Saturday, May 23, 2020

Polish Campaign (Fall Weiss)

The Polish campaign was the German and Soviet invasion of Poland, which triggered World War II. It took place from September 1 to October 6, 1939, ending with the division and annexation of the Polish territory to Germany and Russia. The German military campaign was fast, being carried out with sweeping pincers movement that encircled huge number of enemy troops. This new military tactic would be called "Blitzkrieg" (lightning war). Thus, this quick victory was made possible thanks to the use of independent armor divisions of the Wehrmacht, which were massively used to punch holes in the enemy lines. They had air support provided by the Luftwaffe dive bombers, such as the Junkers Ju 87, Stuka. This aircraft was so precise and lethal that can be called the "flying artillery", which was more effective than the army's howitzers.

Rationale for invading Poland

Germany had lost a lot of territory in the east and the seaport city of Danzig at the end of WW1. It was arbitrarily taken away from her by the Allies through the infamous Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1919, to create the Polish State, granting this new nation access to the Baltic Sea. This was known as the Polish corridor. To recover it and that coastal city, first Adolf Hitler ensured the success of the military operation by signing a non-aggression pact with Joseph Stalin on August 23, 1939, one week before the beginning of the campaign. This treaty stipulated that Poland would be split up in two and annexed both to Germany and the Soviet Union.

German operation code nameFall Weiss (Case White)

German military deployment

To attack Poland, the Wehrmacht deployed its military units in two army groups: 1) Army Group North, under General Fedor von Bock, which would invade Poland in two columns, one from Northeast Germany and the other from East Prussia; 2) Army Group South, commanded by General Gerd von Rundstedt, would also attack in two sweeping thrusts, one from Southeast Germany, and the other from Czechoslovakia, which had just been annexed to Germany.



Summary

The German invasion began in the early hours of September 1,1939, at 04:55 hours, with the 10th Army from Army Group South (AGS) crossing the border near the Polish town of Mokra. Spearheaded by the 4th and 1st Panzer Divisions, the Wehrmacht's forces quickly pushed eastwards, defeating the Polish 7th Infantry Division and the Volhynian Cavalry Brigade.

By September 20, supported by the Luftwaffe dive bombers and fighters aircraft, the 10th and 8th Army had converged around Warsaw with the 4th Army of Army Group North (AGN). Meanwhile, the 14th Army from AGS and the 3rd Army from AGN met at Brest-Litovsk, closing the jaws of the big pincers.

On September 17, the Red Army began the Russian invasion of Poland from the East, with the Belarussian and the Ukranian fronts (armies) advancing westwards. By September 22, the Polish Army had already been broken up by the German forces. The rest of the campaign consisted of mopping up operations. The last Polish Army division surrendered took place on October 6, 1939, to the Soviet forces.


German infantry troops in Poland in September 1939



Fall Weiss and the Blitzkrieg in Poland (original footage)

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