P is for… the Invasion of Poland

Troops of the 4th Signal Company (50th Signals Regiment, German Army) peeling potatoes near the town of Gross Wartenberg (today Syców), Lower Silesia, on the Polish border. Photograph taken in last days of August, prior to the invasion of Poland

On 1 September 1939 German forces, under the control of Hitler, bombarded Poland on land and from the air, thus starting the Second World War. Germany invaded Poland in order to regain lost territory, using a tactic that highlighted just how Hitler intended to wage war, in what became known as the ‘blitzkrieg’ strategy.[1] This approach was distinguished by extensive and repetitive bombing early on in the attack to destroy the enemy’s air capacity, railroads, communication lines and munitions dumps.[2] This was followed by a massive land invasion with overwhelming numbers of troops, tanks and artillery, which devastated huge amounts of territory, and removed any remaining resistance.[3]

Unfortunately, the Polish Army made several strategic miscalculations early on in the invasion. Although an approximate 1 million strong force, the army was considerably under-equipped and made the fatal error of attempting to take on the German forces head-on, rather than failing back to more defensive positions.[4] This, along with the Polish army’s outdated weapons and techniques only seemed to highlight Germany’s ability to combine air power and armour in a newly emerging kind of mobile warfare.[5] Despite fighting remarkably well, the Polish army was defeated within weeks.

Britain stood by their guarantee of Poland’s border, and therefore declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939. By 17 September, Poland found itself fighting a war on two fronts, when the Soviet Union invaded from the east. The Polish government fled the country and after heavy shelling and bombing, Warsaw surrender to the Germans on 27 September 1939, with resistance slowly collapsing until the last resistance of Polish units ended on 6 October.[6]

Street scene in occupied Warsaw after the capital was captured by the German Army, October 1939.

After the defeat of the Polish troops early in October, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union divided the country in accordance with a secret protocol to the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.[7] Germany directly annexed former Polish territories along its eastern border.[8] The remainder of German-occupied Poland was then organised as the so-called Generalgouvernement (General Government) under a civilian Governor General, the Nazi Party lawyer Hans Frank.[9]

Nazi Germany occupied the remainder of Poland when it invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, and almost all of Poland remained under German occupation until the Soviet offensive into eastern Poland in the summer of 1945.[10] Parts of Poland remained under German occupation until the end of January 1945.[11] Sadly, when Poland was eventually ‘liberated’ by the Soviet Union, a repressive communist regime was installed in replacement of the Nazi regime. Poland was trapped behind the so-called Iron Curtain until the Polish people finally managed to overthrow Communist rule in the 1980s.


[1] History, ‘Germany invades Poland,’ https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/germany-invades-poland

[2] History, ‘Germany invades Poland,’ https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/germany-invades-poland

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Holocaust Encyclopaedia, ‘Invasion of Poland, Fall 1939,’ https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/invasion-of-poland-fall-1939

[6] Holocaust Encyclopaedia, ‘Invasion of Poland, Fall 1939,’ https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/invasion-of-poland-fall-1939

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

[11] Ibid

[Image 1] Imperial War Museum (IWM), ‘The German-Soviet invasion of Poland, 1939,’ HU 5245, last accessed 3 October 2021, https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205373068

[Image 2] IWM, ‘The German-Soviet invasion of Poland, 1939,’ HU 5358, last accessed 3 October 2021, https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205093241


2 thoughts on “P is for… the Invasion of Poland

  1. Some letters lend themselves better than others to the eloquent criteria blogging of yours. Perhaps there are some which is worth to persist on.
    Looking forward your next, anyway.

    Like

    1. Hi Miguel, thanks for you comment and glad you’re look forward to reading more of my blogs! Can you expand on your comment a bit please? What do you mean when you say some letters lend themselves better than others? Which ones do you suggest are worth persisting on? Thank you😊

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s