The Poland invasion: David against Goliath.

10-11-2018

The Invasion of Poland, known in Poland as the September Campaign and in Germany as the Poland Campaign (Polenfeldzug) or Fall Weiss (“Case White”), was a joint invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, the Free City of Danzig, and a small Slovak contingent  that marked the beginning of World War II. The German invasion began on 1 September 1939, one week after the signing of the MolotovRibbentrop Pact , while the Soviet invasion commenced on 17 September following the Molotov–Shigenori Togo  agreement that terminated the Soviet and Japanese Battles of Khalkhin Gol  in the east on 16 September. The campaign ended on 6 October with Germany and the Soviet Union dividing and annexing the whole of Poland under the terms of the German–Soviet Frontier Treaty.  After the war Shigenori Togo was sentenced to 20 years in prison.and  died on 23 July 1950 in an American hospital.

September 1st 1939 at 4:45 a.m., some 1.5 million German troops invade Poland all along its 1,750-mile border with German-controlled territory. Germany had a substantial numeric advantage over Poland and had developed a significant military before the conflict. The Heer (army) had 3,472 tanks in its inventory, of which 2,859 were with the Field Army and 408 with the Replacement Army. 453 tanks were assigned into four light divisions, while another 225 tanks were in detached regiments and companies. Most notably, the Germans had seven Panzer divisions , with 2,009 tanks between them, utilizing a new operational doctrine. It held that these divisions should act in coordination with other elements of the military, punching holes in the enemy line and isolating selected units, which would be encircled and destroyed. This would be followed up by less-mobile mechanized infantry and foot soldiers. The Luftwaffe (air force) provided both tactical and strategic air power, particularly dive bombers that disrupted lines of supply and communications. Together, the new methods were nicknamed “Blitzkrieg” (lightning war). While historian Basil Liddell Hart  claimed “Poland was a full demonstration of the Blitzkrieg theory”, some other historians disagree. 

Aircraft played a major role in the campaign. Bombers also attacked cities, causing huge losses amongst the civilian population through terror bombing and strafing. The Luftwaffe forces consisted of 1,180 fighters, 290 Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers, 1,100 conventional bombers (mainly Heinkel He 111s and Dornier Do 17s), and an assortment of 550 transport and 350 reconnaissance aircraft. In total, Germany had close to 4,000 aircraft, most of them modern. A force of 2,315 aircraft was assigned to Weiss. Due to its earlier participation in the Spanish Civil War, the Luftwaffe was probably the most experienced, best-trained and best-equipped air force in the world in 1939.In the period of 1 September – 25 October 1939 German forces during their military actions engaged in executions of Polish POWs, bombed hospitals, murdered civilians, shot refugees, executed wounded soldiers. The cautious estimates give a number of at least 16,000 murdered victims

The Nazis conducted indiscriminate retaliatory measures against populations in areas where resistance was encountered. These policies included mass expulsions. In November 1942, the Germans expelled over 100,000 people from the Zamosc region; many were deported to the Auschwitz and Majdanek camps. Approximately 50,000 Polish children were taken from their families, transferred to the Reich, and subjected to “Germanization” policies.

It is estimated that the Germans killed between 1.8 and 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish civilians during World War II. In addition, the Germans murdered at least 3 million Jewish citizens of Poland.

Roughly 1,250 German civilians were also killed during the invasion. (An additional 2,000 died fighting Polish troops as members of ethnic German militia forces such as the Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz, which constituted a fifth column during the invasion.)

 

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