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The 1939 Campaign

At the outbreak of the war, Polish army was able to put in the field almost one million soldiers, 2800 guns, 500 tanks and 400 aircraft. On the September 1st, the German forces set to war against Poland amounted to more than 1.5 million solders, 9000 guns, 2500 tanks and almost 2000 aircraft. The Red Army began the invasion sending in the first lot more than 620 000 soldiers, 4700 tanks and 3200 aircraft. Despite the overwhelming odds and the necessity of defense against the offensive in all directions, the Polish army fought for 35 days. Warsaw held until September 28th, the Polish garrison of Hel Peninsula for more than a month. The last battle against German troops took place on October 5.

Polish losses in combat against Germans (killed and missing in action) amounted to ca. 70 000. 420 000 were taken prisoners. Losses against the Red Army added up to 6000 to 7000 of casualties and MIA, 250 000 were taken prisoners. Of these, almost all of the officers were murdered in the spring on 1940 in Katyn, Kharkiv and Tver upon Stalin’s decision. Although the Polish army – considering the inactivity of the Allies – was in an unfavorable position – it managed to inflict serious losses to the enemies: 14 000 German soldiers were killed or MIA, 674 tanks and 319 armored vehicles destroyed or badly damaged, 230 aircraft shot down; the Red Army lost (killed and MIA) about 2500 soldiers, 150 combat vehicles and 20 aircraft. For many weeks Poland contained significant German forces, no advantage of this was taken by the Allies. Besides that, the necessity to reinforce the German military forces destroyed in Poland gave France and Great Britain more time to prepare to repulse invasion.



 
By: Andrzej Paczkowski
Paweł Sowiński
Dariusz Stola


Basic literature:
• Steven J. Zaloga, Poland 1939. The Birth of Blitzkrieg, London 2002
• Paweł Wieczorkiewicz, Kampania 1939 roku, Warszawa 2001
• Alexander B. Rossion, Hitler Strikes Poland. Blitzkrieg, Ideology, and Atrocity, Kansas 2003

September 1st, 1939 Sopot.
September 1st, 1939 Gdańsk.
1939. Polish positions at Mława.
1939. German horse-drawn artillery.
1939. German cavalry.

1939. The burning Westerplatte.
1939. German and Soviet patrol.
Polish Air Force in the campaign of 1939. Debris of the German Heinkel 111 aircraft.
Polish infantry in the campaign of 1939.
September 1939. Polish infantry.
September1939. Polish cavalry.
September 1939. Polish artillery.
September 1939. The exodus of the Polish civilians.
September 1939. The exodus of the Polish civilians.
September 1939. The exodus of the Polish civilians.
Polish field bunkers from the campaign of 1939.
Polish children during the campaign of 1939.
War devastaion in Poland. Garwolin, September 1939.
Burning Warsaw besieged. September 1939.
2nd motorized artillery squadron after crossing the Hungarian border. September 1939.
The execution of some 300 Polish prisoners of war by the soldiers of the German 15th motorized infantry regiment. Ciepielów, September 9th, 1939.
The German battleship "Schleswig-Holstein". September 1939
Soviet infantry invading Poland. September 1939.
German and Soviet soldiers.
German and Soviet soldiers.
German and Soviet soldiers.
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The 1939 Campaign