Invasion of Poland Sept. 1, 1939
• To “liberate” the “suffering” Germans there
Blitzkrieg in Poland
• Overwhelmed Poland w/ the blitzkrieg
• “Lightning war” • Coordinated attack using
• German dive-bomber • Made a horrendous
air & ground forces
whirling noise as it dives
– German air force
– Terrified people
– Used to create confusion • Destroyed command, communication, & transportation centers
• Disrupted the movement of supplies and reinforcements
– Used to weaken the front lines
• Divided into two army groups
– Panzer divisions • German tank – Broke thru lines deep into enemy territory – Sought to encircle the enemy using a pincer • To encircle the enemy by attacking each flank
– Army Group North • Commanded by Feodor von Bock • Attacked into the Polish Corridor
– Army Group South • Commanded by Gerd von Rundstedt • Attacked from Czech.
– German army – Advanced to mop up and secure behind the panzers
• Coordinated a pincer attack
Polish Strategy Undermined Sept. 2, 1939
• Edward Rydz-Śmigły
– Commander of the Polish army
• Polish mobilization disrupted by superior German forces.
• Polish mobilization
– Full mobilization ordered on Aug. 30th • Would result in an army of 1.8 million – Only 1 million soldiers called up. – Only 800,000 armed and deployed.
• Built around the horse cavalry
– Best in the world – To swiftly counterattack the enemy
• Anglo-French agreements w/ Poland
– Poland was to hold out for 14 days. – France promised air attacks. – Offensive to be launched w/in 14 days.
Sept. 3, 1939 • Polish Corridor completely surrounded. • Britain and France declare war on Germany.
Balance of Forces Germany
1.7 million soldiers
Polish Strategy Undermined • Polish cavalry no match for German panzers.
– Although Polish cavalry—w/ swords and lances—did attack German tanks. • W/o much success!
• German forces advanced faster than Poles retreated.
Polish Strategy Undermined Sept. 17, 1939 • Polish army in the W. surrounded and neutralized. • Russians invade E. Poland per the Non-Aggression Pact, meeting no resistance b/c most soldiers had been sent to the W. to deal w/ the German invasion.
Sept. 27, 1939 • Warsaw, the Polish capital, fell.
Survival of Poland • Occupation gov’t est. in Poland
– Based in Kraków (Cracow) – Led by Hans Frank – Est. apartheid-like practices • To protest the “master race” • Mad to move to let Germans pass • Not allowed to talk to Germans
Oct. 1, 1939
– Escaped to Paris, then London – Troops formed army-in-exile. • Led by Władysław Sikorski
• Poland surrendered.
• Home Army
Oct. 5, 1939
– Carried on underground war of sabotage and resistance.
• All resistance to German and Russian forces in Poland ended.
• British bombers filled the
• A.k.a. Sitzkrieg – “Sitting War”
• Germany surprised at the
Allied resolve over Poland. – Western parts of Germany only lightly defended.
• British and French stunned into inaction by events in Poland.
– But could they have ended the war before it got underway?
“If we did not collapse already in the year 1939 that was due only to the fact that during the Polish campaign, the approximately 110 French and British divisions in the West were held completely inactive against the 23 German divisions.” —Alfred Jodl, German military commander, at Nuremburg Trials
skies over Germany on Sept. 3rd.
– To drop 13 tons of leaflets!
Historian Martin Gilbert writes about a popular joke of the time that “told of an airman who was rebuked for dropping a whole bundle of leaflets still tied up in its brick-like packet: ‘Good God, you might have killed someone!’” —Martin Gilbert, The Second World War
England to the German People The Nazi regime has, in spite of the endeavours of the leading great Powers, plunged the world into war. This war is a crime. The German people must quite clearly distinguish between the pretexts employed by its government so as to unleash war and the principles which have forced England and France to defend Poland. From the very beginning the English government has made it clear that the Polish question is not one which can justify a European war with all its tragic consequences. Five months after the Munich Agreement the independence of Czechoslovakia was brutally trodden underfoot. So that Poland shall not also suffer the same fate, we must insist that peaceful methods of negotiation shall not be rendered impossible through threats of force, and that in the negotiations which are requisite the Poles right to live must be guaranteed and honourably kept. We cannot accept or admit a Diktat. If Herr Hitler believes that the English government, out of fear of war, will allow the Poles to be left in the lurch, then he has been deceiving himself. In the first place England will not break her pledged word. Furthermore, it is high time that the brutal force with which the Nazi regime strives to dominate the World should be halted. Through this war the German Chancellor places himself against the unbending resolution of the English government, a resolution which has behind it not only the resources and means of the whole English Commonwealth, but also a union of other great Powers. It is a question of the salvation of human freedom and the right of peoples to live free. Up to the very last moment the Pope, the President of the United States and the King of the Belgians, in the name of Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, made fruitless appeals to your Nazi government, urgently requesting that negotiations should be chosen in the place of war. Now a catastrophe has broken out upon you in that the Reich finds itself isolated from the community of civilised peoples, without any support save that of Communist Russia. You cannot win this war. Against you are arrayed resources and materials far greater than your own. For years you have been subjected to the most stringent censorship, and by means of an incredible system of secret police and informers the truth has been withheld from you. Against you stands the united strength of the free peoples, who with open eyes will fight for freedom to the last. This war is as repulsive to us as it is to you, but do not forget that England, once forced into war, will wage it unwaveringly to the end. England's nerves are strong, her resources inexhaustible. We will not relent. Pass on (this leaflet)
Effects of the “Phoney War” • Allowed Hitler to redeploy forces to W. Germany
• Sapped the Anglo-French troops of their morale