Poland Betrayed: The Nazi-Soviet Invasions of 1939

Overview

Hitler's attack on Poland in 1939 was the first brutal act in six years of world war, but the campaign is often overshadowed by the momentous struggle that followed across the rest of Europe. David Williamson, in this timely and thought-provoking study, reconstructs each stage of the battle in graphic detail. He looks at the precarious situation of the Polish nation caught between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, reconsiders the pre-war policies of the other European powers, particularly France and Britain, and...
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Poland Betrayed: The Nazi-Soviet Invasions of 1939

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Overview

Hitler's attack on Poland in 1939 was the first brutal act in six years of world war, but the campaign is often overshadowed by the momentous struggle that followed across the rest of Europe. David Williamson, in this timely and thought-provoking study, reconstructs each stage of the battle in graphic detail. He looks at the precarious situation of the Polish nation caught between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, reconsiders the pre-war policies of the other European powers, particularly France and Britain, and assesses the state of the opposing armed forces before the Germans launched Operation White. In a vivid and fast-moving narrative he follows the course of the campaign as it moved across Poland in September 1939.

His book should encourage a fresh understanding of the Polish-German war and of its significance for the wider conflagration that followed. Critical episodes in the German offensive are re-examined: the mock attack at Gleiwitz, the battles at Westerplatte and Bzura, the siege of Warsaw and the impact of the intervention of the Red Army. Throughout the narrative, first-hand accounts of soldiers and civilians who were caught up in events are used to give an insight into the experience of the war. The author dispels myths that persist about the course of the campaign - the apparent destruction of the Polish air force, the Poles' use of cavalry - and he draws attention to often overlooked flaws in German military organization. He also records the immediate aftermath of the Polish capitulation - the division of Poland between Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union and the fate of the captured Polish troops.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844159260
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Limited
  • Publication date: 9/19/2009
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Maps and Illustrations viii

Acknowledgements x

Background 1

Poland: The Crucified Nation 1

Emergence of the New Poland 1918-20 2

Enemies of the New Polish State 6

Development of Poland 1919-38 8

The Re-Emergence of Germany and Russia as Major Military Powers 10

Germany Rearms 10

Development of Soviet Armed Forces 14

Rebirth of Poland's Armed Forces 1919-39 17

Air Defence 23

The Navy 25

Industrial Mobilization 26

Poland's Triumph: Breaking the Nazi Codes 30

From the Anschluss to the Seizure of Teschen 32

Poland, Danzig and the British Guarantee 36

The German Response 40

Too Little and Too Late 41

Polish Civil Defence Preparations 1938-39 47

Plans 'W' and 'Z' 48

Polish Air and Naval Plans 52

Fall Weiss 54

Countdown to War 56

The Nazi-Soviet Pact 58

War Postponed for a Week 60

Campaign Chronicle 63

Preliminary Incidents 63

31 August 1939: The Wehrmacht's Orders 64

1-17 September: Fighting in Danzig, Westerplatte and the Coastal Regions 65

1-6 September: Rout of the Polish Air Force 69

1-7 September: The Land War 80

Elimination of the Corridor 80

Massacres and Reprisals in Bydgoszcz 83

The German Advance from East Prussia 85

All Quiet in the Poznań Salient 86

The German Breakthrough in the South-west 87

Britain and France Declare War 97

8-17 September: Battle of the Bzura 100

10-20 September: The Situation Elsewhere 107

7-27 September: The Siege of Warsaw 110

17 September: The Soviets Intervene 116

17-30 September: The Russo-Polish War 120

The Soviet Occupation of Lwów 125

21-28 September: Germany and Russia Decide Poland's Fate 128

22September-6 October: Mopping Up 129

19 September-2 October: Modlin and the Hel Peninsula 130

17-30 September: Exodus of the Fortunate Few 132

31 August-14 October: The Polish Navy Escapes to Britain 136

September-December 1939: Escape from Internment 140

October 1939-May 1940: The Poles Fight On 144

Aftermath 151

The German Zones 151

The Russian Zones 155

Prisoners of War 157

Katyń 159

Resistance 160

Assessment 163

Appendices

Appendix I Chronology of Major Events 171

Appendix II Biographies of Key Figures 177

Appendix III Glossary and Abbreviations 185

Appendix IV Orders of Battle 187

Appendix V Survivors' Reminiscences 197

Sources 219

Index 223

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