed to the Germans that the Soviet Union would take Lithuania which was previously within the German sphere of influence; in exchange, the Soviets would give the portions of Poland near Warsaw which were previously within the Soviet sphere of influence but had already been overrun by German troops.
27 Sep 1939 Warsaw, Poland fell to the Germans after two weeks of siege. Near Grabowiec, Soviets executed 150 Polish policemen.
28 Sep 1939 At Brest-Litovsk, Poland (now Belarus), Germans and Soviets signed the agreement denoting their common border in Poland.
29 Sep 1939 With the formal surrender of Poland, including the last 35,000 besieged troops in Modlin, the Germany and Soviet Union finished dividing up Poland.
6 Oct 1939 The final Polish forces surrendered near Kock and Lublin after fighting both Germans and Soviets.
10 Oct 1939 Adolf Hitler announced the victorious end to the Polish campaign and called on France and England to end hostilities, which was ignored by both governments.
30 Oct 1939 An act was signed in Moscow, Russia which formally annexed occupied Polish territories.

 

Photographs

Polish soldiers marching, circa 1939 German battleship Schleswig-Holstein bombarding Westerplatte, Danzig, 1 Sep 1939. Photo 1 of 2.

ww2dbasePoland had been reborn as an independent nation after World War I and the collapse of Austria-Hungary, Russia, and Germany. Polish borders had been partly re-established by the Versailles Treaty but a series of armed conflicts with Germany, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, and Ukrainian nationalists, as well as a major war with the Soviet Union, gave the borders their final shape.

ww2dbaseDuring the course of the Polish-Soviet War (1919-20), Poland had been forced to rely on her own resources as help from the Western Allies had been slow in coming or had actively blocked by pro-communist unions in Europe. Because of the Polish-Soviet war and continuing Soviet efforts at infiltration thereafter, Polish military and political planning focused primarily on a future conflict with the Soviets. To this end, the Poles developed alliances with Rumania and Latvia. Poland’s policy toward Germany was based on her alliance with France, but Polish-Czech relations remained cool. The problem with the French alliance, as far as the Poles were concerned, was the instability in French politics which resulted in constant indecision about the eastern alliances. As governments rose and fell in regular succession, French policies toward Poland and other allies changed.

ww2dbaseGerman military leaders had begun planning for war with Poland as early as the mid 1920s. Recovering the ethnically Polish territory of Pomerania, Poznan, and Silesia, as well as the largely German Free City of Danzig were the major objectives. Nevertheless, the restrictions of Versailles and Germany’s internal weakness made such plans impossible to realize. Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 capitalized on German’s desire to regain lost territories, to which Nazi leaders added the goal of destroying an independent Poland. According to author Alexander Rossino, prior to the war Hitler was at least as anti-Polish as anti-Semitic in his opinions. That same year, Poland’s Marshal Jozef Pilsudski proposed to the French a plan for a joint invasion to remove Hitler from power, which the French vetoed as mad warmongering.

ww2dbaseIn 1934, however, the Germans signed a non-aggression pact with Poland, providing a kind of breathing space for both countries. German efforts to woo Poland into an anti-Soviet alliance were politely deferred as Poland attempted to keep her distance from both powerful neighbors. As German power began to grow, however, and Hitler increasingly threatened his neighbors, the Poles and French began to revitalize their alliance.

ww2dbaseThe Munich Pact dramatically increased Poland’s danger. At the last minute, the Poles and Czechs had attempted to patch up their differences. The Czechs would give up disputed territory taken in 1919 and half ownership in the Skoda arms works in exchange for Polish military intervention in the case of German attack. The Munich Pact, however, closed this option and Poland sent its troops to forcibly occupy the territory of Teschen and the nearby Bohumin rail junction to keep it out of German hands.

ww2dbaseAfter Hitler violated the Munich treaty, Poland was able to extract guarantees of military assistance from France, and significantly, Britain. In March 1939, Hitler began to make demands on Poland for the return of territory in the Polish Corridor, cessation of Polish rights in Danzig, and annexation of the Free City to Germany. These Poland categorically rejected. As negotiations continued, both sides prepared for war.

ww2dbaseEditor’s addition: German demands sent to Poland on 25 Aug 1939 were the following.

  • The return of Danzig to Germany
  • Rail and road access across the corridor between Germany and East Prussia
  • The cession to Germany any Polish territory formerly of pre-WW1 Germany that hosted 75% or more ethnic Germans
  • An international board to discuss the cession of the Polish Corridor to Germany

ww2dbaseHitler, however, again altered the strategic landscape again in August 1939 when Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact which contained secret protocols designed to partition Poland and divide up most of eastern Europe between the two dictators.

ww2dbaseStrategic Considerations

ww2dbasePoland’s strategic position in 1939 was weak, but not hopeless. German control over Slovakia added significantly to Poland’s already overly long frontier. German forces could attack Poland from virtually any direction.

ww2dbasePoland’s major weakness, however, was its lack of a modernized military. In the 1920s, Poland had had the world’s first all-metal air force, but had since fallen behind other powers. Poland was a poor, agrarian nation without significant industry. While Polish weapons design was often equal or superior to German and Soviet design, it simply lacked the capacity to produce equipment in the needed quantities. One example was the P-37 Łos bomber, which at start of the war was the world’s best medium bomber. Another example was the “Ur” anti-tank rifle which was the first weapon to use tungsten-core ammunition.

ww2dbaseTo motorize a single division to German standards would have required use of all the civilian cars and trucks in the country. This occurred despite heroic efforts by Polish society to create a modern military which included fundraising among civilians and the Polish communities in the USA to buy modern equipment. As a percentage of GNP, Polish defense spending in the 1930s was second in Europe, behind the Soviet Union but ahead of Germany. Yet, in real dollar terms, the budget of the Luftwaffe alone in 1939 was ten times greater than the entire Polish defense budget. Yet even this did not give the full picture, since the Polish defense budget included money to upgrade roads and bridges and to build arms factories.

ww2dbaseThe Polish leadership was also hamstrung by political rifts and by the legacy of Pilsudski’s authoritarian rule which had retarded the development of modern strategic thinking and command. The top leadership was held by Marshal Edward Smigly-Rydz, who had been an able corps commander in 1920 but lacked the ability to command a complex modern army. Yet there were many able officers, such as Gen. Tadeusz Kutrzeba and Gen. Kazimierz Sosnkowski. Although overburdened by military brass, Poland had a solid corps of junior officers. The Polish Air Force, by contrast, was a very strong service.

ww2dbasePoland’s one major advantage was in intelligence, beginning in the early 1930s, a group of young mathematicians had managed to break the German military codes of the supposedly unbreakable Enigma encoding machine. Until 1938, virtually all German radio traffic could be read by Polish intelligence. Thereafter, the Germans began to add new wrinkles to their systems, complicating the task. On the eve of the war, the Poles could read about ten percent ofWehrmacht and Luftwaffe traffic and nothing from the Kriegsmarine. However, the German military police frequencies continued to use the older system and were fully readable. This was augmented by human intelligence efforts. By September 1, 1939, the Polish high command knew the location and disposition of 90 percent of German combat units on the eastern front.

ww2dbasePolish doctrine had developed during the Polish-Soviet War and emphasized maneuver with little reliance placed on static defenses, aside from a few key points. Unfortunately, the Polish army’s ability to maneuver was far less than the more mechanized German army.

ww2dbaseMuch mythology surrounds Poland’s use of cavalry, mostly due to Nazi propaganda absorbed by Western historians. About 10 percent of the Polish army was horse cavalry, a smaller percentage than the U.S. army in 1939. Poland had more tanks than Italy, a country with a well developed automotive industry. Polish cavalry were used as form of mobile infantry and rarely fought mounted, and never with lances. The cavalry attracted high-caliber recruits and the forces trained alongside tanks and possessed greater tank-fighting ability than comparable infantry units. Their use was also envisioned in any conflict with the USSR in eastern Poland where the terrain was mainly forest, swamp, and mountain.

ww2dbasePoland’s primary strategic goal was to draw France and Britain into the war on her side in the event of an attack by Germany. Poland’s defense strategy in 1939, developed by Gen. Kutrzeba, envisioned a fighting withdrawal to the southeastern part of the country, the “Rumanian bridgehead.” There, the high command stockpiled reserve supplies of equipment and fuel. In the rougher terrain north of the Rumanian and Hungarian borders, the army would make its stand. If all went well, an Anglo-French counterattack in the west would reduce German pressure and Polish forces could be re-supplied by the allies through friendly Rumania.

ww2dbaseHitler’s political tactics, however, forced a modification of this plan. Fearing the Germans might attempt to seize the Polish Corridor or Danzig and then declare the war over, Polish forces were ordered closer to the border to ensure that any German attack would be immediately engaged in major combat. In so doing they would ensure that Poland’s allies could not wriggle out of their treaty obligations.

ww2dbaseFor its part, Germany’s planners sought to deliver a rapid knock out blow to Poland within the first two weeks. German forces would launch deep armored attacks into Poland along two main routes: ?od?-Piotrkow-Warsaw and from Prussia across the Narew River into eastern Mazovia. There would be secondary attacks in the south and against the Polish coastal defenses in the north. The primary objective would be to cut off Polish forces in northern and western Poland and seize the capital. [Editor’s addition: To further deter France from entering the soon-to-begin German-Polish conflict, Hitler made several public visits to the West Wall on the German-French border beginning from Aug 1938 to survey the construction of bunkers, blockhouses, and other fortifications. The Nazi propaganda machine elaborated on these visits to form a picture of an invincible defensive line to deter French attacks when Germany invades Poland.]

ww2dbaseOpposing Forces

ww2dbaseOn paper, Poland’s full mobilized army would have numbered about 2.5 million. Due to allied pressure and mismanagement, however, only about 600,000 Polish troops were in place to meet the German invasion on September 1, 1939. These forces were organized into 7 armies and 5 independent operational groups. The typical Polish infantry division was roughly equal in numbers to its German counterpart, but weaker in terms of anti-tank guns, artillery support, and transport. Poland had 30 active and 7 reserve divisions. In addition there were 12 cavalry brigades and one mechanized cavalry brigade. These forces were supplemented by units of the Border Defense Corps (KOP), an elite force designed to secure the frontiers from infiltration and engage in small unit actions, diversion, sabotage, and intelligence gathering. There was also a National Guard used for local defense and equipped with older model weapons. Armored train groups and river flotillas operated under army command.

ww2dbaseGerman forces were organized in two Army Groups, with a total of 5 armies. The Germans fielded about 1.8 million troops. The Germans had 2600 tanks against the Polish 180, and over 2,000 aircraft against the Polish 420. German forces were supplemented by a Slovak brigade.

ww2dbaseOpening Moves

ww2dbaseArmed clashes along the border became increasingly frequent in August 1939 as Abwehr operations worked to penetrate Polish forward areas and were opposed by the Polish Border Defense Corps, an elite unit originally designed to halt Soviet penetration of the eastern frontier. These clashes alarmed the French who urged the Poles to avoid “provoking” Hitler.

ww2dbasePolish forces had been partly mobilized in secret in the summer of 1939. Full mobilization was to be declared in late August, but was halted at French insistence. Mobilization was again declared on August 30, but halted to French threats to withhold assistance, and then re-issued the following day. As a result of this, only about a third of Polish forces were equipped and in place on Sept. 1.

ww2dbaseOn August 31, operational Polish air units were dispersed to secret airfields. The navy’s three most modern destroyers executed Operation Peking and slipped out of the Baltic Sea to join the Royal Navy. Polish submarines dispersed to commence minelaying operations.

ww2dbaseAs Hitler gathered his generals, he ordered them to “kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of Polish descent or language… only in this way can we achieve the living space we need.” Mobile killing squadsEinsatzgruppen would follow the main body of troops, shooting POWs and any Poles who might organize resistance. On the night of August 31, Nazi agents staged a mock Polish attack on a German radio station in Silesia, dressing concentration camp prisoners in Polish uniforms and then shooting them. Hitler declared that Germany would respond to “Polish aggression.”

ww2dbaseThe invasion began at 4.45 A.M. The battleship Schleswig-Holstein was moored at the port of the Free City of Danzig on a “courtesy visit” near the Polish military transit station of Westerplatte. The station was on a sandy, narrow peninsula in the harbor, garrisoned by a small force of 182 men. At quarter to five on September 1, 1939, the giant guns of the battleship opened up on the Polish outpost at point-blank range. As dawn broke, Danzig SS men advanced on Westerplatte expecting to find only the pulverized remains of the Polish garrison. Instead, they found the defenders very much alive. In moments the German attack was cut to pieces. Further attacks followed. Polish defenders dueled the mighty battleship with a small field gun. At the Polish Post Office in Danzig, postal workers and Polish boy scouts held off Nazi forces for most of the day before surrendering. The post office defenders were summarily executed. A similar fate awaited Polish railway workers south of the city after they foiled an attempt to use an armored train to seize a bridge over the Vistula.

ww2dbaseBattle for the Borders

ww2dbaseGerman forces and their Danzig and Slovak allies attacked Poland across most sectors of the border. In the north, they attacked the Polish Corridor. In southern and central Poland, Nazi armored spearheads attacked toward Łódź and Kraków. In the skies, German planes commenced terror bombing of cities and villages. Nazi armies massacred civilians and used women and children as human shields. Everywhere were scenes of savage fighting and unbelievable carnage. Polish forces defending the borders gave a good account of themselves. At Mokra, near Częstochowa, the Nazi 4th Panzer Division attacked two regiments of the Wolynska Cavalry Brigade. The Polish defenders drew the Germans into a tank trap and destroyed over 50 tanks and armored cars.

ww2dbaseThe battle in the Polish Corridor was especially intense. It was here that the myth of the Polish cavalry charging German tanks was born. As Gen. Heinz Guderian’s panzer and motorized forces pressed the weaker Polish forces back, a unit of Pomorska Cavalry Brigade slipped through German lines late in the day on Sept. 1 in an effort to counterattack and slow the German advance. The unit happened on a German infantry battalion making camp. The Polish cavalry mounted a saber charge, sending the Germans fleeing at that moment, a group of German armored cars arrived on the scene and opened fire on the cavalry, killing several troopers and forcing the rest to retreat. Nazi propagandists made this into “cavalry charging tanks” and even made a movie to embellish their claims. While historians remembered the propaganda, they forgot that on September 1, Gen. Guderian had to personally intervene to stop the German 20th motorized division from retreating under what it described as “intense cavalry pressure.” This pressure was being applied by the Polish 18th Lancer Regiment, a unit one tenth its size.

ww2dbaseWhere the Poles were in position, they usually got the better of the fight, but due to the delay in mobilization, their forces were too few to defend all sectors. The effectiveness of German mechanized forces proved to be their ability to bypass Polish strong points, cutting them off and isolating them. By September 3, although the country was cheered by the news that France and Britain had declared war on Germany, the Poles were unable to contain the Nazi breakthroughs. Army Łódź, despite furious resistance, was pushed back and lost contact with its neighboring armies. German tanks drove through the gap directly toward Warsaw. In the Polish Corridor, Polish forces tried to stage a fighting withdrawal but suffered heavy losses to German tanks and dive bombers. In the air, the outnumbered Polish fighter command fought with skill and courage, especially around Warsaw. Nevertheless, Nazi aircraft systematically targeted Polish civilians, especially refugees. Bombing and shelling sent tens of thousands of people fleeing for their lives, crowding the roads, hindering military traffic.

ww2dbaseEditor’s addition: Realizing that escaping civilians crowded up important transportation routes and disrupted Polish military movement, the Germans began to broadcast fake Polish news programs that either falsely reported the position of German armies or to encourage civilians of certain areas to evacuate. With both methods, the Germans were able to exploit the fear of the Polish civilians and render Polish transportation systems nearly useless.

ww2dbaseThe effects of the Poles’ lack of mobility and the fateful decision to position forces closer to the border now began to tell. On September 5, the Polish High Command, fearing Warsaw was threatened, decided to relocate to southeastern Poland. This proved a huge mistake as the commanders soon lost contact with their major field armies. Warsaw itself was thrown into panic at the news.

ww2dbaseResistance Stiffens

ww2dbaseAlthough the situation was grim, it was not yet hopeless. Following the High Command’s departure, the mayor of Warsaw Stefan Starzyński and General Walerian Czuma rallied the city’s defenders. Citizen volunteers built barricades and trenches. An initial German attack on the city’s outskirts was repulsed.

ww2dbaseThe fast German advance took little account of Army Poznań under the command of Gen. Kutrzeba which had been bypassed on the Nazis’ quick drive toward Warsaw. On September 8-9, Army Poznań counterattacked from the north against the flank of the German forces moving on Warsaw. The Nazi advance halted in the face of the initial Polish success on the River Bzura. The Nazis’ superiority in tanks and aircraft, however, allowed them to regroup and stop Army Poznań’s southward push. The counterattack turned into a battle of encirclement. Although some forces managed to escape to Warsaw, by September 13, the Battle of Bzura was over and Polish forces destroyed. The delay, however, had allowed Warsaw to marshal its defenses, turning the perimeter of the city into a series of makeshift forts. In the south, German forces had captured Kraków early in the campaign but their advance slowed down as they approached Lwow. The defenders of Westerplatte had surrendered after seven days of fighting against overwhelming odds, but the city of Gdynia and the Hel Peninsula still held as Polish coastal batteries kept German warships at bay.

ww2dbaseBy the middle of September, Polish losses had been severe and the German advance had captured half of the country. The high command’s fateful decision to leave Warsaw had resulted in more than a week of confusion, rescued only by the courage of Army Poznań’s doomed counterattack. By the middle of September, however, Polish defenses were stiffening. Local commanders and army-level generals now directed defenses around the key bastions of Warsaw, the Seacoast, and Lwow. German losses began to rise (reaching their peak during the third week of the campaign). Small Polish units isolated by the rapid advance regrouped and struck at vulnerable rear-area forces.

ww2dbaseBlack September

ww2dbaseThis thin ray of hope, however, was extinguished on September 17 when Red Army forces crossed Poland’s eastern border as Stalin moved to assist his Nazi ally and to seize his share of Polish territory. Nearly all Polish troops had been withdrawn from the eastern border to fight the Nazi onslaught. Only a few units of the Border Defense Corps aided by local volunteers stood in the way of Stalin’s might. Although often outnumbered 100 to 1, these forces refused to surrender.

ww2dbaseOne such force commanded by Lt. Jan Bolbot was attacked by tens of thousands of Red Army troops in their bunkers near Sarny. Bolbot’s surrounded men mowed down thousands of Soviet attackers who advanced in human waves. Finally, communist forces piled debris around the bunkers and set them on fire. Lt. Bolbot, who remained in telephone contact with his commander, reported that the neighboring bunker had been breached and he could see hand to hand fighting there. He told his commander that his own bunker was on fire and filling with thick smoke but all his men were still at their posts and shooting back. Then the line went dead. The entire Sarny garrison fought to the last man. Bolbot was posthumously awarded the Virtuti Militari, Poland’s highest military decoration.

ww2dbasePolish defenses in the southeast fell apart as formations were ordered to fall back across the relatively friendly Rumanian and Hungarian borders to avoid capture. Fighting raged around Warsaw, the fortress of Modlin, and on the seacoast. On September 28, Warsaw capitulated. Polish forces on the Hel Peninsula staved off surrender until October 1. In the marshes of east central Poland, Group Polesie continued to mount effective resistance until October 5. When this final organized force gave up, its ammunition was gone and its active duty soldiers were outnumbered by the prisoners it had taken.

ww2dbaseThroughout the first two and half weeks of September 1939, Germany threw its entire air force, all of panzer forces, and all of its frontline infantry and artillery against Poland. Its border with France was held by a relatively thin force of second and third string divisions. The French army, from its secure base behind the Maginot Line, had overwhelming superiority in men, tanks, aircraft, and artillery. A concerted push into western Germany would have been a disaster for Hitler. Yet the French stood aside and did nothing. The British were equally inactive, sending their bombers to drop propaganda leaflets over a few German cities. Had the Allies acted, the bloodiest and most terrible war in human history could have been averted.

ww2dbaseManaging Editor C. Peter Chen’s Addition

ww2dbaseThe Western Betrayal

ww2dbaseSince Britain and France had given Germany a freehand in annexing Czechoslovakia, some people of Central and Eastern Europe placed a distrust on the democratic nations of Western Europe. They used the word “betrayal” to describe their western allies who failed to fulfill their treaty responsibilities to stand by the countries they swore to protect. Britain and France’s lack of initial response to the German invasion convinced them that their western allies had indeed betrayed them.

ww2dbaseBritain simply did not wish to give up the notion that Germany could be courted as a powerful ally. After a note was sent from London to Berlin regarding to the invasion of her ally, Lord Halifax followed up by sending British Ambassador in Berlin Nevile Henderson a note stating that the note was “in the nature of a warning and is not to be considered as an ultimatum.” Deep in its pacifist fantasies, Britain did not consider the violation of her allies borders a valid cause for war. France’s response to the invasion was similar, expressing a willingness to negotiate though refusing to send any deadline for a German response. At 1930 London time on 1 Sep 1939, the British parliament gathered for a statement from Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, expecting a declaration of war as dictated by the terms of the pact between Britain and Poland, or minimally the announcement of an ultimatum for Berlin. Instead, Chamberlain noted that Hitler was a busy man and might not had the time to review the note from Berlin yet. When he sat down after his speech, there were no cheers; even the parliament characterized by its support for appeasement was stunned by Chamberlain’s lack of action.

ww2dbaseAs Britain and France idled, the German Luftwaffe bombed Polish cities. They submitted messages to Berlin noting that if German troops were withdrawn, they were willing to forget the whole ordeal and return things to the status quo. It was a clear violation of the military pacts that they had signed with Poland. Finally, on 3 Sep, after thousands of Polish military and civilian personnel had already perished, Britain declared war on Germany at 1115. France followed suit at 1700 on the same day. Even after they had declared war, however, the sentiment did not steer far from that of appeasement. The two western Allies remained mostly idle. While Poland desperately requested the French Army to advance into Germany to tie down German divisions and requested Britain to bomb German industrial centers, Britain and especially France did nothing in fear of German reprisals. In one of the biggest “what-if” scenarios of WW2, even Wilhelm Keitel noted that had France reacted by conducting a full-scale invasion of Germany, Germany would have fallen immediately. “We soldiers always expected an attack by France during the Polish campaign, and were very surprised that nothing happened…. A French attack would have encountered only a German military screen, not a real defense”, he said. The invasion was not mounted; instead, token advances were made under the order of Maurice Gamelin of France, where a few divisions marched into Saarbrücken and immediately withdrawn. The minor French expedition was embellished in Gamelin’s communique as an invasion, and falsely gave the impression that France was fully committed and was meeting stiff German resistance. While the Polish ambassy in London reported several times that Polish civilians were being targeted by German aerial attacks, Britain continued to insist that the German military had been attacking only military targets.

ww2dbaseSource: The Last Lion

ww2dbaseOccupation and Escape

ww2dbaseBoth German and Soviet occupations began with murder and brutality. Many prisoners of war were executed on the spot or later during the war. Countless civilians were also shot or sent to concentration camps, including political leaders, clergy, boy scouts, professors, teachers, government officials, doctors, and professional athletes. Among them was Mayor Starzynski of Warsaw who had rallied his city to resist the Nazi onslaught. In the German sector, Jews were singled out for special brutality.

ww2dbaseMany small army units continued to fight from remote forests. Among the most famous was the legendary “Major Hubal,” the pseudonym of Major Henryk Dobrzański. Major Hubal and his band of 70-100 men waged unrelenting guerilla warfare on both occupiers until they were cornered by German forces in April 1940 and wiped out. Hubal’s body was burned by the Germans and buried in secret so he would not become a martyr, but others soon took his place.

ww2dbasePOWs captured by the Germans were to be sent to labor and prison camps. Many soldiers escaped and disappeared into the local population. Those who remained in German custody were frequently abused, used for slave labor, or shot. POWs captured by the Soviets suffered an even worse fate. Officers were separated from the enlisted men and an estimated 22,000 were massacred by the Soviets. Enlisted men were often sent to Siberian gulags where many died.

ww2dbaseLarge numbers of Polish soldiers had fled into neighboring Hungary and Rumania where they were interned. While both countries were officially allied to Germany, both had strong sympathy for the Poles. This was especially true in Hungary. Polish soldiers began to disappear from internment camps as bribable or sympathetic guards and officials pretended to look the other way. Individually and in small groups, they made their way to France and Britain. German diplomats raged at their Hungarian and Rumanian counterparts, but officials in neither country had much interest in enforcing Berlin’s decrees. As a result, within months a new Polish army had begun to form in the West.

ww2dbaseSources: Steven Zaloga and Victor Madej, The Polish Campaign, 1939 (1985)
John Radzilowski, Traveller’s History of Poland (2006)
E. Kozlowski, Wojna Obronna Polski, 1939 (1979)
Jan Gross, Revolution from Abroad (1988)

Invasion of Poland Interactive Map

Invasion of Poland Timeline

3 Apr 1939 Adolf Hitler, on his own authority, ordered the armed forces to prepare “Case White” for the invasion and occupation of the whole of Poland later in the summer.
7 May 1939 German Generals Rundstedt, Manstein, and other General Staff members presented to Hitler an invasion plan for Danzig and Poland.
15 Jun 1939 The German Army presented a plan to Adolf Hitler for the invasion of Poland, with much of the strategy focusing on concentrated surprise attacks to quickly eliminate Polish opposition.
10 Aug 1939 Reinhard Heydrich ordered SS Officer Alfred Naujocks to fake an attack on a radio station near Gleiwitz, Germany, which was on the border with Poland. “Practical proof is needed for these attacks of the Poles for the foreign press as well as German propaganda”, said Heydrich, according to Naujocks.
14 Aug 1939 Adolf Hitler announced to his top military commanders that Germany was to enter in a war with Poland at the end of Aug 1939, and that the United Kingdom and France would not enter the fray, especially if Poland could be decisively wiped out in a week or two.
17 Aug 1939 The Germany military was ordered to supply the SS organization with 150 Polish Army uniforms.
22 Aug 1939 With a non-aggression pact nearly secured with the Soviet Union, German leader Adolf Hitler ordered the Polish invasion to commence on 26 Aug 1939. He told his top military commanders to be brutal and show no compassion in the upcoming war.
24 Aug 1939 In Berlin, Germany, journalist William Shirer noted in his diary “it looks like war” based on his observations throughout the day.
25 Aug 1939 In the morning, Adolf Hitler sent a message to Benito Mussolini, noting that the reason why Italy was not informed of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was because Hitler had not imagined the negotiations would conclude so quickly. He also revealed to him that war was to commence soon, but failed to let him know that the planned invasion date was on the following day. Later on the same day, however, Hitler hesitated in the face of the Anglo-Polish mutual defense agreement; he would quickly decide to postpone the invasion date. Meanwhile, in Berlin, Germany, journalist William Shirer noted in his diary that war seems to be imminent.
26 Aug 1939 Some German units ordered to lead the invasion of Poland, originally planned for this date, did not receive the message that the invasion had been postponed in the previous evening and crossed the borders, attacking Polish defenses with rifles, machine guns, and grenades; they would be withdrawn back into Germany within hours. Because Poland had experienced so much German provocation in the past few days, Polish leadership brushed off the attacks as another series of provocation, despite having reports that the attacks wore regular uniforms. In the late afternoon, Adolf Hitler set the new invasion date at 1 Sep 1939.
28 Aug 1939 Citizens in Berlin, Germany observed troops moving toward the east.
29 Aug 1939 Adolf Hitler summoned the three leading representatives of the German armed forces, Walther von Brauchitsch, Hermann Göring, and Erich Raeder together with senior Army commanders to his mountain villa at Obersalzberg in southern Germany, where he announced the details of the recently-signed Soviet-German non-aggression pact, the plan to isolate and destroy Poland, and the formation of a buffer state in conquered Poland against the Soviet Union.
31 Aug 1939 The formal order for the German invasion of Poland was given; specific instructions were made for German troops on the western border to avoid conflict with the United Kingdom, France, and the Low Countries.
1 Sep 1939 Using the staged Gleiwitz radio station attack as an excuse, Germany declared war on Poland. Meanwhile, the radio station in Minsk, Byelorussia increased the frequency of station identification and extended its playing time in an attempt to help German aviators navigate. Among the opening acts of the European War, the German Luftwaffe bombed the town of Wielu in Poland, causing 1,200 civilian casualties.
2 Sep 1939 During the day, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier issued a joint ultimatum to Germany, demanding the withdraw of troops from Poland within 12 hours. During the late hours of the night, Chamberlain attempted to convince Dalalier to carry out the threat from the earlier ultimatum by declaring war on Germany early in the next morning.
3 Sep 1939 At 0900 hours, British Ambassador in Germany Nevile Henderson delivered the British declaration of war to German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, effective at 1100 hours; British Commonwealth nations of New Zealand and Australia followed suit. France would also declare war later on this day, effective at 1700 hours. In the afternoon, Adolf Hitler issued an order to his generals, again stressing that German troops must not attack British and French positions. Finally, Hitler also sent a message to the Soviet Union, asking the Soviets to jointly invade Poland.
3 Sep 1939 At 1115 hours, British Prime Minsiter Neville Chamberlain announced over radio that because Germany had failed to withdraw troops from Poland by 1100 hours, a state of war now existed between the United Kingdom and Germany.
5 Sep 1939 German Army units crossed the Vistula River in Poland. Meanwhile, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov responded to the German invitation to jointly invade Poland in the positive, but noted that the Soviet forces would need several days to prepare; he also warned the Germans not to cross the previously agreed upon line separating German and Soviet spheres of influence.
6 Sep 1939 German troops captured the Upper Silesian industrial area in Poland.
7 Sep 1939 German troops captured Kraków, Poland.
8 Sep 1939 German troops neared the suburbs of Warsaw, and the Polish government evacuated to Lublin.
8 Sep 1939 Polish defenders at Westerplatte, Danzig surrendered.
9 Sep 1939 Battle of the Bzura, also known as Battle of Kutno to the Germans, began; it was to become the largest battle in the Poland campaign. Elsewhere, German forces captured Lodz and Radom. South of Radom, Stuka dive-bombers of Colonel Gunter Schwarzkopff’s St.G.77 finished off the great Polish attempt to cross the Vistula River, crushing the last pockets of resistance in conjunction with tanks; “Wherever they went”, reported one Stuka pilot after the action, “we came across throngs of Polish troops, against which our 110-lb fragmentation bombs were deadly. After that we went almost down to the deck firing our machine guns. The confusion was indescribable.” At Warsaw, German attempts to enter the city were repulsed. In Moscow, Russia, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov informed the German ambassador that Soviet forces would be ready to attack Poland within a few days.
10 Sep 1939 German troops made a breakthrough near Kutno and Sandomierz in Poland.
13 Sep 1939 The 60,000 survivors in the Radom Pocket in Poland surrendered.
15 Sep 1939 German troops captured Gdynia, Poland. Meanwhile, Polish troops failed to break out of the Kutno Pocket. At Warsaw, with it surrounded by German troops, the Polish Army was ordered to the Romanian border to hold out until the Allies arrive; the Romanian government offered asylum to all Polish civilians who could make it across the border; Polish military personnel who crossed the border, however, would be interned. In Berlin, Germany, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop asked the Soviet Union for a definite date and time when Soviet forces would attack Poland.
16 Sep 1939 Polish troops counterattacked, destroying 22 tanks of Leibstandarte SS “Adolf Hitler” regiment. Elsewhere in Poland, German troops captured Brest-Litovsk (now in Belarus). In Moscow, Russia, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov proposed that the Soviet Union would enter the war with the reason of protection of Ukrainians and Byelorussians; Germany complained that it singled out Germany as the lone aggressor.
17 Sep 1939 In Poland, German troops captured Kutno west of Warsaw. East of Warsaw, Heinz Guderian’s XIX Panzerkorps of Army Group North made contact with XXII Panzerkorps of Army Group South, just to the south of Brest-Litovsk; virtually the whole Polish Army (or what remained of it) was now trapped within a gigantic double pincer. In Russia, Joseph Stalin declared that the government of Poland no longer existed, thus all treaties between the two states were no longer valid; Soviet troops poured across the border to join Germany in the invasion, ostensibly to protect Ukrainian and Byelorussian interests from potential German aggression.
18 Sep 1939 A Soviet-German joint victory parade was held in Brest-Litovsk in Eastern Poland (now in Belarus).
19 Sep 1939 West of Warsaw, Poland, at the bend of the Vistula River, German troops imprisoned 170,000 Polish troops as they surrendered.
20 Sep 1939 German General Johannes Blaskowitz noted in his order of the day that, at the Battle of the Bzura in Poland, also known as Battle of Kutno to the Germans, his troops was fighting “in one of the biggest and most destructive battles of all times.” Elsewhere, German troops withdrew to the agreed demarcation line in Poland, with Soviet forces moving in behind them. Finally, also on this day, the remaining Polish garrison in Grodno managed to kill 800 Soviet troops and at least 10 tanks.
21 Sep 1939 60,000 survivors of the Polish Southern Army surrendered at Tomaszov and Zamosz, Poland.
22 Sep 1939 Battle of the Bzura, also known as Battle of Kutno to the Germans, ended in Polish defeat; it was the largest battle of the Polish campaign during which more than 18,000 Polish troops and about 8,000 German troops were killed. At Lvov, over 210,000 Poles surrender to the Soviets, but at the Battle of Kodziowce the Soviets suffered heavy casualties. Also on this day, the Soviet NKVD began gathering Polish officers for deportation.
23 Sep 1939 German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop expressed approval for the Soviet proposal on the partition of Poland. Meanwhile, at Krasnobrod, Poland, three squadrons of the Nowgrodek Cavalry Brigade attacked and surprised the German 8th Infantry Division which had entrenched on a hill. The German made a disorderly retreat to a nearby town, hotly pursued by the Polish cavalry. Despite heavy losses from machine-gun fire the Poles secured the town, capturing the German divisional headquarters including General Rudolf Koch-Erpach and about 100 other German soldiers. In addition forty Polish prisoners were freed. During the action Lieutenant Tadeusz Gerlecki, commanding the second squadron, defeated a German cavalry unit – one of the last battles in military history between opposing cavalry.
25 Sep 1939 Warsaw, Poland suffered heavy Luftwaffe bombing and artillery bombardment as Adolf Hitler arrived to observe the attack. To the east, Soviet troops captured Bialystok, Poland. Meanwhile, Joseph Stalin proposed to the Germans that the Soviet Union would take Lithuania which was previously within the German sphere of influence; in exchange, the Soviets would give the portions of Poland near Warsaw which were previously within the Soviet sphere of influence but had already been overrun by German troops.
27 Sep 1939 Warsaw, Poland fell to the Germans after two weeks of siege. Near Grabowiec, Soviets executed 150 Polish policemen.
28 Sep 1939 At Brest-Litovsk, Poland (now Belarus), Germans and Soviets signed the agreement denoting their common border in Poland.
29 Sep 1939 With the formal surrender of Poland, including the last 35,000 besieged troops in Modlin, the Germany and Soviet Union finished dividing up Poland.
6 Oct 1939 The final Polish forces surrendered near Kock and Lublin after fighting both Germans and Soviets.
10 Oct 1939 Adolf Hitler announced the victorious end to the Polish campaign and called on France and England to end hostilities, which was ignored by both governments.
30 Oct 1939 An act was signed in Moscow, Russia which formally annexed occupied Polish territories.

Photographs

Polish soldiers marching, circa 1939 German battleship Schleswig-Holstein bombarding Westerplatte, Danzig, 1 Sep 1939. Photo 1 of 2.
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Why Hitler wanted the Jews out of Germany
This a very superficial explanation. If you want a deeper understanding of the situation then : “World Defeated The Wrong Enemy” or “Adolf Hitler – The Greatest Story NEVER Told”.
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