Invasion of Poland (1939)
|Invasion of Poland (1939)|
|Part of World War II|
The map shows the beginning of the Second World War in September 1939 in a wider European context.
|Commanders and leaders|
| Fedor von Bock
(Army Group North)
Joined on 17 September:
39 divisions (some of them were never fully mobilized and concentrated),
Total: 950,000[Note 1]
|Casualties and losses|
The Invasion of Poland in 1939 was a military offensive in which Nazi Germany, and two weeks later the Soviet Union, invaded Poland. It was the start of World War II in Europe. The invasion took place from 1 September to 6 October 1939. The invasion of Poland caused Britain and France to declare war on Germany on 3 September; they did little to affect the September Campaign. In the end, Poland lost. Germany and the Soviet Union divided the country according to a treaty signed years before the war.
This was the first time blitzkrieg was tried on the battlefield. The German surprise attack was successful. It was very effective against the ineffective and unmobilized Polish Army, whose tanks and airplanes were few and mostly old. They were outflanked, outmaneuvered, and outnumbered in September 1939, and easily destroyed by the blitzkrieg. The Poles if well prepared could have had two million soldiers in the fight.
The invasion came directly from the Gleiwitz incident, where German soldiers dressed as Polish troops occupied a radio station and transmitted Anti-German messages. The next morning German forces pushed the Polish defenders from the border back to inland Poland. After the Battle of the Bzura the Polish were forced to defend Warsaw, while the rest defended the Polish-Romanian border, waiting for Allied support which was in the campaign very limited.
The Polish saw their country destroyed by war as their newest enemy, the Soviet Union, also invaded Poland on the 17th of September, destroying all hopes of a Polish victory. The Polish government ordered that all forces retreat to Romania through the border. After the occupation of Poland the remaining Polish forces joined the Western Allies. Some eventually joined the Russians in their fight against Germany.
Notes[change | change source]
- Various sources contradict each other so the figures quoted above should only be taken as a rough indication of the strength estimate. The most common range differences and their brackets are: German personnel 1,500,000 (official figure of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs) – or 1,800,000. Polish tanks: 100–880, 100 is the number of modern tanks, while the 880 number includes older tanks from the WWI era and tankettes.
- The discrepancy in German casualties can be attributed to the fact that some German statistics still listed soldiers as missing decades after the war. Today the most common and accepted numbers are: 8,082 to 16,343 KIA, 320 to 5,029 MIA, 27,280 to 34,136 WIA. For comparison, in his 1939 speech following the Polish Campaign Adolf Hitler presented these German figures: 10,576 KIA, 30,222 WIA, and 3,400 MIA. According to early Allied estimates, including those of the Polish government-in-exile, the number of German KIA casualties was 90,000 and WIA casualties was 200,000 Equipment losses are given as 832 German tanks  of with approximately 236 to 341 as irrecoverable losses and approximately 319 other armoured vehicles as irrecoverable losses (including 165 Panzer Spahwagen – of them 101 as irrecoverable losses) 522–561 German planes (including 246–285 destroyed and 276 damaged), 1 German minelayer (M-85) and 1 German torpedo ship ("Tiger")
- Soviet official losses are estimated at 737 to 1,475 KIA or MIA (Ukrainian Front – 972, Belorussian Front – 503, and 1,859 to 2,383 WIA (Ukrainian Front – 1,741, Belorussian Front – 642). The Soviets lost approximately 150 tanks in combat of which 43 as irrecoverable losses, while hundreds more suffered technical failures.
- Various sources contradict each other so the figures quoted above should only be taken as a rough indication of losses. The most common range brackets for casualties are: Poland: 66,000 to 70,000 KIA, 134,000 WIA. The often cited figure of 420,000 Polish prisoners of war represents only those captured by the Germans, as Soviets captured about 250,000 Polish POWs themselves, making the total number of Polish POWs about 660,000–690,000. In terms of equipment the Polish Navy lost 1 destroyer (ORP Wicher (1928), 1 minelayer (ORP Gryf) and several support craft. Equipment losses included 132 Polish tanks and armoured cars 327 Polish planes (118 fighters))
References[change | change source]
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The 1939 Campaign Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2005 Archived 16 January 2010 at WebCite
- E.R Hooton, p85
- Кривошеев Г. Ф., Россия и СССР в войнах XX века: потери вооруженных сил. Статистическое исследование (Krivosheev G. F., Russia and the USSR in the wars of the 20th century: losses of the Armed Forces. A Statistical Study Greenhill 1997 ISBN 978-1-85367-280-4) (Russian)
- Переслегин. Вторая мировая: война между реальностями.- М.:Яуза, Эксмо, 2006, с.22; Р. Э. Дюпюи, Т. Н. Дюпюи. Всемирная история войн.—С-П,М: АСТ, кн.4, с.93
- Internetowa encyklopedia PWN, article on 'Kampania Wrześniowa 1939'
- Website of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs – the Poles on the Front Lines
- Wojna Obronna Polski 1939, page 851
- "Polish War, German Losses". The Canberra Times. 13 Oct 1937. Retrieved 2009-01-17.
- "Nazi Loss in Poland Placed at 290,000". The New York Times. 1941. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- KAMIL CYWINSKI, Waffen und Geheimwaffen des deutschen Heeres 1933-1945
- The encyclopedia of modern war By Roger Parkinson Taylor & Francis, ISBN 978-0-8128-1898-7. Page 133.
- "Axis Slovakia: Hitler's Slavic Wedge, 1938-1945", page 81
Other websites[change | change source]
- World War 2 Online Newspaper Archives - The Invasion of Poland, 1939
- The Campaign in Poland at WorldWar2 Database
- Fall Weiß - The Fall of Poland
- Agreement of Mutual Assistance Between the United Kingdom and Poland.-London, 25 August 1939.
- BBC portal dedicated to the start of WW II in Europe
- September 17, 1939 - Soviet aggression on Poland
- Invasion of Poland