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Invasion of Poland (1939)

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Invasion of Poland (1939)
Part of World War II
Second World War Europe.png
The map shows the beginning of the Second World War in September 1939 in a wider European context.
Date 1 September – 6 October 1939
Location Poland
Result Decisive German/Slovak and Soviet victory. Beginning of World War II
Polish territory divided between Germany, the USSR, Lithuania and Slovakia
Slovakia Slovakia

Soviet Union Soviet Union (After September 17, see details)

Poland Poland
Commanders and leaders
Nazi Germany Fedor von Bock
(Army Group North)

Nazi Germany Gerd von Rundstedt
(Army Group South)

Slovakia Ferdinand Čatloš
(Army Bernolák)

Soviet Union Kliment Voroshilov
(Belorussian Front)

Soviet Union Mikhail Kovalev
(Belorussian Front)

Soviet Union Semyon Timoshenko
(Ukrainian Front)

Poland Edward Rydz-Śmigły
60 divisions,
6 brigades,
9,000 guns,[1]
2,750 tanks,
2,315 aircraft[2]
3 divisions

Joined on 17 September:
Soviet Union:
33+ divisions,
11+ brigades,
4,959 guns,
4,736 tanks,
3,300 aircraft

1,500,000 Germans,[1]
466,516 Soviets,[3]
51,306 Slovaks
Grand total: 2,000,000+

39 divisions (some of them were never fully mobilized and concentrated),[4]
16 brigades,[4]
4,300 guns,[4]
880 tanks,
400 aircraft[1]
Total: 950,000[Note 1]
Casualties and losses
Germany:[Note 2]
16,343 killed,
3,500 missing,[11]
30,300 wounded
37 killed,
11 missing,
114 wounded[12]

USSR:[Note 3]
1,475 killed or missing,
2,383 wounded

Poland:[Note 4]
66,000 dead,
133,700 wounded,
694,000 captured

The Invasion of Poland in 1939 was a military offensive in which Nazi Germany and later the Soviet Union invaded Poland. It was the start of World War II in Europe. The invasion took place from 1 September to 6 October 1939. The invasion of Poland caused Britain and France to declare war on Germany on 3 September; they did little to affect the September Campaign. In the end, Poland lost and Germany and the Soviet Union divided the country, following a treaty signed years before the war.

This was the first time The Blitzkrieg was tried on the battlefield, proving very effective against the old and ineffective Polish Army, which was outflanked, outmaneuvered, and outnumbered on September 1939, which proved deadly for the Polish Army. It took the Polish Army by surprise and easily were destroyed by the Blitzkrieg. One of the reasons the Polish were destroyed was of the ineffective and in mobilized Polish Army, which if well prepare coud had a force of 2 million soldiers.

The invasion came directly from the Gleiwitz incident, where German soldiers dressed as Polish troops occupied a radio station and transmitted Anti-German messages. The next morning German forces pushed the Polish defenders from the border back to inland Poland. After the Battle of the Bzura the Polish were forced to defend Warsaw, while the rest defended the Polish-Romanian border, waiting for the long awaited Allied support which was in the campaign very limited.

The Polish saw how there country was destroyed by war, as there newest enemy The Soviet Union atacked the Polish on the 17th of September, destroying all hopes of a Polish victory. The Polish government ordered that all forces retreat to Romania through the border. After the occupation of Poland the remaining Polish forces joined the Western Allies, while some joined the Russian on their fight against Germany.


  1. Various sources contradict each other so the figures quoted above should only be taken as a rough indication of the strength estimate. The most common range differences and their brackets are: German personnel 1,500,000 (official figure of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs) – or 1,800,000. Polish tanks: 100–880, 100 is the number of modern tanks, while the 880 number includes older tanks from the WWI era and tankettes.[5][6]
  2. The discrepancy in German casualties can be attributed to the fact that some German statistics still listed soldiers as missing decades after the war. Today the most common and accepted numbers are: 8,082 to 16,343 KIA, 320 to 5,029 MIA, 27,280 to 34,136 WIA.[7] For comparison, in his 1939 speech following the Polish Campaign Adolf Hitler presented these German figures: 10,576 KIA, 30,222 WIA, and 3,400 MIA.[8] According to early Allied estimates, including those of the Polish government-in-exile, the number of German KIA casualties was 90,000 and WIA casualties was 200,000[8][9] Equipment losses are given as 832 German tanks [10] of with approximately 236[10] to 341 as irrecoverable losses and approximately 319 other armoured vehicles as irrecoverable losses (including 165 Panzer Spahwagen – of them 101 as irrecoverable losses)[10] 522–561 German planes (including 246–285 destroyed and 276 damaged), 1 German minelayer (M-85) and 1 German torpedo ship ("Tiger")
  3. Soviet official losses are estimated at 737 to 1,475 KIA or MIA (Ukrainian Front – 972, Belorussian Front – 503, and 1,859 to 2,383 WIA (Ukrainian Front – 1,741, Belorussian Front – 642). The Soviets lost approximately 150 tanks in combat of which 43 as irrecoverable losses, while hundreds more suffered technical failures.[3]
  4. Various sources contradict each other so the figures quoted above should only be taken as a rough indication of losses. The most common range brackets for casualties are: Poland: 66,000 to 70,000 KIA, 134,000 WIA.[7] The often cited figure of 420,000 Polish prisoners of war represents only those captured by the Germans, as Soviets captured about 250,000 Polish POWs themselves, making the total number of Polish POWs about 660,000–690,000. In terms of equipment the Polish Navy lost 1 destroyer (ORP Wicher), 1 minelayer (ORP Gryf) and several support craft. Equipment losses included 132 Polish tanks and armoured cars 327 Polish planes (118 fighters))[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The 1939 Campaign Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2005 Archived 16 January 2010 at WebCite
  2. E.R Hooton, p85
  3. 3.0 3.1 Кривошеев Г. Ф., Россия и СССР в войнах XX века: потери вооруженных сил. Статистическое исследование (Krivosheev G. F., Russia and the USSR in the wars of the 20th century: losses of the Armed Forces. A Statistical Study Greenhill 1997 ISBN 978-1-85367-280-4) (Russian)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Переслегин. Вторая мировая: война между реальностями.- М.:Яуза, Эксмо, 2006, с.22; Р. Э. Дюпюи, Т. Н. Дюпюи. Всемирная история войн.—С-П,М: АСТ, кн.4, с.93
  5. Internetowa encyklopedia PWN, article on 'Kampania Wrześniowa 1939'
  6. Website of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs – the Poles on the Front Lines
  7. 7.0 7.1 Wojna Obronna Polski 1939, page 851
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Polish War, German Losses". The Canberra Times. 13 Oct 1937. Retrieved 2009-01-17.
  9. "Nazi Loss in Poland Placed at 290,000". The New York Times. 1941. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 KAMIL CYWINSKI, Waffen und Geheimwaffen des deutschen Heeres 1933-1945
  11. The encyclopedia of modern war By Roger Parkinson Taylor & Francis, ISBN 978-0-8128-1898-7. Page 133.
  12. "Axis Slovakia: Hitler's Slavic Wedge, 1938-1945", page 81

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