Polish contribution to the Allied victory in World War 2 (1939-1945)

Poland was the only country to fight in the European theatre of war from the first to the last day of the greatest armed conflict in the history of mankind. The war began with invading Poland: first, on September 1, 1939, by the Nazi Germany, soon after, on September 17, by the Soviet Union. Both invaders acted in concert, upon the Ribbentrop – Molotov Treaty (concluded on August 23). The allies of Poland – Great Britain and France – declared war upon Germany on September 3rd, but did not undertake any efficient military actions (the so-called “Phony War”). The Soviet Union joined the anti-Nazi alliance only in the summer of 1941, when invaded by Germany. The United States, although they gave a lot of significant material aid, joined the military actions in December 1941 when assaulted by Japan and when Germany declared war upon them.

The most important features of the Polish contribution to the defeat of Germany are determination and perseverance. Despite the severe defeat in 1939, the Poles formed five more armies, including four in exile: in France in 1939, in the United Kingdom in the summer of 1940 (after the defeat and capitulation of France), and twice in the USSR in 1941. These were the army of Gen. Anders that fought later in the South of Europe, and the one that emerged in 1943 and later fought at the Red Army’s side. The fifth Polish army, created at the end of September of 1939 was the conspiratorial armed force in the occupied territory. For the entire period of the war there also existed the very important “silent front” – the intelligence.  Probably up to 2 millions Poles served since September 1st, 1939 to May 8th, 1945 in all the Polish military formations – regular armies, partisan troops and underground forces. In the final stage of war the Polish troops on all the European fronts amounted to some 600 000 soldiers (infantry, armored troops, aircraft and navy). In the summer of 1944, while commencing regular military struggle against the retreating Germans, the armed underground numbered more than 300 thousands sworn soldiers. It can be concluded that Poland put in the field the fourth greatest Allied army.

By: Andrzej Paczkowski
Paweł Sowiński
Dariusz Stola

Basic literature:
• Józef Garliński, Poland in the Second World War, 1939-1945, London 1985
• ed. Edward Pawłowski, Wojsko Polskie w II Wojnie Światowej, Warszawa 1995

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Polish contribution to the Allied victory in World War 2 (1939-1945)