Invasion of Poland

The invasion of Poland is a war led to full-blown World War 2. Since in 1795 Prussia, Russia and Austria divided up Poland, the independent nation of Poland had not existed. In the late period of World War I, Russia and Germany was successively defeated and there was vacuum of power in Poland. According to the Treaty of Versailles signed after the First World War, Poland once again became an independent state. The newly established Poland had a war in 1920 with the Soviet Union and gained victory. As for the both sides of Germany and the Soviet Union, the two countries both considered Poland as their own territory. In Germany, because of Poland’s independence, East Prussia and the local territory were separated, while the defeat of the Soviet Union in 1920 resulted that Poland regained more land. So both countries had a state of hostility with Poland. Some analysts pointed out that Poland before World War 2 rejected to ally with Germany and the Soviet Union, which was going after the far- at the expense of the near-at-hand. Instead, the alliance with Britain and France lead to the defeat of fate. This argument is completely out of ignorance of the regional situation. Nobody can ally with someone casts greedy eyes on all of its property.

As time goes by, Germany and the Soviet Union controlled respectively by the Nazi Party and the Communist Party, in 1939 already had one of the world’s most powerful military forces. After the First World War, the two countries remained military cooperation, although Germany and the Soviet Union had ideology similar but hostile to each other. In 1939, Germany had a population of 90 million people and the Soviet Union had 170 million people, while Poland had only 35 million. In the same period, there were only 88 million in native Britain and France in total. Since Germany and the Soviet Union paid particular emphasis on the development of military power, the population gap could probably result in a greater military. Therefore, it is understandable that after reaching a secret agreement concerning the partition of Poland with the Soviet Union, Hitler’s attack on Poland was not entirely a military adventure. Hitler prepared the war for both eventualities. He reckoned Britain and France would commence diplomatic negotiations rather than to declare war on Germany to fulfill their obligations to Poland to after the rapid defeat of Poland. And if Britain and France declared war on Germany, Germany alone had military force equivalent to that of Britain and France together. The aid from Russia could offset the negative impact of the economic blockade brought by Britain and France. In addition, if Britain and France declared war on Germany and the Soviet Union at the same time, they could have the advantage of military force of three against one. The Allied on the other hand was in a completely disadvantaged status. Only in one condition they could gain an advantage for the war against Germany, which was that Poland could withstand the overwhelming German offensive and the Soviet Union maintained strict neutrality. In the case that Germany and the Soviet Union had reached an agreement. Poland was a strategic disadvantage of one against seven and fought on the two fronts, so the defeat result was almost certain. After the war broke out, Britain and France adopted a compromise approach. They declared war on Germany that launched the first attack and pretended not knowing the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland and the three Baltic states simultaneously. They even did not take any diplomatic action in the League of Nations against the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was not expelled by the League of Nations until the outbreak of the Winter War. This result shows that Britain and France on one hand wanted to fulfill their treaty obligations, but on the other hand would not allow a treaty obligation to place themselves in danger.

After the war, the Germans attacked Poland from both north and south directions simultaneously. German ground forces had advantages in troop size and equipment while the Air Force had greater advantage. And maritime operations did not constitute a factor of deciding the war, so comparisons are not made here. German surprise attack tactics were very effective. In the beginning stages of the battle, the Germans defeated and destroyed a lot of troops near the border of Poland. Before the war, main Polish troops were deployed in the western region. The region was densely populated and industrially developed and really needed protection. The disadvantage was that the area was difficult to defend. If the main force of Poland were deployed east of the Vistula River, it would suffer much less losses. But consequently Poland would lose a lot of population and industrial base and would be eventually defeated. The main direction of the Germans was the region of southwestern Poland. Since the Czech Republic had been annexed by Germany, the Polish troops deployed in this region were in a very passive situation before the war.

About a week after the war, the German vanguard arrived at the Warsaw City. Poland in order to gain time to consolidate the defense of Warsaw, the troops mainly consisted of Poznań Army were ordered to launch a counterattack against the Germans, which obtained early success and even captured the 4000 German soldiers. But the Germans immediately mobilized large numbers of troops to outflank the wings of the counterattacking forces. Ultimately, counterattack failed on the date of 19 and the counterattacking troops of more than 200,000 people were annihilated.

At the same time when Poland tried aggressively to create a new line of defense, the Soviet Union saw the Germans advancing rapidly and feared of losing the regions obtained through the agreement. On September 17, the Soviet Union launched the invasion against eastern Poland. So far, Poland was attacked from the east and the west and the defense showed a tendency to fall apart. The capital Warsaw was also completely surrounded by the Germans and finally surrendered to the Germans on Sept. 28.

While fighting fiercely on the east line, Britain and France on September 3 declared war on Germany. But because of lack of preparation and conservative commanding, French army only carried out small-scale military operations against Germany on 7 September. And in the absence of any major battle, the French army a week later returned to France. Military action on the west line did not have any impact on the Polish war at all.

Polish government officials fled to the West after the war, and set up a government in exile. However, the government eventually returned to Poland 50 years later, most of the time during which a Soviet-supported Communist government was established and ruled the country.

Analyzing from the post-war results, the Germans was superior to the Polish army in the equipment, but the main advantage was still troop size. Poland had advanced tanks, planes and artillery. However, owing to the overall national strength gap, the equipment number was far less than that of the Germans. Facing overwhelming German air force during the war, the ratio of the losses of the air forces of the two sides was basically one to one. Polish pilots later fled to the United Kingdom to participate in the Air Battle of Britain and achieved good results. Additionally, Nazi propagandized that Polish cavalry attacked German tanks was not true. Polish army was equipped with a large number of anti-tank weapons, and the equipped 7TP tank could destroy most of the German tanks. But the tanks were in very small number and could not change the situation. Polish cavalry unit was a rapidly moving unit achieved some victories. In the face of infantry not supported by armored units, cavalry could still effectively attack.

The Allies’ major defeat in the Battle of Poland was the strategy and tactical inappropriateness accelerated the pace of being defeated. To thwart German offensive, the Allies should take decisive actions before Nazi reoccupied the Rhineland. And it was still not too late to take action even when Germany built Siegfried Line. After this fortification consuming concrete and steel more than twice of the French Maginot Line was built, the French army was unable to fight the Germans quickly. Then came 1939 when the dictators were ready to carve up the world, it was too late.

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