Monday, September 1, 2008

Fall Weiß

At dawn on September 1st, the Luftwaffe struck at Polish airfields destroying most of the planes before they could get off the ground. With control of the skies assured the wicked Wehrmacht began the systematic destruction of railroads and the few communications nodes. From the very outset the Poles mobilization plan was seriously compromised. Before the day ended, chaos reigned at Polish Army Headquarters.

The first phase of the campaign, fought on the frontiers was over by September 5th and the morning of the 7th found reconnaissance elements of Army Group South’s 10th Army just 36 miles southwest of Warsaw. Meanwhile, also on September 5th, Bock’s Army Group North had cut across the corridor and turned southeast for Warsaw. Units of the 3rd Army reached the banks of the River Narew on September 7th, just 25 miles north of Warsaw. The fast moving armored panzer 'Schwerpunkts' of blitzing attacks left the immobile Polish armies cut up, surrounded and out of supply.

Meanwhile the closing of the inner ring at Warsaw witnessed some tough fighting as the Polish Poznan Army, bypassed in the first week of the war, changed heading and attacked toward Warsaw to the southeast. The German 8th and 10th Armies were put to the test as they were forced to turn some divisions completely around to meet the desperate Polish assault. In the end the gallant attack fell short and by September 19th the Poznan Army surrendered some 100,000 men and Poland’s last intact army.

As this was occurring the second, deeper envelopment led by General Heinz Guderian’s panzers took the city of Brest-Litovsk on September 17th, and continued past the city where they made contact with the 10th Army spearhead at Wlodowa 30 miles to the south. The war, for all practical purposes was over by September 17th. Lvov surrender on the 19th. Warsaw held out until September 27th and the last organized resistance ended October 6th with the surrender of 17,000 Polish soldiers at Kock.

The campaign had lasted less than two months and ended in the destruction of the Polish Army and the fourth partition of Poland. German losses were surprisingly heavy considering the brevity of the campaign.

German casualties total some 48,000 of which 16,000 were killed. Fully one quarter of the panzers the German committed to battle were lost to Polish anti-panzer guns. The Luftwaffe was forced to write off some 550 aircraft.

It was not a cheap victory by any means but it did confirm to the generals of the Wehrmacht that the military machine that they had built was indeed the best in the world and worthy of their confidence.

Reaction around the world on 1 Sept 1939?

France - mobilized her military and demanded Deutschland withdraw from Poland.

Great Britain - mobilized her army and RAF (the Navy was mobilized the day before) and demanded Germany withdraw from Poland.

Italy - Announced no military plans or iniatives.

Russia - warned concern for civilian population of Russian descent and fear of Polish bandits would warrant armed intervention. She also mobilized her military.

Great Satan - Demanded a halt of indescriminate bombing of towns and civilians.

Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Swiss - announced neutrality

Deutschland - "Determined to eliminate insecurity and perpetual civil war from the borders of the Reich"

Poland - appealed to Great Britain and France to intervene in honour of the Mutual Assistance Treaty of 1939.

1 September is the day an old world order was violently overturned, chock full of lessons, promises and harbingers that echo still today.


Findalis said...

September 1 will be forever known as the "official" start of WW2. But it just was the start of the shooting war. This war started the moment Hitler took power in Germany. For world domination and conquest was Hitler's goal. The same goal that Islam has today.

Shane said...

When the Girlfriend writes about a world tumbling into calamity like that, all I can think of is to grab somebody sweet and warm and create life. How many do you think, upon hearing this news on a cool September day, spent it wrapped in arms and lost in lovemaking as peace fled and promises melted away?

TELL me not, Sweet, I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
As thou too shalt adore;
I could not love thee, Dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

- Richard Lovelace, "To Lucasta, Going To the Wars"

kevin said...

I thought the poster said "Liberals attack Palin"

Photoshop anyone?

Anyway, great post.

Skunkfeathers said...

October 1, 1938: Germany moves into the Sudetenland, effectively gutting Czechoslovakia, at the appeasing approval of Britain and France, who believed (until March 17, 1939, when the scales finally fell from the eyes of Neville Chamberlain) that this appeasement promised "peace in our time".

Instead, it undercut a valiant, well-armed ally, destroyed France's credibility and strategic stance with allied nations in southwestern Europe, and guaranteed that World War II was going to happen.

Now in early September, 2008, we learn that surrogates of Obama are meeting clandestinely with surrogates of Iran's "destroy Israel" leader. Can you say "lessons of appeasement unlearned, 70 years later"?

Damned right you can.