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Adolf Hitler's 1939 attack on Poland plan Fall Weiss
Hitler's Invasion Of Poland Friday 01 September 1939
Autumn is always Poland's finest season. Normally during the first six weeks of this time, refreshing rains would drench the dried landscape, rejuvenating the harvested fields and in consequence for a short time, turn the dilapidated road network (due to Russian and Austrian occupation over a hundred years) into a quagmire of thick greasy mud and rivers into swollen,raging torrents. But not this year.
September 01 1939 was unusually clear skied, dry, but devoid of the overwhelming heat of summer. It was the best time weather wise for any aggressor to attack. Aircraft had perfect visibility, both vehicles and tanks could move rapidly over dirt track roads and across dry river beds and to have this sort of weather before a battle you must rely only on pure luck.
As a twist of fate at 4.45am Adolph Hitler's operation Fall Weiss (white plan) was launched and fifty three divisions of the German Army commanded by General Von Brauchitsch cut through Poland's frontier at several points supported for the first time in the history of combat by close air and mobile ground support (Blitzkrieg tactics). Initial defences were overrun in hours and highly mobile armoured formations struck deep into the Polish interior.
However, surprisingly, the early successes were only of a superficial nature. The Polish Poznan army had retreated to protect the capital city Warsaw. Large numbers of Polish troops that remained cut-off behind German lines prepared for a protracted guerrilla action. The forts of Hel and Ggynia still held back large numbers of German troops. Near Lwow a large motorised attacking force was completely destroyed and many other places German forces were forced to retreat. The war was far from lost.
The Polish army had the solid belief in the pacts of solidarity that the West (France,Great Britain and Allies) had given them. If Poland was attacked then the West would come to their aid. The combined military weight of the West even with the new kind of mobile warfare was more than enough to finish off Hitler in 1939 and end things there and then, provided the linch pin of Poland was not knocked out before help could arrive.
With the out dated military equipment (all that a poor Polish agricultural economy of 35 million people could afford to an industrialised Germany 80 million people, although Poland had been very slowly re-equipping with modern planes and tanks to defend herself), time was all that was on the table' and being played for in the highest stakes imaginable.
The Polish army fought bitterly for every minute of it. It was well known that Germany could only sustain a conflict for around several months as most raw materials were imported and the majority imported from the Soviet Union.
Britain and France declared war true to the pacts, however (Britain and France declared war 11.15 Sep 3rd), both were far too slow to mobilise their armed forces and did little more than send send air raids of propaganda leaflets over Germany (no actual bombs), inaction that would cost both countries and the world dear thereafter. France was supposed to launch attacks at the minimum three days after any assault on Polish territory and full scale operations about two weeks after.
Adolf Hitler's 1939 attack on Poland - Fall Weiss
Germany expected that her 25 divisions that faced westward would be overwhelmed by the allies 110 divisions in strength, but gambled that the Allies would be two slow to respond (in the event Britain was only ready for action by October, even then entering into complete inactivity facing the German lines,a period called the Phoney War. This time period allowed the German forces to re-group and re-equip their worn out and damaged machines).
But the decisive factor was a secret pact between dictators Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin to carve up Poland's territory between themselves, the more surprising friendship as both had sent troops to the Spanish Civil war and fought bitterly against each other. On Sunday September 17th Russian forces attacked Poland along the entire immense length of her frontiers and organised Polish military resistance in her own country was at an end. But her soldiers were to fight on,everywhere, and by all means that they could do so.