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Invasion of Poland

Invasion of Poland- September, 1939

The Invasion of Poland was the brink of the beginning of the Second World War.

Its started on the 1st of September, 1939 when the Wehrmacht used their Blitzkrieg tactics, and swiftly took over control of Poland in under two months. It ended on the 6th of October 1939. But after the invasion of Poland, there was Polish Resistance towards the German Forces staying in Poland.

History

Prelude to invasion

Following Germany's occupation of Sudetenland, and the establishment of an independent Slovak state, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced, on 31 March 1939, that he had sent Poland an unqualified offer to aid her in any action which threatened Polish independence, and which the Polish Government accordingly considered it vital to resist, without full consulting his Cabinet, or discussing with them the report from his Chief of Staff, which detailed the practicability of implementing the decision. In the eyes of the world, this represented a complete change in British policy, which the French were persuaded to follow.[1] This may have been prompted by Hitler's decision, on 28 August, to denounce the non aggression pact he had signed with Poland five years earlier.[2]

Although the offer could have exacerbated Hitler, most speakers in the House of Commons were confident that the guarantee would help to preserve peace, with only Lloyd George pointing out that is would be 'suicidal' to offer such a guarantee, without assurances of Russian backing.[3] Hitler was also aware of Britain's need to secure Russian assistance in the defence of Poland. Realising that he only needed to ensure Russian neutrality in any war between Germany and Poland, Hitler began to make secret overtures to Russia in April 1939,[4] leading to the signing of a Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact in late August.[5] When the news of the non-aggression pact became public, Poland mobilized her armed forces,[6] all of which were mainly equipped with obsolescent weapons.[7]

The German Invasion

German troops crossed the border into Poland at 4:30 am on 1 September 1939, in response to the claimed provocation resulting from a staged border outrage, which the Germans had staged themselves, in order to make it appear as if the Poles were making aggressive moves against Germany.[6]

The forces devoted to the German attack on Poland consisted of Hitler's best troops, supported by all his armored and mobile divisions, as well as almost all of his aircraft. Due to the guarantee of assistance made by Great Britain and France, forty divisions were left behind to protect Germany's western border. However, three quarters of these were second rate units, and only possessed enough ammunition to last three days.[8]

The German invaders, with more than 2,000 tanks and 1,000 warplanes, broke through the Polish defences along the 1,750-mile border and advanced on Warsaw in a massive encirclement attack.

By 8 September, German forces had reached the outskirts of Warsaw, having advanced 140 miles in the first week of the invasion.

The Polish Army planned to hold out long enough so that an offensive could be launched against Germany in the west, but on 17 September Russian divisions invaded from the east and all hope was lost.

After heavy shelling and aerial bombardment, Warsaw surrendered to the Germans on 27 September 1939.

Aftermath

As a result of the invasion, a large number of Polish pilots and airmen escaped to France, in order to continue their fight against Germany. When France also fell, the Poles made their way to Great Britain where, in accordance with the Anglo-Polish agreement signed by General Sikorski, on behalf of the Polish Government, Polish Air Force units were reorganized within the framework of the Royal Air Force.[9] During the Battle of Britain, the 303rd Polish Squadron were among the most effective fighter units of the aerial campaign.

The Russian forces carried out the liberation of Poland in 1945, establishing a communist government in Warsaw.

References

  1. Odhams History of World War Two. 1951. Page 24
  2. Roberts, Andrew. Page 17
  3. Odhams WW2 Page 26
  4. Odhams WW2 Page 27
  5. Roberts, Andrew. Page 10
  6. 6.0 6.1 Willmott, H.P., Robin Cross and Charles Messenger. DK Illustrated Guide to World War II. Dorling Kindersley Limited. 2012 reprint. ISBN 978 1 4093 7649 1 Page 33
  7. Willmott, H.P., Robin Cross and Charles Messenger. Page 37
  8. Roberts, Andrew. Page 19
  9. Gunston, Bill (Forward). Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. Tiger Books. 1989. ISBN 1-85501-996-5. (Reprint of Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1945/1946. Bridgeman, Leonard (Editor). 1946). Page 50

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