Operations in Poland
Attack and Breakthrough
The German attack was a tactical surprise to the Polish Army, despite both the troop concentrations the Polish High Command knew were taking place beyond the frontier and the worsening diplomatic situation. The Polish Government had ordered a general mobilization on 30 August, but many reservists were still en route to join their organizations and some units were in the process of movement to concentration areas or defensive positions when the Wehrmacht commenced operations. Hitler's headquarters, OKW, was in Berlin at the time of the attack, while OKH directed the Army effort from a field headquarters at Zossen, outside the Reich capital.
The Opening of the Attack
The German Air Force commenced hostilities at 0440 by bombing Polish air bases at widely separated points throughout the country. A few minutes later the Schleswig-Holstein commenced shelling the Polish fortress of Westerplatte in Danzig Harbor at a range of only several hundred yards. The brief but heavy bombardment was followed by the landing of a small German force, which was immediately driven off by the Poles.
The Polish destroyer Wicker was sunk defending the port of Gdynia against air attack and bombardment by light German naval units. All five Polish submarines were at sea; three escaped to internment in Sweden, while the Orzel and Wilk managed to reach safety in Britain.6-1 In the waters offshore, German surface, submarine, and air forces quickly established a tight blockade of the Polish port areas.
German ground troops at some points exchanged fire with Polish Army patrols and border police as the Army crossed the frontier. This scattered resistance was quickly overcome and the Poles were forced to withdraw before superior German force and firepower. The German ground forces experienced the usual confusion of troops coming under fire for the first time. Incidents were reported of artillery
Figure 10. The battleship Schleswig-Holstein.
and tanks firing on friendly forces. Despite a number of minor reverses, fire discipline and control by unit commanders were quickly established and German ground operations proceeded on schedule.
At 1000 on 1 September Hitler reported the opening of hostilities to the assembled Reichstag in the Kroll Opera House in Berlin. According to Hitler, the Wehrmacht was defending German territory and taking necessary counteraction to an organized Polish attack. The Fuehrer stated further that he had no quarrel with Great Britain or France, and was desirous of reaching agreement with both western powers. Hitler also announced that in the event he were to become a casualty, his successor would be Hermann Goering, a clear indication of the degree of authority Hitler had attained over Germany.6-2
Army Group North, 1-3 September6-3
The Opening BattlesVisibility was limited by a heavy mist the morning of 1 September as Bock's Army Group North moved into Poland. Third Army debouched from East Prussia in a drive south on Warsaw with its I Corps and Corps Wodrig in line, and southwestward on Grudziadz with its XXI Corps. Fourth Army attacked eastward across the Corridor from Pomerania, and Danzig was taken without a struggle by Brigade Eberhard. [See map 7.]
Rapid progress was made during the morning of 1 September on the Third Army front. During the afternoon the Third Army force
Polish fortification near Mlawa.
moving on Warsaw encountered strong resistance from the Polish 8th and 20th Infantry Divisions and the Novogrodsha Cavalry Brigade in the Mlawa area. German tank attacks were stopped with heavy loss by antitank fire from Mlawa's concrete fortifications.
Fourth Army engaged elements of the Pomorska Cavalry Brigade at the outset of operations in the Corridor, but the Polish cavalrymen withdrew before the German advance. By noon it was apparent to Fourth Army that the Pomorze Army was attempting to withdraw to the south and east. Later in the afternoon elements of the Polish 9th Infantry Division were also identified on the Fourth Army front. Army group intelligence estimated that the Poles were much weaker in the Corridor than anticipated, though they were still believed capable of making a stand behind the Brda (Brahe) River, dividing the lower Corridor.
Third Army Operations, 2 SeptemberTczew (Dirschau) was taken by an engineer task force of Third Army at dawn on l2 September, but the city's vital bridge across the Vistula was destroyed by the Poles. The task force, known as Group Medem, was unable to seize a crossing and Army Group North had to direct other units to effect crossings at Gniew (Mewe) and near Marienwerder. Third Army's XXI Corps fought off heavy Polish counterattacks in its advance toward Grudziadz on 2 September. The bridge across the Vistula at Grudziadz was kept under artillery fire to prevent crossing
The Tczew (Dirschau) Bridge destroyed by the Poles.
the Poles and the corps prepared to make concerted attacks against the city from north and east the following day.
On the Mlawa front I Corps failed to make any further progress, but Corps Wodrig units broke through Polish field fortifications east of the fortress city and pushed south. Panzer Division Kempf was promptly detached from the I Corps and shifted eastward to support Corps Wodrig in its advance. The Third Army plan for the force moving on Warsaw was quickly revised. Corps Wodrig was to execute an enveloping movement to take the Polish units defending Mlawa in the rear, while the 1st Cavalry Brigade secured the exposed left of the corps as it turned in its swing to the west. The two corps and the cavalry brigade would resume their southward movement in line after destroying the Polish force at Mlawa or compelling it to withdraw.
Fourth Army Operations, 2 SeptemberFourth Army crossed the Brda during the second day of hostilities, advancing within a few miles of the Vistula. The apprehensions about a strong Polish defense line along the Brda did not materialize. The success of the German advance was threatened for a few hours, however, when Panzer elements of XIX Corps outran their gasoline and ammunition supply. The Poles failed to gain any but a temporary advantage from this situation, and German supply columns fought their way through withdrawing Polish units to the stalled tanks.
German 20-ton ponton bridge across the Vistual at Gniew (Mewe).
Fourth Army gains of 2 September sealed off the Pomorze Army's 9th Infantry Division and Pomorska Cavalry Brigade, and the 27th Infantry Division, which had been identified farther east in the Corridor. The two Polish infantry divisions were destroyed in a number of attempts to escape through the line formed by the German forces that had crossed the base of the Corridor. The cavalry brigade was shattered in a series of charges against XIX Corps' armor, pitting mounted lancers against tanks.
The 10th Panzer Division of the army group reserve was shifted to the northeast across Fourth Army's rear on 2 September. Bock planned to effect a crossing in the northern area of the Corridor with a strong Panzer force as soon as possible.
The Junction of Third and Fourth ArmiesThird Army's XXI Corps identified the Pomorze Army's 16th Infantry Division in the Grudziadz area on 3 September, and its 4th Infantry Division to the east of the city. Heavy air attacks on the 4th Infantry Division broke up the Polish threat to the left flank of XXI Corps, and the corps continued to advance southwestward to drive out the Polish 16th Infantry Division and enter Grudziadz. Despite heavy losses, the two Polish divisions succeeded in withdrawing in good order to the south and east, while rear guards fought a strong delaying action within the city itself.
On the Mlawa front the Mazowiecka Cavalry Brigade was identified before Third Army's Corps Wodrig. The I Corps, supported
by the attack of Corps Wodrig from the east, broke into the Mlawa defenses and forced the stubborn defenders to withdraw.
Fourth Army sent the 10th Panzer Division across the Corridor just below Danzig and into East Prussia immediately upon the division's attachment from army group reserve on 3 September. The 207th Infantry Division turned to the north after the Panzer units had passed, and forced the Polish forces still in the upper area of the Corridor to withdraw toward Gdynia. Other Fourth Army units cleared the area of the lower Corridor, established contact with Third Army units at Nowe Swiecie (Neuenburg), and launched a series of heavy attacks against the Pomorze Army's 15th Infantry Division in position north of Bydgoszcz.
The first phase of the campaign in the north was completed on 3 September with the linking of the Third and Fourth Armies. The Pomorze Army force assigned to the defense of the Corridor proper had been destroyed, with a loss of 15,000 men in prisoners alone, 90 field pieces, and large stocks of matériel. The Modlin Army, from which the Germans claimed to have captured 10,000 prisoners, had been forced to withdraw southward from the Mlawa area. The Corridor was cut at base and center. The northern end of the Corridor and the fortress of Westerplatte in Danzig Harbor remained in Polish hands, but under constant attack by German ground, air, and sea forces. The Podlaska Cavalry Brigade of the Narew Group made several local penetrations into East Prussia in the area held by Corps Brand during this period of operations. These actions received much publicity in the foreign press but affected the campaign very little. [See map 8.]
Army Group South, 1-6 September6-4
The Advance to the Warta (Warthe)The morning of 1 September was clear on the front of Rundstedt's Army Group South, which had the advantage of air reconnaissance as it moved into Poland. Eighth Army, on the left, advanced toward Lodz and protected Tenth Army's north flank. Tenth Army, in the center of the army group line, struck out in the direction of Warsaw with the strongest concentration of armor in either army group. Fourteenth Army, on the right, moved toward the industrial area about Cracow and into Galicia, protecting the south flank of the main attack force. [See map 7.]
Forward elements of Army Group South penetrated three to four miles into Poland by 0600. Steady progress was reported until 1400, when the army group commander was informed that the retreating
Poles had demolished numerous bridges and even blown up stretches of roadway to slow the German armored and motorized columns. Tenth Army also reported resistance by rear guards, an engagement with elements of the Wolynska Cavalry Brigade, and several incidents of civilians firing on German troops.
No protracted resistance was encountered, and by late afternoon some Army Group South units had advanced as much as 15 miles. The tactics of the new war of movement were first demonstrated during this period of operations. When their armored columns were fired upon or held up by obstacles, the Germans deployed their tank units off the roads and continued their forward move. When necessary, the Luftwaffe was called upon to support the advance by dive bombing centers of Polish resistance. Polish units bypassed by the German armor were engaged by infantry units following the tanks.
Eighth Army reported the 10th Infantry Division of the Lodz Army withdrawing toward Kalisz (Kalisch) and the 14th and 25th Infantry Divisions and Wielkopolska Cavalry Brigade of the Poznan Army retreating to the north and east. Tenth Army reported the Polish 7th Infantry Division and Krakowska Cavalry Brigade of the Cracow Army and the 28th and 30th Infantry Divisions and Wolynska Cavalry Brigade of the Lodz Army to be withdrawing to the east. Most of the first day's fighting on the Eighth and Tenth Army fronts was carried on between Polish rear guards and German reconnaissance elements or the advance guard of German armored and motorized units.
Fourteenth Army reconnaissance troops and Slovak units on the right of the army front captured a number of villages in the area immediately to the north of the Slovak frontier by the close of the first day. Other Fourteenth Army units drove elements of the Rzeszow Armored Cavalry Brigade from the Novy Targ (Neumarkt) region, and cleared the Jablunka Pass and the area for several miles to the north of the pass of the Cracow Army's 21st Mountain Division after hard fighting. The Polish 5th Infantry Division from the general reserve and the 6th Infantry Division of the Cracow Army were forced to withdraw in the direction of Cracow, and the Cracow Army's 23d Infantry Division fell back to the northeast of the city. Units on the left flank of Fourteenth Army then found themselves confronted by strong permanent fortifications guarding the approaches to the industrial complex in the southwest of Poland.
The attack of Army Group South was resumed at 0600 on 2 September. The Poles resisted stubbornly at Mikolow (Nibolai), in the fortifications before Katowice (Kattowitz), and about Czestochowa (Tschenstochau). Eighth Army crossed the upper Prosna, Tenth Army reached the Warta above Czestochowa in its zone of advance,
and Fourteenth Army divisions fought their way forward to converge north of Novy Targ.
Their movements made it apparent to Rundstedt that the Poles intended to establish a defensive line along the Warta River, and hold out in such fortified areas as Katowice and Czestochowa as long as possible. The Germans also found an increasing number of demolitions and other obstacles to the movement of armored and motorized units. A number of reservists sufficient to form two provisional divisions were sent to reinforce the Polish units facing Eighth Army. Elements of several infantry divisions from the Polish general reserve also moved into the area beyond the Warta in the Tenth Army's zone of advance.
Czestochowa was taken on the morning of 3 September, and Tenth Army seized several bridgeheads across the Warta despite determined Polish resistance. Fourteenth Army fought its way through the fortifications about Katowice and Mikolow in its zone of advance, and moved east along the Vistula. The southern Polish armies, bypassed in numerous places by the fast-moving German columns, began a hurried withdrawal. The troops on the front noted a marked decrease in Polish resistance and made extensive gains.
The Advance across the Polish Plain and into GaliciaBy the morning of 4 September Army Group South estimated the withdrawing Poznan Army incapable of launching a heavy attack on the exposed left flank of the Eighth Army as it advanced northeastward. Tenth Army had virtually destroyed the Cracow Army's 7th Infantry Division and taken 1,000 prisoners, including the division commander. Heavy losses had also been inflicted on the Krakowska Cavalry Brigade. Tenth Army's Panzer divisions continued the drive eastward, moving beyond Radomsko, while two light divisions protected the right flank of the Panzer units and advanced to the Pilica River. Fourteenth Army reported the destruction of the Cracow Army's 6th Infantry Division and a general Polish withdrawal toward Cracow and the east.
The XXII Corps was operational under Fourteenth Army control on 4 September and advancing northward in the Novy Targ sector, with a Panzer, a mountain, and a light division attached. The XVIII Corps, which had controlled these three divisions the morning of the attack, had been withdrawn to assume control of two mountain divisions on the right front of the army and make a crossing into Poland farther to the east.
Additional gains were reported by all three armies on 5 September. Eighth Army was advancing rapidly to the northeast, while its X Corps presented a front to the north. Several battalions of the IV
Frontier Command, a regiment of the 62d Infantry Division, and elements of the 252d Infantry Division crossed the Reich frontier to fill the gap formed as Eighth Army moved farther eastward. The frontier command and the infantry units were immediately organized into a task force known as Group Gienanth and given responsibility for the defense of Army Group South's exposed left flank. As Eighth Army continued to move eastward the front presented by the X Corps became more extended despite the relief afforded by the commitment of Group Gienanth. The Poznan Army to the north had not been engaged as heavily as the other Polish armies in the frontier area and still possessed a considerable combat potential.
Tenth Army units were across the Pilica by 5 September, and the way was open for an advance across the Polish Plain to the capital. The Polish reserves had been committed and there were a few units to be drawn upon to reinforce the sagging defense line before Warsaw.
Fourteenth Army drove eastward on Cracow against stiffening resistance on 5 September. The XXII Corps below the Vistula moved in the direction of the San River, and the XVIII Corps fought a way into Poland through the eastern Carpathian passes.
Rundstedt's headquarters revised its earlier estimate of the Poznan Army's capabilities on the Eighth Army flank on 6 September and prepared to meet a Polish attack from the north. The army group commander requested additional cavalry for reconnaissance purposes but OKH could make no cavalry available. To restrict the Poznam Army's movement and channel its withdrawal, two infantry divisions of the army group reserve were sent into line between X Corps and Group Gienanth, strengthening that part of the Eighth Army front facing north.
Tenth Army continued to move northeastward on a wide front on 6 September, making deep penetrations with its Panzer divisions. The Poles contested the advance of the Panzer divisions bitterly, since they were closest to Warsaw and threatened the eastward retreat of the Lodz and Poznan Armies. The Panzer divisions were followed by infantry divisions, which quickly cleared the captured areas of bypassed Polish units and stragglers. The Panzer division on the northern flank beat off heavy counterattacks, inflicted severe losses on the Poles, and captured the commander of the Polish general reserve's 29th Infantry Division. Fourteenth Army captured the key city of Cracow the same day.
Intelligence reports indicated that the Poles were attempting to rally remnants of their Cracoxo Army in the area of Radom. The destruction of the forces concentrating at Radom and known to still be at Lodz would prevent the escape of more organized Polish units beyond the Vistula River. Eighth Army was directed to make a frontal
Figure 14. German Regimental Command Post in Poland.
attack against the force assembling near Lodz. Tenth Army was ordered to envelope the force at Radom from north and south while continuing the drive toward the Vistula.
Meanwhile an order from OKH assigned Fourteenth Army the mission of destroying the Polish forces escaping to the east of the Vistula. Strong armored and motorized forces were to move to the northeast in the direction of Lublin. Polish units that managed to escape destruction west of the Vistula would be caught within this second envelopment in eastern Poland.6-5
The first phase of Army Group South's operations was completed by 6 September. The Poznan Army had been forced to withdraw eastward. The Lodz Army was under heavy attack. Cracow had been taken and remanants of the Cracow Army at Radom were about to be enveloped by Tenth Army. The Carpathian Army had been forced to withdraw toward Lublin and Lwow.
No great number of prisoners had been taken in a single engagement, as had happened in the Corridor to the north a few days earlier. However, Army Group South reported several thousand captives in the Cracow area, and Tenth Army had bypassed thousands of Polish troops in its advance across the Warta; these were still being captured by the infantry units that had followed the armor. The Poles had
Figure 15. German Infantry on the march in Poland.
also committed a larger proportion of their general reserve to stem the rapid advance of the stronger southern army group and to meet the threat Kundstedt posed to the capital and control center of the Polish defense effort. Tenth Army had had innumerable obstacles with which to contend, as the Poles destroyed bridges and other construction before its tank columns, and part of Fourteenth Army had had to fight its way through mountain passes defended by picked Polish mountain troops.
To retain control of its widening and moving front Army Group South displaced its headquarters to Lubliniec (Lublinitz), just inside the Polish frontier. Eighth Army moved to Gross Wartenberg, Tenth Army to Radomsko, and Fourteenth Army to Bielsko (Bielitz). [See map 9.]
The mass air attacks in the opening hours of the war destroyed a large part of the Polish Air Force on the ground. Major bases at Warsaw, Grudziadz, Torun, Lodz, Czestochowa, Radom, Katowice, and Cracow were bombed heavily. Some German aircraft were brought down by the few Polish fighters that managed to get into the air, but the Polish planes were soon destroyed or driven off, and had to land at remote bases to refuel. Antiaircraft and small arms fire against low-flying German aircraft was reported as fairly accurate,
The Air Force and Navy
while antiaircraft fire against bombers flying at medium and higher altitudes was reported as ineffective. The German aircraft proved themselves technically superior to the Polish types in the few reported instances of air-to-air combat.6-6
In addition to these longer range missions, the Luftwaffe bombed all known landing strips and a number of military installations in the border area, and rendered the Army some close support. Polish fortifications on the Tenth Army front were bombed the first day, expediting Tenth Army's advance toward the Warta.
Air attacks on the Polish naval vessels and antiaircraft emplacements in the harbor of Gdynia and on the antiaircart defenses of Hela completed the neutralization of these installations. Dive bombing attacks against the heavy fortifications of the Westerplatte in Danzig Harbor were unsuccessful and soon suspended.
German aircraft returned to base only long enough to refuel and secure more bombs and ammunition. Some German aircraft returned to the attack on the ground facilities of the Polish Air Force while other air units, their original mission accomplished, flew off to disrupt the movement of Polish reinforcements to the front and prevent the withdrawal of those units already committed against the Germans. Poland's east-wrest rail lines and the rail lines from the south to Gdynia were bombed heavily.
Air observation in support of the German ground forces operated under difficulties peculiar to the terrain and Polish population. German airmen had difficulty distinguishing German and Polish columns because of the heavy dust clouds thrown up from the unimproved roadways over which many units had to move. Thousands of Polish civilians also took to the roads before the German advance, wagons filled high with household goods and belongings. Moving alone in a cloud of dust, these refugee wagon trains resembled the horse-drawn columns of either Army.
A number of light attacks were made by the Polish Air Force. Several involved the participation of Polish aircraft in the air defense of Warsaw and in support of Polish ground units engaged with the German Tenth Army. One bombing attack was made on East Prussia. Several observation missions and fighter sorties were made over Silesia and Bohemia-Moravia, but the Polish Air Force had ceased to exist as an effective fighting force by 3 September. The German First and Fourth Air Forces from that date were free to direct their major effort to the support of the ground forces.
In three days the Luftwaffe had driven the Polish Air Force from the skies, destroyed most of its bases on the ground, and crippled
aircraft repair and production facilities. The mobilization of the Polish Army was disrupted by attacks on troop concentration areas and transportation lines. The damage of the first day to the Polish railroads was quickly repaired, but the release of more German aircraft from the task of destroying the Polish Air Force during the next few days made it possible to mount a series of attacks of increasing intensity against the Polish rail system; this interdiction was soon applied to the highways as well. German air units, after exhausting their bomb loads and ammunition, would keep moving columns on the roadways under observation until additional combat aircraft arrived to complete their destruction.
The German Navy played only a small part in operations with the light surface forces, the few submarines, and the old battelship Schleswig-Holstein that it committed to the Polish Campaign. When Great Britain and France declared war on 3 September, the Fuehrer countered with a directive ordering general mobilization of all the Reich's resources and permitting the Navy to engage in limited offensive operations.6-7 The Germans had already prepared for this eventuality by sending the bulk of their fleet to Atlantic and North Sea battle stations. Thus almost the entire German naval effort was concentrated against Great Britain from 3 September, with little left for the few light Polish fleet units at large in the Baltic.
The Schleswig-Holstein remained in the Danzig Bay area, while submarines and destroyers blockaded Gdynia and Hela. Some support was rendered German ground forces in coastal areas, but for the most part the Navy in the Baltic had little to do except protect convoys moving from Stettin and other north German ports to East Prussia and prevent the escape of the few remaining Polish naval and merchant vessels.
The Destruction of the Polish Army
The speed of the German advance made effective direction and coordination of the Polish defense effort increasingly difficult as operations continued. The declaration of war by Great Britain and France on 3 September did not bring with it the relief the Polish High Command had expected. The Hitler directive immediately following the declaration had left the opening of offensive operations in the air and on the ground to the British and French, and it was only a question of time until the German Army would overrun Poland.
An attempt was made to reorganize the battered Polish forces into three armies, one north of the Vistula, a second holding the front from Warsaw to the junction of the Vistula and San Rivers, and the third in the south. The rapid advance of the Germans prevented implementation of this plan.7-1
The two German army groups exerted pressure on the Poznan Army from north and south and forced it to continue its withdrawal eastward. Remnants of the Pomorze Army also fell back before the Third and Fourth Armies on the withdrawal route followed by the Poznan Army. Some units of the Lodz Army, under heavy attack by the Eighth Army, were also forced to withdraw in the general direction of Warsaw. The road and rail network of the Polish Plain west of Warsaw was to cause a convergence of these various forces in the area about Kutno. Tenth Army pushed remnants of the Cracow Army back into the Radom area, while other units of the Cracow Army and the Carpathian Army were forced to retreat toward the Lublin area and Lwow before Fourteenth Army. In the extreme north some units of the Narew Group withdrew in the direction of Brzesc to avoid being outflanked.
The second phase of German operations consisted of destroying these remaining major Polish forces. German armored units disregarded their exposed flanks and raced ahead of the infantry divisions to cut the retreating Polish armies into smaller groups. The Luftwaffe
complete control of the air and was able to keep withdrawing Polish columns under constant observation and attack. Forests areas occupied by Polish units were set afire with incendiaries and the troops attacked from the air when they fled into the open. The national government at Warsaw prepared for movement to the south and east, where it might continue the war or escape to Romania.
The German successes against the Polish Army were dampened by the situation in the west. Britain and France might go over to the offensive at any time, and they held the advantage as long as the bulk of the German Army and the Luftwaffe were committed in Poland. As OKH viewed the situation, it was imperative that operations in Poland be brought to a conclusion as speedily as possible, and that the bulk of the German forces be shifted to the west. The Luftwaffe would have little difficulty in moving its air units from the east to the large number of bases in the west. The army, however, with its far larger force and with its tanks and artillery, required more transportation and time to shift from one theater of war to another. As a consequence, OKH was opposed to any proposal to move deeper into Poland than was necessary to effect the destruction of the Polish Army. This strategic plan of OKH was opposed by Bock and Guderian, who were eager to make a deep armored penetration into eastern Poland to prevent the escape of major Polish forces into the Pripyat Marshes area.
A number of the usual reports on atrocities by both sides made their appearance during this period. One that received a great amount of publicity occurred on Sunday, 3 September, when Polish troops at Bydgoszc claimed to have been fired upon by minority Germans. A number of German civilians resident in the Bydgoszcz area were shot in an operation directed by the local Polish commander, and the Reich government charged the Polish Government with terrorism. The Polish Government, in turn, used the incident to support its claim of fifth column activities on the part of the German minority resident within Poland's borders. The "Bloody Sunday" incident was promptly used in the psychological warfare effort of both Germans and Poles.
Army Group North, 4-17 September7-2
Operations in Western PolandThird Army reported its XXI Corps in firm control of Grudziadz on 4 September. Engineers immediately set to work repairing the bridges across the Vistula, to establish a further linkup with Fourth Army. [See map 8.]
On the left of the Third Army front I Corps and Corps Wodrig regrouped to resume their southward advance from Mlawa. The army group was critical of the operations just concluded at Mlawa, taking the position that Third Army should have bypassed the Polish defenses. Little resistance was encountered immediately south of Mlawa, but a stiff defense was expected along the Narew Kiver.
Fourth Army opened the second phase of operations with its XIX Corps clearing the area west of the Vistula near Grudziadz of Polish units still trying to escape from the Corridor. Reaching the river, the XIX Corps moved northward. Other Fourth Army units south of Grudziadz crossed the Vistula the same day, while fighting a series of actions with the remnants of Polish units that had infiltrated through the XIX Corps. At the base of the Corridor Fourth Army forced the Pomorze Army's 15th Infantry Division to withdraw from its positions north of Bydgoszcz.
With the Corridor operation completed Army Group North began to plan the movement of the bulk of Fourth Army to the east flank of the army group front. This movement would enable Army Group North to clear its left front of Polish forces and execute a wide encirclement east of Warsaw. Bock understood that he had the authority to order such a major move as a result of a telephone conversation with Brauchitsch on 2 September.7-3 According to the army group plan, Fourth Army would move on Lomza, from concentration areas in East Prussia east of Third Army, and drive south to destroy the Polish forces on the left flank of the army group front. This accomplished, Fourth Army would move west to envelop other Polish forecs still facing Third Army. Some risk would be involved in stripping the Corridor area and the region immediately to the south of combat units. Polish remnants would be left far behind the German battle line, opposed only by security troops and service units.
Army Group North was obliged to revise its plan with the receipt of orders from OKH on 4 September and during the night of 4-5 September. In the first of the two orders, OKH authorized the organization of only a small provisional force of fortress troops and reservists from units already available in East Prussia to move on Lomza. The second order directed the Fourth Army to continue its drive on Warsaw from the northwest. Panzer and motorized units (XIX Corps) could be shifted to the left front of Third Army, but would have to remain west of the line Ostrow Mazowiecka-Warsaw in the drive on the Polish capital.
Army Group North still held that its left should be strengthened further. A call by Bock to Brauchitsch the morning of 5 September confirmed the OKH order. The commander in chief of the Army
gave as reason for his decision the belief that the Poles no longer had an effective army. Despite Bock's remonstrations, OKH would permit no moves further eastward than were necessary, in view of Germany's weak situation along the Westwall.
An additional link was established between the Third and Fourth Armies southeast of Grudziadz on 6 September, and the German line across the Southeastern area of the Corridor was shortened. The XIX Corps headquarters and one division were immediately withdrawn and moved to the left flank of Third Army, where the corps would organize the provisional force OKH had authorized for the move on Lomza. Army Group North moved its headquarters to Allenstein in East Prussia the same day, and remained there to the end of the campaign. Third Army moved to the frontier area south of Allenstein and Fourth Army shifted to a point within the Corridor northwest of Bydgoszcz.
Operations in Eastern PolandThe XXI Corps concentrated in the Pisia (Pisseck) River area on its return to East Prussia, and was redesignated Group Falkenhorst, after its commander. The 10th Panzer Division was added to Falkenhorst's command, which was to consist of an armored division, an infantry division, and a brigade of fortress troops and reservists from East Prussia. Army Group North was apprehensive, and felt that Group Falkenhorst would not be strong enough to accomplish its mission. Moreover, the commitment of Group Falkenhorst would draw the attention of the Poles to the area in which the army group planned to concentrate the Panzer and motorized divisions of XIX Corps for a fast drive deep into eastern Poland. Despite army group's misgivings, Group Falkenhorst was committed on 7 September, when it moved south on Lomza with the 10th Panzer Division, followed by the brigade of East Prussian troops.
Army Group North received a welcome but premature message from Rundstedt's headquarters the evening of 8 September. According to Army Group South, the XVI Corps had taken Warsaw and established several crossings on the Vistula. The entry in the headquarters journal of Army Group North noted that "The drama is approaching its finale." The hope of a quick victory was dashed when it was learned that only one division had reached Warsaw and had been forced to withdraw, and that no crossing had been made along the Vistula.
The 20th Motorized Infantry Division arrived as the first of the XIX Corps units in East Prussia and concentrated in the rear of Group Falkenhorst. Corps headquarters itself arrived the day Group Falkenhorst was committed. The XIX Corps was retained under army group control and prepared to enter the battle against the
Narew Group without waiting for the rest of its divisions. The 10th Panzer Division and East Prussian brigade were relieved from attachment to Group Falkenhorst and attached to the XIX Corps. Guderian quickly formed a line on the left of Group Falkenhorst and moved south on 9 September, followed by the 20th Motorized Infantry Division. Group Falkenhorst, having lost its armored striking force to the XIX Corps, resumed the use of its original designation as the XXI Corps. The XIX Corps was able to report immediate progress southward, but the corps' left flank was completely uncovered and exposed to attack by the Podlaska Cavalry Brigade and other Narew Group units still in the Grodno area and about Bialystok.7-4
The commitment of the XIX Corps on the Third Army front immediately posed another problem. The original boundary of Ostrow Mazowiecka, set for Third Army and Group Falkenhorst, would seriously restrict the freedom of action of the fast-moving armored units and prevent full exploitation of their capabilities. Army Group North requested OKH to assign another objective, suitable for the execution of a wide envelopment. The line Minsk Mazowiecki-Siedlce was settled upon. The army group planners felt that the area west of Siedlce was still too narrow for a sweeping envelopment east of Warsaw. However, it would suffice to form a link up with Army Group South east of the Vistula. Headquarters OKH remained firm in its decision to keep its forces as far to the west as possible.
The XIX Corps' 10th Panzer Division crossed the Narew at Wizna the day it attacked. The following morning the 20th Motorized Infantry Division crossed the river at a point some miles to the west. The corps commander was immediately ordered to move south across the Bug to intercept Polish forces withdrawing eastward from the Vistula.
The XXI Corps, on the right of the XIX Corps, was held up by Polish fortifications at NoAvogrod at the outset of the drive into eastern Poland. Though it managed to force the Polish 18th Infantry Division to withdraw, the XXI Corps could not maintain the pace of the advance set by the XIX Corps and fell behind.
The 20th Motorized Infantry Division became heavily engaged with elements of the Polish 18th Infantry Division in the vicinity of Zambrow on 10 September. Units of the 10th Panzer Division were diverted to assist the motorized division, and inflicted heavy losses on the Poles. The remainder of the 10th Panzer Division, followed by the 3d Panzer Division, which had meanwhile rejoined the corps,
penetrated to the Nurzyck (Nurzec) River, a tributary of the Bug, west of Bielsk. [See map 10.]
Command control over the movements of these Panzer divisions and the motorized division was necessarily restricted to radio. The corps staff also experienced some difficulty in performing its proper function by reason of the frequent moves over long distances to keep the headquarters immediately behind the advancing divisions.
The southward movement of the XIX Corps also exposed its left flank to a Polish attack from the Bialystok area to the east. On 11 September Army Group North directed that Corps Brand secure this flank by a move against Bialystok. On the same day the 2d Motorized Infantry Division began moving southward to rejoin XIX Corps, while the corps' 23d Infantry Division remained in the border area.
Meanwhile I Corps and Corps Wodrig of Third Army moved rapidly toward the Bug after crossing the Narew. Advance elements of Corps Wodrig were across the Bug River by 10 September and drove south to intercept Polish units reported by air reconnaissance to be withdrawing eastward from Warsaw. Third Army headquarters moved to a new location southeast of Mlawa the same day.
Intelligence reports indicated that the Polish Government had fled to the Lwow area and that the Polish High Command had established headquarters in the fortress city. A large number of Polish units had managed to escape to the east of the Vistula, and it could therefore be expected that the Poles would attempt to establish a new defense line in southeastern Poland. A natural line already existed, from Brzesc down the Bug River to Lwow, thence to the west, and south along the San River to the Polish frontier. A deep drive into southeastern Poland would be necessary if this new defense line was to be destroyed before it could be completely organized.
Army Group South had already been ordered to move deeper into eastern Poland, in the direction of Lublin. Headquarters OKH on 11 September changed the objective of Army Group North to the line Kowela-Slonim. This would effect a second encirclement of Polish forces in the eastern part of the country, beyond the Bug River.
On 12 September OKH directed another change in the mission of Army Group North. The remnants of the Polish armies in the west were all but encircled about Kutno and in the area between that city and Warsaw. The army group's Third Army would be able to exert additional pressure on these Polish armies by investing Warsaw from the east and blocking escape from the city. Accordingly, OKH ordered Army Group North to execute a right turn with a part of its force and present a new front to the west. Third Army's I Corps was
ordered to seize the river crossings into the city but to avoid becoming involved in a major engagement in the city itself, where house-to-house fighting would be costly in casualties and would prevent the disengagement of the corps when the expected order to resume the march to the southeast was received. Other Third Army forces would advance to the line Garwolin-Siedlce and establish a front to the southeast. The XIX Corps would drive east of the Bug and take Brzesc, to protect the left flank of the army group and make it possible to resume the army group advance into southeastern Poland with a minimum of delay.
The OKH order of 12 September also made Eighth Army responsible for operations at Kutno and released Fourth Army for movement to the east of the Army Group North front. Bock assigned Fourth Army responsibility for the security of the area in the direction of Bialystok, with Corps Brand and the XXI Corps attached.
The XIX Corps on 12 September controlled the 3d and 10th Panzer Divisions and the 20th Motorized Infantry Division, and the 2d Motorized Division had also rejoined the corps. The 10th Panzer Division led the advance on the left, followed by the 3d Panzer Division, echeloned out to the left rear. On the right the 20th Motorized Division led the advance, followed at some distance by the 2d Motorized Division, which was shifted to the rear of the 3d Panzer Division the following day. The lack of infantry on the left of the armored units was a cause of some concern at army group headquarters, since strong Polish forces were believed to be in the Pripyat Marshes and the heavily forested area to the east.
The difficulty in shifting units across the rear of XIX Corps in order to establish a front to the east was resolved by giving priority to XIX Corps. This involved some risk until the roads to the east were sufficiently clear of XIX Corps columns moving southward from East Prussia, but units of the Narew Group still west of Grodno and Bialystok were in no position to take advantage of the opportunity to attack the flank of the German columns en route to the south.
The Polish forces immediately east of Warsaw fought desparately but without coordination or direction of effort as Third Army's I Corps cleared the area to the Vistula. The army's Corps Wodrig reported the capture of 8,000 prisoners on 15 September alone as it moved southward. It was Bock's intention to direct the XIX Corps to send half of its force in the direction of Slonim to the northeast and the other half toward Kowela to the southeast after the capture of Brzesc. The commander of Army Group North estimated that infantry would require eight days to accomplish these missions, and the armored and motorized units could reach the two objectives in a
fraction of that time. Bock did not consider it necessary to commit any further forces to secure the vast Pripyat Marshes area.
The I Corps laid siege to the Warsaw suburb of Praga on 16 September. Farther south Corps Wodrig completed the destruction of Polish remnants that had fled across the Vistula from the Radom area before the Army Group South advance. The 1st Calvary Brigade patrolled the east bank of the Vistula to prevent further crossings by the Poles.
Fourth Army headquarters was operational southeast of Lomza on 16 September. This permitted Third Army to move its headquarters to Wegrow, where it could direct operations against Warsaw more closely. Bialystok was in German hands, and the Fourth Army front was secure as far south as Bielsk. Polish units identified on the front to the northeast indicated no threat to the army group's left flank.
Operations at BrzescOn 14 September the 10th Panzer Division reported that its forward elements had reached Brzesc. The 3d Panzer Division, which had shifted to the left rear of the 10th Panzer Division, covered the corps' left flank by pushing reconnaissance elements out in the direction of Kobryn. The corps commander hurried to join the force that had reached the objective, and the 20th Motorized Infantry Division, its operations against the Polish 18th Infantry Division completed, was shifted eastward to give the Panzer units at Brzesc additional infantry support.
The initial German attack against Brzesc penetrated the city's outer fortifications, and the garrison withdrew into the fortress, known as the Citadel, that formed the core of the city's defensive system. An attempt to take the Citadel by a surprise attack was a failure, and Guderian decided that a determined assault by a larger force would be necessary.
On 16 September the 10th Panzer and 20th Motorized Infantry Divisions launched a concerted attack on the fortress, and took the outer line of defenses. However, the infantry regiment of the 10th Panzer Division failed to advance immediately behind the artillery barrage laid down for its support, and the inner fortress remained in Polish hands.
The Citadel was finally taken on 17 September, when an infantry regiment of the 20th Motorized Infantry Division launched an assault as the Polish garrison was attempting to break out of the fortress and escape to the west. A total of 600 prisoners were taken by the Germans in this final phase of the Brzesc operation.
While the 10th Panzer and 20th Motorized Infantry Divisions were engaged in taking Brzesc, the 3d Panzer Division moved around the city to the east and drove southward in the direction of Wlodowa.
The 2d Motorized Infantry Division, following the 3d Panzer Division, was assigned the mission of securing the left flank of the corps and moved eastward in the direction of Kobryn. The headquarters of the XIX Corps moved to Brzesc and prepared to meet the Russians, since the corps could not evacuate Brzesc before their arrival.
Active operations ended for part of the XIX Corps with the capture of Brzesc and its Citadel. The 10th Panzer and 20th Motorized Infantry Divisions remained in the Brzesc area. The 3d Panzer Division, which had moved southward on Wlodowa, and the 2d Motorized Division, moving on Kobryn to the east, were to continue their small actions, cutting off Polish units attempting to escape eastward and taking numerous prisoners. [See map 10.]
The 2d Panzer Division of Army Group South was reported moving in the direction of Wlodowa. The XIX Corps was ordered to remain in place and be prepared to effect a junction with Rundstedt's army group. This order was never carried out and no link up of German forces was actually effected east of the Bug River. The 2d Motorized Infantry Division shortly withdrew from Kobryn to rejoin the corps at Brzesc. The 3d Panzer Division was also withdrawn on 20 September, as the corps made preparations to move to East Prussia. The XIX Corps was attached to Fourth Army the same day.
The Intervention of the RussiansArmy Group North was informed of the Red Army's movement into eastern Poland by OKH early on 17 September, and was directed to remain west of the line along the Bug River-Brzesc-Bialystok. Units of the XXI Corps in the Bialystok area and a motorized division of XIX Corps in the Brzesc region had already advanced east of this line. These units were to be permitted to remain east of the line long enough to complete their missions, after which they were to withdraw. The plan to send armored and motorized infantry columns to Slonim and Kowela was abandoned. Despite the OKH order to confine its operations to the area west of the Bug-Brzesc-Bialystok line, Army Group North instructed its air reconnaissance units to continue flying missions to Grodno and other points deep enough to provide security for the army group. [See map 10.]
The second phase of operations by Army Group North was completed with the intervention of the Red Army. All organized resistance in the area between Warsaw and Brzesc had ended, and Army Group North had established contact with Army Group South across the Vistula at Gora Kalwarja. Farther east advance Panzer units of XIX Corps had established radio contact with Panzer elements of Rundstedt's force and only a few miles separated the armored spearheads of the two German army groups. Prisoners taken on 16 and 17 September represented half the identified Polish divisions and almost
one-third of the cavalry brigades, and their statements indicated complete despair on the part of the remnants of the Polish Army.
Relations with the Russians suffered several setbacks at the outset in the Army Group North area. Russian aircraft bombed a bridge nine miles west of Bialystok on 17 September, killing three German soldiers and several Labor Service men. Other Russian air attacks inflicted casualties on advance units of XIX Corps east of the Bug.
Warsaw presented a special problem with the intervention of the Russians. The capital was held by a large garrison, reinforced by the units that had escaped encirclement in the battles farther west, and a large part of the heavy artillery required for an assault on Warsaw's defenses was committed at Modlin, the fortress city a short distance down the Vistula. The bulk of the army group's armor was far to the east at Brzesc, and Hitler was unwilling to accept the heavy casualties an infantry assault on Warsaw would cost. However, the Fuehrer was anxious to gain possession of the city before the arrival of the Russians, to impress the Red Army and prevent the formation of a Communist puppet government in the Polish capital.
To weaken the determination of the population of Warsaw to resist, a leaflet drop over the city had been made on 15 September, urging noncombatants to leave and promising fair treatment and the release of the garrison as soon as the formalities of surrender were completed. The Germans had to take into account the matter of foreign public opinion about the lives of noncombatants and the large diplomatic colony still inside Warsaw. The United States Congress was soon to convene in special session, and the Congress of American States had called on its members to meet. The killing of large numbers of civilians and disregard of accepted custom in repatriating diplomatic representatives would win the German Government no friends in either congress. The United States arms embargo was still in force, prohibiting the sale of weapons and munitions to the Allies, and the attitude of the American states toward the German attack was still undeclared.
All three of its armies reported progress as Army Group South entered the second phase of operations, and OKH cancelled its planned airborne attack on the Vistula crossing at Pulawy. The three army headquarters had to displace forward again to maintain proper control over their advancing units. On 7 September Eighth Army moved to the vicinity of Lodz, as it pressed the attack against that city and the Lodz Army. Tenth Army moved to Konskie on 9 September as it prepared to destroy forces of the Cracow Army concentrated
Army Group South, 7-17 September7-5
Eadom. Fourteenth Army moved to a point southeast of Cracow the same day and continued its drive to the east and northeast. Army Group South moved its headquarters on 13 September to Kielce where it remained until the end of operations. [See map 9.]
A series of separate battles developed on each of the army fronts. These were simultaneous actions, with each German army attempting to envelop and destroy the Polish units on its front and prevent their escape to the east.
Eighth ArmyThe combat potential of Eighth Army was increased considerably at the outset of the second phase of Army Group South's operations with the attachment of the XI and XVI Corps from Tenth Army. The XI Corps held the right of the army line, while XVI Corps reached the suburbs of Warsaw with its 4th Panzer Division on 8 September and its 1st Panzer Division penetrated to the Vistula.
The Eighth Army's successes against the Lodz Army and its deep penetration northeastward across the Polish Plain were to work to Eighth Army's temporary disadvantage in the area of the X Corps at the outset of the second phase of operations, however. The Gienanth Group and the 213th Infantry Division from the army group reserve on the army's north flank were left far to the west. The 221st Infantry Division from the army group reserve was disposed on a very wide front and was also too far to the west to come to the support of X Corps units in case of an attack from the north. The continued advance of Eighth Army to the northeast made necessary an increasing prolongation of the line held by X Corps against the Pozncm Army, particularly on the front of the German 30th Infantry Division.
The 30th Infantry Division made some redispositions to meet a possible attack, but was still in an unfavorable position for defense. Division units were strung out along an open flank for a distance of more than 20 miles and advancing northeastward in column, with only small detachments thrown out for security. The division artillery was scattered throughout the column and a coordinated defensive fire would have been impossible. [See map 9.]
At noon on 10 September the German 30th Infantry Division reported itself under heavy attack from the north by a Polish force estimated at two or three infantry divisions and two cavalry brigades. The army commander first considered counterattacking with the XIII Corps, but discarded this plan in favor of directing the X Corps to turn its front to the north. The 30th Infantry Division lost some ground to the Poles, but the support of the other two infantry divisions of the corps made it possible to establish a new line the following day.
A number of antitank and other army group units were made available to Eighth Army and hurried into line to bolster the front, and the XI Corps was directed to attack the Polish penetration on its eastern shoulder.
Despite the heavy losses incurred by the 30th Infantry Division, the Polish attack served the Germans in that it hastened the encirclement of the Poznan Army at Kutno. The diversion of units to make the attack weakened the eastern front of the Polish force and the XI Corps succeeded in driving the Poles to the west of the Bzura and farther away from Warsaw and Modlin and any possible escape to the two fortress cities.
On 11 September OKH placed Eighth Army in control of operations against the Polish forces about Kutno, and the army moved its headquarters to Lodz. The German plan for the operation provided for attacking the Poles from the west, south, and east, while Bock's army group blocked escape north across the Vistula. A day later OKH directed the attachment of the III Corps of Fourth Army south of the Vistula to the Eighth Army as Army Group North prepared to regroup and shift Fourth Army to the drive east of Warsaw. A provisional force was organized to hold the north bank of the Vistula against Polish crossings from the Kutno area.
Included in the Kutno encirclement at this time were 12 Polish divisions, including the Poznan Army's 14th, 17th, 25th, and 26th Infantry Divisions, and the Wielkopolska and Kresova Cavalry Brigades; remnants of the Lodz Army's 2d, 10th, 13th, 28th and 30th Infantry Divisions and Wolynska Cavalry Brigade; and battered units of the Pomorze Army's 4th, 15th and 16th Infantry Divisions that managed to escape destruction following the junction of the German Third and Fourth Armies across the base of the Corridor. This represented more than one third of the entire Polish land force. Some concern was expressed at OKH and the headquarters of both army groups about the capability of this Polish force to break out to the east to join the garrison of Warsaw. For the next few days this encirclement, a development of the original OKH plan to destroy the bulk of the Polish armies west of the Vistula, was to become a focal point of attention in the campaign.
Eighth Army controlled a total of six corps for the operation against the Polish force at Kutno, including the XI and XVI Corps attached from Tenth Army. These corps were deployed in a rough circle about the Polish force centered between the Vistula and Bzura. One more attempt by the Poles to break out of the encirclement and escape to the southeast on 12 September was thwarted despite the loss of some ground by the Germans. The desperate attacks of the Poles only served to exhaust further their few units still intact.
The XI and XVI Corps reverted from Eighth to Tenth Army control on 15 September, as Tenth Army was made responsible for operations against Kutno from the east. The commander of the Polish force was finally identified as General Bortnowski, of the Poznan Army. Despite his hopeless position, Bortnowski made one more effort to break through the German line on 16 September, this time to the north and east in an attempt to cross the Vistula and reach Modlin. This final attempt was fruitless, and the Eighth Army took advantage of the weakening Polish situation to compress the Kutno force into a compact mass and a target small enough for a concentrated air assault.
The following day, 17 September, German air units attacking Warsaw were diverted long enough from their target to deliver a series of heavy air attacks on the encircled Poles and expedite the movement of ground units toward Kutno. The Polish defensive organization collapsed, and 40,000 prisoners were taken. A strong Polish force managed to fight its way through the German line and moved toward the forested area southwest of Modlin, below the Vistula. This force was immediately engaged by Tenth Army and destroyed.
At the conclusion of the second phase of Army Group South operations Eighth Army was still occupied in clearing the Kutno area of the last remnants of its Polish force. While Tenth Army completed the destruction of those Polish units that had escaped east of the Bzura, Eighth Army destroyed all those remaining west of the river. Since it was not in the area of the demarcation line between the Russian and German halves of the country and had no orders to move in that direction Eighth Army was not immediately affected by the sudden Russian advance into eastern Poland. [See map 10.]
Tenth ArmyThe deep penetration of Tenth Army prevented the Polish forces near Radom from completing their defensive deployment as the second phase of Army Group South's operations began. The Lodz Arrny, already under attack by the Eighth Army on the German left, could not prevent Tenth Army tank units from moving up the north bank of the Pilica toward the Vistula and Warsaw. Bypassed on the south, the Lodz Army was forced to fall back on the Polish divisions at Kutno, and Tenth Army could make its major effort against the Polish force at Radom. [See map 9.]
The Radom force on 8 September consisted of survivors of the Polish 3d, 19th, and 29th Infantry Divisions from the general reserve, the Krakowska Cavalry Brigade and 7th Infantry Division of the Cracow Army, and the 12th Infantry Division from the general reserve. All but the 12th Infantry Division had been heavily engaged and had but a fraction of their original strength. Depleted as this
force was, it succeeded in slowing the German advance toward the Vistula.
Tenth Army was directed by Rundstedt to destroy the Polish force at Radom by an envelopment from north and south. This would enable Tenth Army to seize crossings on the Vistula and press forward to a junction with Army Group North at Warsaw. The Tenth Army order of the same date assigned XIV and XV Corps the mission of enveloping the Polish force from the north and south, while IV Corps tied it down with attacks from the west and southwest.
Hard fighting developed as Panzer units reached the Vistula north and south of the Polish force at Radom late on 8 September. The stubborn resistance of the Poles required the full attention of Tenth Army, and the XI and XVI Corps on the left flank of Tenth Army were temporarily attached to Eighth Army.
Tenth Army destroyed the Polish force at Radom by 11 September and took 60,000 prisoners. A few Polish units of regimental strength withdrew into the more wooded areas and continued a sporadic resistance that tied down a number of German divisions for several more days. Bridges across the Vistula, including the important crossing at Pulawy, were secured. Tenth Army was directed to move the IV Corps across the river and in the direction of Lublin, to support the advance of Fourteenth Army on that city and its junction with Army Group North. The XIV Corps would remain west of the Vistula temporarily, and clear the area of Polish remnants still trying to escape across the river.
On 13 September Tenth Army was given control over the VII and VIII Corps on the left flank of Fourteenth Army. The two corps were directed to continue their advance eastward, enveloping the Polish force at Bilgoraj and supporting the movement of Fourteenth Army on Lublin. This shift gave Tenth Army control over all German forces moving on Lublin from the west.
The IV Corps in the center of the Tenth Army front was across the Vistula on 14 September and moving east on a small Polish force at Krasnik. The city of Krasnik was taken on 15 September, and the corps moved rapidly past Lublin toward the Wieprz River. The XIV Corps concentrated on the west bank of the Vistula but did not cross in force, since some of its units were still occupied in clearing the area east of Radom of Polish remnants. On the Tenth Army right, the VII and VIII Corps attached from Fourteenth Army fought hard to destroy the Polish forces at Bilgoraj.
On 15 September Tenth Army reassumed control over the XI and XVI Corps that had been attached temporarily to Eighth Army, and Tenth Army became responsible for two fronts, one facing north toward Warsaw and the other east toward Lublin. The two corps
Figure 16. Polish light tank disabled by antitank fire near Warsaw.
on the Warsaw front would lay siege to the Polish capital from the south and move Panzer units between Warsaw and the Polish forces at Kutno, in support of the Eighth Army effort against the encircled western Polish armies. This would also provide flank protection for Tenth Army on the left, originally the mission of Eighth Army, and would free Eighth Army to concentrate on reducing the Polish force within the encirclement.
Tenth Army units on the Warsaw front held an east-west line. One infantry division was assigned to hold the southern approaches to the city, while the army concentrated stronger forces to move between Warsaw and the mass of Polish units at Kutno. The army commander directed the XI Corps to establish a bridgehead west of the Bzura River, to enable the XVI Corps to cross with its armor and attack the Poles from the east. This operation was worked out in close coordination with Eighth Army, pressing in on the Poles from the northwest, west, and southwest.
The bridgehead across the Bzura was established by 16 September, and the two Panzer divisions of XVI Corps prepared to attack immediately, with strong infantry support. A sharp spoiling attack by the encircled Polish force, in an attempt to break out to the east, prevented the implementation of this plan. Two infantry divisions were diverted to stem the attack, and a Panzer division was shifted northward to interpose itself between the Polish force and the capital. The disruption of the German plan mattered little, however, as the Polish force at Kutno expended its strength in attempts to break through the German encirclement.
Figure 17. German antiaircraft gun suppo9rting advancing Infantry along the Bzura River.
Tenth Army was still committed against the eastern side of the Kutno encirclement as the Eighth Army and Luftwaffe launched a concerted attack the following day. The Polish units that escaped in the course of this action, most of them from the Poznan Army, were caught between the Vistula and Tenth Army units west of Warsaw. Twelve thousand prisoners were taken and Tenth Army moved on the Vistula to close the gap between Kutno and Warsaw.
On Tenth Army's eastern front, meanwhile, Bilgoraj was taken though stiff fighting continued southeast of the city, and Lublin was entered on 17 September. Advance units, passing between Polish concentrations to the north and south, reached the Wieprz Kiver the same day. Tenth Army units were moving on Chelm and street fighting raged in Lublin as the second phase of Army Group South's operations came to a close. Tenth Army moved its headquarters to a point a short distance southwest of Warsaw and continued its drive in the direction of the Bug River, which would form the limiting line for its advance. [See map 10.]
Fourteenth ArmyOn 10 September the XVII and XVIII Corps on the Fourteenth Army right crossed the San north and south of Przemysl, forced the 24th Infantry Division of the Polish general reserve to withdraw eastward and drove elements of the Cracow Army's 11th Infantry Division
into the fortress city. The two German corps moved rapidly in the direction of Lwow, where the Polish High Command had established headquarters a few days before in an attempt to rally the withdrawing Polish Army for a stand in the southeastern part of the country. A task force under Colonel (later Field Marshal) Schoerner of the XVIII Corps' 1st Mountain Division reached the fortifications of the city on 12 September, and met spirited resistance from the garrison of 12,000 men. The mountain division quickly invested Lwow from the north and west, and cut all contact with the Polish force at Przemysl. [See map 10.]
The city of Lwow is dominated by the Zboiska Heights to the north and northeast. It was important that these heights be seized without delay and that the exits from the city to the south and southeast be closed. Security would have to be provided against attacks from the west by the Polish force in Przemysl, and from the southwest, where the entire right flank of the division was exposed to Polish forces being moved up from the southeastern region of the country.
The attack to secure the ridges north and northeast of the city was launched by Group Schoerner at 1000 on 13 September. The task force made rapid progress from the start, reaching the commanding height known as Hill 374 in the afternoon, and Zboiska and the surrounding ridges by dark. The major road to the north was cut by the capture of Zboiska, and the mountain troops dug in to hold their gains against a series of heavy Polish attacks. Other task forces moved out to secure the approches from the southwest and Przemysl, and to close off exits from the city to the south and southeast.
On the left flank of Fourteenth Army, meanwhile, progress was slow, and VIII Corps, had to be shifted to clear the north bank of the Vistula as far as the junction with the San. The units opposing the forces on the left of the Fourteenth Army front comprised remnants of the Polish 21st and 22d Mountain Divisions and the Rzeszow Armored Calvary Brigade. The Polish units fought a strong rear guard action and withdrew across the San in a northeasterly direction to the dense forest and swamp area about Bilgoraj. [See maps 9 and 10.]
On 13 September Army Group South directed Fourteenth Army to send the remainder of its XVIII Corps to take Lwow, after which the corps was to move northward. The XVII and XXII Corps in the center of the Fourteenth Army line were to move to the northeast in the direction of Wlodzimierz and Hrubieszow, to effect a junction with Army Group North east of the Bug River. The VII and VIII Corps on the left were attached to Tenth Army, freeing Fourteenth Army for its extensive operations deeper into southeastern Poland. Army Headquarters moved to Rzeszow. [See map 10.]
Lwow was completely encircled by XVIII Corps units by 14 September. Further west the Poles in Przemysl continued a stubborn resistance. Elements of several divisions had to be relieved from other missions for the assault on Przemysl's defenses.
Przemysl fell on 15 September, marking the end of organized Polish resistance on the Fourteenth Army front except at Lwow, in the area northwest of Lwow, and near Bilgoraj. The protracted resistance at Lwow led the Fourteenth Army to direct the XXII Corps, after the capture of Wlodzimierz and Hrubieszow, to execute a move to the south with Panzer and motorized units with the mission of destroying the Polish forces still attempting to reach the fortress city. Detachments were also sent to the east to secure the oil fields below Lwow and prevent the escape of more Polish units and small parties to Romania. Meanwhile, a desperate attempt by Polish remnants to reach the garrison at Lwow was thwarted, at the expense of heavy casualties to the 1st Mountain Division, which held the XVIII Corps line north of the city and bore the brunt of the Polish attacks.
Fourteenth Army reported some local engagements on 16 September as isolated Polish units were encountered on the army front and in the rear areas. Heavy fighting continued at Lwow and in the area of Bilgoraj.
The intervention of the Red Army on 17 September made necessary some changes in the plan of operations. Fourteenth Army was ordered to advance no further than the line Stryj-Lwow-Bug River. The siege of Lwow would continue, temporarily ,and the oil-producing area south of Lwow was to be secured.
The End of the Campaign
The third and final phase of German operations in Poland consisted of (1) capturing the capital and other key fortress areas left behind the advancing Wehrmacht, and (2) evacuating eastern Poland ahead of the Red Army on the schedule ordered by Hitler. The capture of Warsaw, Modlin, and the port areas in the Corridor were only a matter of time as additional German infantry, artillery, and air forces became available with the approaching end of hostilities. Hitler's order for the evacuation of the area that was to be occupied by the Russians posed a more difficult problem, since German forces east of the Vistula and San Rivers were still engaged with remnants of the Polish Army at a number of points.
The Polish President and Marshal Rydz-Smigly had fled to Romania. A few organized Polish units still remained in the more inaccessible areas of eastern Poland, while other Polish troops had banded together under strong individual leaders regardless of rank. Units of both categories presented the Wehrmacht with a problem in discontinuing operations and withdrawing westward.
While these events were taking place, OKH was faced with the problem of shifting ground troops to the Westwall to meet a possible French and British attack. Divisions and higher commands were transferred from the Polish theater to the west as soon as they could be spared. As a result, the commands left behind had to assume the task of controlling vast areas and suppressing such scattered resistance as remained.
The Battles for Warsaw and Modlin
Early Surrender OverturesWarsaw had come under siege with the approach of Third Army to the suburb of Praga, and OKH ordered a leaflet drop proposing negotiations with the Polish garrison for the evacuation of the city's civilian population and the diplomatic colony. A temporary cease-fire was arranged in the Praga sector while a German emissary from
Third Army spoke with the Poles under a flag of truce on the morning of 16 September. The Polish commander refused to receive the German representative, nor would he accept a letter calling upon him to surrender. Another leaflet drop was made over the Polish capital in the afternoon of the same day, giving the population a cease-fire guarantee and 12 hours to evacuate the city. Third Army, however, suddenly resumed its shelling of Warsaw, returning the fire of the Polish batteries that either had not received or not heeded the German offer of a 12-hour truce. The barrage was finally stopped late that night, but little could be done to repair the damage to the German propaganda effort.8-1
On 17 September the Poles broadcast a request that they be allowed to send representatives to arrange the removal of noncombatants. The request was acknowledged by the Germans, who indicated their willingness to receive the Polish emissaries, although Hitler had indicated that the time allotted for evacuation had elapsed. The Polish emissaries never appeared, however.
Initial German AttacksOn 18 September OKH directed the resumption of operations against Warsaw, and Third and Tenth Armies commenced a heavy and sustained artillery bombardment of the Polish capital. The First Air Force joined the attack with a dive bomber attack on water works and other utilities on 20 September. On the ground small task forces made a series of probing attacks against the city's defenses.
Officer prisoners revealed that the garrison of Warsaw was composed in large part of regular troops, under General Rommel, former commander of the Lodz Army. Morale was good, under the circumstances, and ammunition in ample supply. The city's communications system and sources of electric power were still intact. The food situation was unknown, but at best it could only be fair in view of the large civilian population to be fed and the impossibility of any resupply from outside Warsaw. Third Army met spirited resistance to the north and east of the city, as did Tenth Army to the south and west.
Progress was slow in reducing the city of Warsaw by artillery fire and air bombardment. The garrison had made good use of the brief cease-fires to build additional barricades and weapons emplacements, and Warsaw's artillery still answered the fire of the Germans. A large militia force, hastily organized, supplemented the efforts of the Army and police. The situation with the diplomatic colony was resolved on 21 September when it was arranged for personnel of the
Figure 18. German 150mm howitzer firing on Warsaw.
neutral embassies, consulates, and missions to leave the city through the Third Army lines.
Hitler visited Third Army units on 22 September and observed the shelling of Praga from a church tower outside the city. The Fuehrer was opposed to an assault on that part of the city east of the Vistula. However, he approved an attack on that part of Warsaw west of the Vistula that would be occupied by the Germans according to the German-Soviet pact. An attack from the west would also drive the mass of the Warsaw population out of the city to the east and relieve the Germans of responsibility for them. Hitler was informed the same day of the death of General von Fritsch, whom he had removed as commander in chief of the Army over a year earlier. General von Fritsch, despite his retired status, had insisted on his prerogative as honorary regimental commander of accompanying the 12th Artillery Regiment of the 12th Infantry Division into the field, and was killed while observing a division action before Praga.8-2
The Eighth Army AttackVarious plans to take that part of Warsaw west of the Vistula were discussed and discarded. It was finally decided by OKH that Army
Figure 19. German 75mm infantry gun firing on target near Warsaw.
Group South's Eighth Army, which had finished clearing Kutno, would direct the effort to capture Warsaw. Eighth Army headquarters moved to a point southwest of the capital on 24 September, relieving Tenth Army Headquarters, which moved southward to the vicinity of Kielce again. Eighth Army quickly completed its plans and final dispositions for the attack.
The Eighth Army Commander, General Blaskowitz, was instructed that he was not to permit the civilian population to leave the city prior to the assault.8-3 The worsening food situation within Warsaw and the large numbers to be fed would aid materially in hastening the surrender of the capital.
The Eighth Army attack began on 26 September, with a heavy air and artillery bombardment followed by an assault from the south. The first and second line of bunkers were taken, and prisoners reported that communications within the city had been cut and electric power was no longer available. Third Army supported the attack by a heavy artillery barrage on Warsaw's defenses from the north. By order of Hitler, the capture of the city was to be accomplished by 3
October, before the arrival of the Russians at Praga to the east of the Vistula.
Two Polish envoys crossed the German lines north of Warsaw the evening of 26 September with a letter from General Rommel requesting a 24-hour cessation of fire and a surrender parley. The cease-fire request was refused and the German artillery fire intensified, though the Poles were informed that a local truce could be arranged in order to allow Polish emissaries to cross the lines in the event General Rommel decided to surrender the city. The incident was reported through army and army group headquarters to OKH, which directed that the surrender would be taken by Eighth Army and that only an unconditional surrender would be accepted.
General Kutrzeba appeared the following morning to accept the German terms in the name of General Rommel. The Polish envoy was immediately conducted to Eighth Army to conclude the negotiations for the surrender. Hostilities ceased at 1400 on 27 September, and 140,000 Polish troops lay down their arms, including the garrison in the eastern suburb of Praga. All Polish military personnel were ordered to be ready for evacuation by 29 September. Warsaw was in a serious situation, with over 16,000 of the garrison wounded and heavy casualties among the civilian population. The supply of drinking water had been cut off for five days, making it necessary for the garrison and population to use the water of the Vistula; an epidemic of typhoid appeared imminent. All public utilities had been heavily damaged and would require extensive repairs. The city was also on the verge of starvation.
The Capture of ModlinModlin continued to resist despite the surrender of the capital and a series of heavy attacks by the Third Army, supported by Eighth Army south of the city. The cessation of hostilities at Warsaw made large masses of artillery and increased air support available to Third Army. The bombardment of the fortress city was intensified and German infantry managed to infiltrate the first line of fortifications. An armistice was arranged at 0730 on 28 September and the formal surrender to Third Army's II Corps took place the following day. Twenty-four thousand Polish troops at Modlin laid down their arms in unconditional surrender, and German troops entered the fortress at noon. General Thommee, commander of the Modlin force, attributed his surrender to the cutting off of the water supply; the loss of food stores in the bombardment; the complete exhaustion of the defending troops, who had suffered 4,000 casualties in wounded alone; and the infantry attack.
Operations in the northern area of the Corridor became a separate campaign following the junction of the German Third and Fourth Armies. The German effort to capture the Polish port areas continued throughout all three phases of operations by Army Groups North and South, and ended only a few days before the destruction of the last organized Polish force in the field.
Gdynia and Hela8-4
The 207th Infantry Division of the I Frontier Guard Corps linked with units of Brigade Eberhard from Danzig to present a front to the Poles in the Gdynia-Wejherowo (Neustadt) area as it turned north in the upper Corridor. Brigade Eberhard was placed under operational control of I Frontier Guard Corps, and the entire command was redesignated Corps Kaupisch. Steady progress against scattered resistance was reported until 6 September, when the advancing German units began to encounter Polish naval forces committed in a ground combat role. [See maps 7 and 8.]
The major Polish unit in line was identified as a naval infantry brigade, organized by expansion of the naval infantry battalions in Wejherowo and Gdynia to the status of regiments. The naval brigade and a number of miscellaneous units were under the command of a Colonel Dabek.
Wejherowo fell on 9 September, and a tight German ring was drawn about Gdynia and the coastal area immediately to the north, known as the Oksywie (Oxhoefter) Flats. Corps Kaupisch made another important gain on 9 September when a frontier guard regiment captured the port of Puck (Putzig) to the north of Gdynia and cut the main rail line to the naval base at Hela.
Corps Kaupisch encountered heavy resistance on 10 and 11 September as it moved in on Gdynia from its three land sides. From the Danzig area Brigade Eberhard pushed north along the coast, linked on its left with the 207th Infantry Division, which made its attack from the west. The northern side of the German encirclement was held by a frontier guard regiment, which rested its left flank on the sea and had contact with the regiment that had taken Puck.
The Polish force at Hela was completely cut off from land contact with the mainland on 12 September, when the frontier guard regiment at Puck sent a strong force to the north and reached the coast. That night the Poles at Gdynia launched an attack at the boundary line between the 207th Infantry Division and Brigade Eberhard,
regained some ground, and temporarily disrupted the schedule of the German advance.
The German line was restored the following day, and on 14 September Gdynia was taken. The Polish force of Colonel Dabek was forced to retreat to the Oksywie Flats, under a steady artillery and air bombardment. The Schleswig-Holstein, lying offshore, joined the artillery bombardment the following day, and an attack by Stuka dive bombers destroyed a major ammunition depot established on the Flats by the Poles. That same day Corps Kaupisch passed to the control of the newly established Military Government Command Danzig-West Prussia. [See map 10.]
The German shelling of the Flats and a series of heavy air attacks continued through 16 and 17 September. A total of 2,000 prisoners was taken on 18 September, and the German attack of 19 September became a clearing operation. Oksywie was taken in the late afternoon and the Germans had established firm control of the Flats by evening. Colonel Dabek committed suicide rather than surrender his command.
The destruction of the Gdynia force completed German operations in the upper Corridor, except for Hela. A regimental combat team of the 207th Infantry Division, reinforced by all but one battalion of the division artillery and by the artillery of Brigade Eberhard, was assigned the task of taking Hela. The extremely narrow peninsula extending out to the Polish naval base precluded the commitment of a force of any greater size, and a seaborne landing against heavily fortified Hela promised little success without heavy losses.
The regiment assigned to take Hela made a limited advance out onto the peninsula on 21 September, to find it heavily mined and stubbornly defended. Hela was taken under fire by the Schleswig-Holstein, which was joined by the Schlesien on 24 September. The rail line used by the Poles to move their heavy artillery out to positions on the peninsula was cut by Stuka bombing on 25 September and the offshore bombardment intensified. On 27 September air support was withdrawn as the Luftwaffe was deployed to the west. With the support of the two old battleships, another ground attack was launched down the narrow peninsula on 29 September. A further attack on 30 September gained the tiny village of Ceynowa for the Germans, and a final assault was planned for 2 October.
A final German attack was not necessary. On 1 October Rear Admiral J. Unrug, commander at Hela, requested a surrender parley. The Polish emissary accepted the German terms of unconditional surrender at 1700 the same day and all resistance ceased. A total of 5,000 prisoners was taken at Hela to bring the number captured by
Corps Kaupisch during the course of operations to 18,000. Hela also yielded 41 artillery pieces of various calibers and two small naval vessels.
Hitler's order to withdraw to the demarcation line of the Narew-Vistula-San Rivers was communicated to the army groups on 20 September and necessitated a move far to the west of the line of 17 September. The Fuehrer's directive required immediate disengagement from the Polish forces still carrying on hostilities and withdrawal without delay to the west of the line formed by the three rivers.8-5
The Evacuation of Eastern Poland
The order for evacuation took little cognizance of the military situation. The German combat units in eastern Poland had several thousand wounded they had been unable to evacuate, thousands of prisoners of war, a large number of disabled tanks and other vehicles, and in addition they were in possession of large stocks of Polish Army matériel, ammunition, foodstuffs, and other supplies. Personnel, vehicles, and animals had just completed a campaign over vast distances; the men and horses required rest and the motor vehicles were in need of repairs. Rail transportation to move any but a small portion of the German forces to the west was completely inadequate.
To effect the withdrawal in orderly fashion, the German ground forces on 21 September were ordered by OKH to draw back along a series of phase lines, each located progressively farther to the west. Where possible, an interval of 15 miles was to be maintained between the Wehrmacht and the Red Army, but unit commanders were authorized to deal with the Russians should they overtake German troops on the move. The wounded were to be left behind with medical personnel for later evacuation. Captured matériel was to be evacuated by the Germans where practicable, otherwise it would be left behind for the Russians. German matériel that could not be evacuated was to be left under guard and removed later. Particular care was to be taken to destroy disabled Mark IV tanks that could not be salvaged.8-6
Negotiations with the Red Army during the evacuation were often to prove exasperating to German commanders. Despite the offers of the Soviet Government and Red Army commanders to give armed support to German units still engaged with the remnants of the Polish Army, the Russians procrastinated about active assistance in most cases until the Germans no longer needed it. The problem of identification was also to plague German commanders. The Red
Army and Polish Army uniforms were somewhat similar, and German units not infrequently mistook one for the other.
The civilian population that had fled eastward at the approach of the Germans was also to become a problem during the evacuation of eastern Poland. Fearful of the Russians, the mass of refugees that had fled into eastern Poland before the Germans turned about and moved westward again, clogging the already inadequate road system and blocking military traffic.
The Army Group North AreaThe XIX Corps turned Brzesc over to the Red Army on 22 September in a formal ceremony in which both German and Russian units paraded. The corps then began its return to East Prussia, where tanks and other motor vehicles could receive urgently needed repairs and maintenance. [See map 10.]
On 23 September units of the 10th Panzer Division engaged in a sharp skirmish with advancing Russian cavalry. Russian losses were reported as 2 dead and 23 wounded. The incident was attributed to a mistake in identification and was settled by the local German and Russian commanders.8-7 A number of other localities were turned over to the control of the Red Army without incident.
General von Bock commented at some length on the impression made by the Russians. The Army Group North commander noted that the Red Army was poorly disciplined and the troops were unsoldierly in appearance.8-8 The political commisars were truculent and unfriendly. Bock directed that contact would be maintained only through officers and that there would be no general fraternization.
The evacuation in the Army Group North area was almost completed by the time Warsaw surrendered. Only a few German units remained east of the demarcation line, hunting down Polish units or safeguarding installations of military importance until the arrival of the Russians. The XXI Corps, with one division and a number of security units, maintained contact with the Russians in the north of the army group area. In the southern part of the army group area contact was maintained by units of I Corps near Warsaw.
The headquarters of Army Group North and Fourth Army returned to East Prussia preparatory to movement to the west, and on 2 October the area of responsibility of Army Group North was transferred to Third Army in a formal ceremony. Third Army promptly set about securing the northern Polish areas under German control.8-9
The Army Group South AreaRundstedt reported the destruction of the Polish concentrations south of Bilgoraj during the several days preceding the receipt of orders to evacuate eastern Poland. Fourteenth Army on 20 September also reported the capture of 11,000 prisoners northwest of Lwow, ending operations in that area. The siege of Lwow was still in progress when Army Group South received orders to withdraw west of the Vistula-San River line.8-10 [See map 10.]
The evacuation order instructed Rundstedt to leave the reduction of Lwow to the Russians. The attack planned by XVIII Corps for 21 September wa9 cancelled, and the corps prepared to move to the west. Contact had already been established with the Russians when Red Army tanks had suddenly appeared at Winniki, southeast of Lwow.
The Polish garrison of Lwow abruptly and unexpectedly surrendered to the 1st Mountain Division as it made ready to withdraw from its siege lines on 21 September. The occupation of the city was left to the Russians and the 1st Mountain Division moved westward toward the San with the rest of the XVIII Corps.8-11
Tenth Army ceased operations at Chelm and began its withdrawal to the west of the demarcation line. Chelm had already been taken under artillery fire and preparations were under way for an infantry assault when the withdrawal order arrived.
A heavy engagement was reported in the Tenth Army area on 23 September, when a strong Polish force attacked the withdrawing Germans in the Zamosc region. Tenth Army reacted quickly, surrounding part of the Polish force southwest of Zamosc and driving the remainder to the south and into the area to be occupied by the Red Army.
By 30 September Eighth Army was engaged in evacuating the Polish garrison of Warsaw and with the numerous tasks involved in establishing control over the Polish capital. Tenth Army was still in contact with Polish remnants east of the Vistula, and Fourteenth Army had completed its evacuation to the San River.
Several incidents occurred during this period in the Fourteenth Army area when German and Russian troops exchanged fire. The incidents were settled by the local commanders concerned and no further action was taken by either side.
On 1 October Tenth Army was alerted for movement back to Germany. At the same time, OKH informed Army Group South that the demarcation line had been changed again and would follow the
Figure 20. Polish garrison of Warsaw marching out of city after the surrender.
Pisia and Narew Eivers to Ostroleka, thence past Ostrow Mazowiecka to the Bug, south along the latter to a point east of Tomaszow, west to the San, and south to the Slovak frontier. This would extend the German zone to the east, in places over 100 miles. The change had been made at the request of the Soviet Government, which desired to add Lithuania to its own sphere of influence. In exchange for Lithuania the Russians were willing to give the Germans that area of Poland between Warsaw and the Bug River.8-12 [See map 10.]
Army Group South's commander was redesignated OB EAST (Oberbefehlshaber Ost) as of 3 October, with responsibility for all of occupied Poland. Under this reorganization, Rundstedt became the Commander in Chief East.8-13
The last organized stand by the Polish Army was made at Kock, where heavy fighting raged from 4 to 6 October. Panzer and motorized infantry units of Tenth Army ended this last Polish resistance, and the Kock force surrendered on 6 October, adding 17,000 more to the total of prisoners taken by the Germans. The Polish Campaign was over, though sporadic fighting was to continue in some of the more remote areas for a considerable period.
The German Army suffered a total of 8,082 officers and men killed, 27,278 wounded, and 5,029 missing in its 36 days of operations in Poland. Luftwaffe and Navy losses were much lighter.8-14 The figure on missing Army personnel can be considered as high, in view of the fact that the German Army destroyed the Polish Army and recovered most prisoners taken by organized military units.
Results of the Campaign
Two hundred and seventeen tanks were destroyed during the period 1-30 September, including 89 Mark I vehicles, 83 Mark II's, 26 Mark III's, and 19 Mark IV's.8-15 Neutral sources also reported over 400 German aircraft of all types destroyed. Sustained operations over poor roads and rough terrain far ahead of maintenance facilities was extremely wearing on armored vehicles as well as trucks, requiring extensive repair work at the end of the campaign. German aircraft that participated in the campaign were in little better condition by the end of operations, having had to fly repeated sorties as the weather permitted, often from bases with only the most primitive landing and few if any maintenance facilities. The situation in the XIX Corps perhaps best exemplified the mate´riel situation by the end of operations when the entire corps was temporarily immobilized in East Prussia while its tanks, armored cars, and trucks were overhauled and repaired.
The Polish losses were staggering. The Germans claimed 694,000 prisoners of war, out of some 800,000 who had served in Poland's defense; the remainder were killed, captured by the Russians, had fled into Romania or Hungary, or had hidden in isolated areas of their own country. The Germans, by their own count, captured a total of 3,214 field pieces, 16,500 machine guns, 1,700 mortars, and enormous quantities of small arms and ammunition.8-16 The captured ordnance and other matériel was not considered suitable for issue by Wehrmacht standards, but could be put to use by Germany's various satellites.
The civilian population which came under German control as a result of the campaign comprised approximately 221/2 million persons. Some three-quarters of a million were ethnic Germans and available for military service. Some of the other minorities, as the Ukrainians, were not opposed to cooperation and service with the Germans. However, the bulk of the Polish population under German control were considered as the people of an occupied country. As a result, sizeable
military forces had to be maintained in Poland until the time that the Wehrmacht began to concentrate its forces in the east for the campaign against the Soviet Union more than a year later. The units assigned to this occupation duty were usually of far lower combat potential than those assigned to front-line service, but the necessity of keeping a military force in Poland at all tied down personnel and equipment that might have been put to use elsewhere in the major war effort in which the Reich now found itself engaged.
The Intervention of the Soviet Union
The rapid progress of the German armies by 3 September prompted Foreign Minister Ribbentrop to dispatch a cable to Moscow, suggesting the movement of Red Army troops into eastern Poland. Molotov's reply was equivocal, stating that the Soviet Government felt the time not yet proper. However, the Soviet Foreign Minister committed his government to intervention at a time when it would be advantageous to the Soviet Union and to Germany.9-1
Ribbentrop dispatched a second cable on the matter of intervention on 9 September, calling attention to the fact that the Soviet military attaché had been recalled to Moscow. Molotov's reply promised military action within the next few days. The Soviet Foreign Minister also admitted that the summoning of the military attaché to Moscow had been prompted by the impending movement of the Red Army into Poland.
The German Ambassador in Moscow dispatched two additional cables to Berlin on 9 and 10 September. According to the German Ambassador, Molotov had promised more than the Red Army could accomplish within the span of a few days. The Soviet Government had been surprised by the speed of the German advance, and Red Army preparations' for a movement on the scale required were still far from complete. Three million men had been mobilized, but some logistical arrangements still had to be made. Schools were being transformed into temporary hospitals, the supply of gasoline for nonmilitary uses had been curtailed, and certain foodstuffs had already disappeared from the open market.
The cables further indicated that Molotov was desirous of minimizing the odium attached to an aggressive move into eastern Poland. Thus the Russians would announce that the Red Army was coming to the aid of the Ukrainians and Byelorussians (White Russians) resident in eastern Poland who were threatened by the advancing Germans. The Soviet Union was also concerned about a recent announcement by General von Brauchitsch that had been interpreted as an indication that a Polish-German armistice was imminent.
Ribbentrop assured the Soviet Foreign Minister on 13 September that the Brauchitsch statement referred only to the disputed Corridor
and other areas adjoining the Reich where organized Polish resistance had ceased. Meanwhile, German forces had advanced to and beyond the Narew-Vistula-San River line and forced the mass of the Polish armies into the encirclements at Kutno and Radom.
On 14 September Ribbentrop was informed that Soviet preparations were complete and a movement into eastern Poland could be expected shortly. However, the Soviet Government refused to order the Red Army to move until the Polish capital had been taken, and requested that the German Government estimate the date by which the capture of Warsaw might be accomplished.
Ribbentrop's reply of the following day, 15 September, contained a note of urgency. The German Foreign Minister stated that the fall of the Polish capital was a matter of only a few days. He urged an immediate move by the Russians, to prevent eastern Poland becoming a political vacuum or the population forming one or more small states. Ribbentrop further proposed the issuance of a joint communique to the effect that Germany and the Soviet Union were moving into Poland to restore peace and order in an area of interest to the Reich and the Soviet state. This would make unnecessary the announcement that the Russians were intervening in Poland in behalf of Russian minorities threatened by the Germans. Ribbentrop ended his cable with a request that the Soviet Government set a date and hour for the movement of troops across the Polish-Russian frontier.
Molotov's answer of 16 September promised military action the next day or the day following; Stalin was in conference with military leaders and would give the date and time that night. At 0200 on 17 September, in the presence of Molotov, the German Ambassador was informed by Stalin that Soviet troops would move into Poland at 0600 that same day. Stalin requested that German aircraft remain west of the line Bialystok-Brzesc-Lwow, since Russian aircraft would begin bombing operations in the area of Lwow immediately following the crossing of the frontier. Stalin closed the interview with the request that all military matters henceforth be conducted between Marshal Voroshilov for the Red Army and Generalleutnant Ernst Koestring, Germany Military Attaché in Moscow.
From available records it appears that the German Foreign Minister and other government leaders had not taken the military officers directing operations into their confidence on the negotiations being carried on between Berlin and Moscow. Jodl mentioned later that he was informed of the impending move by the Red Army only two or three days before it took place. Warlimont, chief operations officer of Jodl's Armed Forces Operations Office, states that he knew nothing of the move until called by General Koestring from Moscow
the morning the Red Army crossed the frontier.9-2 Koestring himself had not been fully advised of the Red Army's preparations and plans to cross into Poland.9-3 As a result of this lack of direction from the Reich's highest official quarters, which were themselves completely uninformed of the actual Russian intentions until less than four hours before the actual intervention of the Soviet Union, German troops continued to move eastward and beyond the demarcation line which had been agreed upon. Some German units could not disengage from contact with the Poles immediately upon receipt of orders to do so; others were forced to fight a series of rear guard actions as they moved back to the demarcation line.
The joint communique issued on 18 September stated only that the Russian movement into Poland did not conflict with the nonaggression pact and that both German and Soviet Governments desired only to restore order and assist the Poles to reestablish their political existence. Two days later the Soviet Government proposed that no residual Polish Government be formed and that the country be partitioned along the line formed by the Soviet and German spheres of influence agreed upon in the nonaggression pact. The Reich Government immediately assented and Ribbentrop prepared to go to Moscow to conclude negotiations and settle the fate of the Polish state.9-4
The stipulation that a wide interval would be maintained between the withdrawing Germans and the advancing Russians made it difficult to obtain precise information about the size or composition of the Red Army force that entered eastern Poland. German military reports of the first few days make reference only to "Russian units." Repeated contacts where one force met the other, as at Brzesc and Lwow, soon gave the Germans a somewhat clearer picture of the Russian military situation.
The Red Army's Intervention Forces
The Red Army crossed the border into eastern Poland with two army groups, called "fronts" in Soviet usage.9-5 It was of particular interest to the Germans to note that the units of these two fronts were drawn from the interior of the Soviet Union. Garrison troops in the frontier areas remained at their home stations, and the defensive capability of the Red Army in the western Soviet Union was not greatly weakened by the venture into Poland.
The White Russian Front, in the north, was commanded by Army Commander Kovalev, with headquarters in Minsk. (The regular
ranks for general officers, except for marshals, had not yet been reintroduced in the Red Army.) The front consisted of the Third and Eleventh Armies, the former assigned the mission of advancing on Brzesc and Bialystok while the latter moved into the area of Poland adjacent to the Lithuanian and East Prussian frontiers. The Third Army comprised one. tank, one cavalry, and one infantry corps, with a total of two infantry and three cavalry divisions and an unknown number of tank brigades. The Eleventh Army controlled three similar corps, with one additional infantry division.
The Ukrainian Front, on the south, was commanded by Army Commander Timoshenko, with headquarters at Proskurov, east of Lwow. The front consisted of the First and Tenth Armies, the former assigned the mission of moving on Lwow while the latter advanced on the Lublin area. The First Army was the far stronger of the two, with a tank corps, two cavalry corps, and four infantry corps. First Army had a total of at least six infantry and six cavalry divisions, and an undetermined number of tank brigades. The Tenth Army comprised only two corps, with two cavalry divisions and an undetermined number of infantry divisions.
According to the estimates made at OKW, the Russians committed a total of at least 20 to 24 infantry divisions, 15 cavalry divisions, and 9 tank brigades to the advance into Poland. No figures were given on the number of troops that this may have involved. Since they expected to meet little or no resistance and possibly in order to impress the Poles and Germans, the Russians sent their tank and motorized units on ahead, where the terrain permitted, followed by the infantry at some interval. Horse cavalry units were used in broken country or areas in which the road net did not permit the use of motor vehicles. This accounts for the frequent mention in German headquarters journals of the sudden appearance of Russian armored and horse cavalry units.
The actions of the Russians on moving into Poland put the lie to their claims of assistance to the Russian minorities. The Red Army offered the Germans armed assistance wherever it should be necessary, even though this assistance usually came too late, and destroyed or captured organized Polish forces with which it came into contact even prior to the surrender of Warsaw and the destruction of the last major Polish force at Kock. Little information as to Russian activities in eastern Poland was allowed to leak out once the Red Army established control of the area; no mention at all of these activities appears in German reports of the period, possibly due in some part to lack of interest in areas beyond the control of the Wehrmacht and in which the Reich had no immediate concern, but more likely because of the stringent security measures taken by the Russians in their newly acquired territories.
Three military government commands, responsible directly to OKH, followed the German armies into Poland. These commands had army status, and were placed in control of the three military government areas (Militaerbezirke) into which western Poland was arbitrarily divided; headquarters were at Danzig, Poznan, and Cracow. The officers in charge of these commands were known as military government commanders (Militaerbefehlshaber), and their mission during the period of operations consisted chiefly of securing the German counterpart to the United States Army's communications zone, from the border of the Reich to the rear areas of the field armies. To carry out their mission, the military government commands were assigned one or two third--or fourth‹wave divisions, some frontier guard units that had crossed the border with the Army, and a number of security battalions consisting of troops of the older age groups.
The Fourth Partition and German Occupation of Poland
The command at Poznan was the first to take control of its assigned area, moving in 11 September, under General der Artillerie Alfred von Vollard-Bockelberg.10-1 The second, at Danzig and responsible for the former German province of West Prussia, moved in the following day, under General der Artillerie Walter Heitz. The third, at Cracow, was commanded by General List of the Fourteenth Army, functioning in a dual role, and assisted by a small additional staff. This last command became operational on 13 September.10-2
By 25 September the end of the campaign was fast approaching and Hitler ordered the establishment of a military government organization for the occupied Polish territories. This organization would include four area military government commands, with headquarters at Poznan, Danzig, Cracow, and Lodz.10-3 The Fuehrer selected Rundstedt as commander in chief for the conquered eastern territories, placing him in control of tactical units and military government. Army Group North and Fourth Army headquarters soon left for the
west, to be followed shortly by Tenth Army. On its transition to OB EAST, Rundstedt's headquarters found itself in control of the four military government commands and the three armies remaining in Poland.
On 3 October a change was also made in the tactical organization when three frontier army commands were established to secure the new frontier with the Soviet Union. Third Army, which had moved to Ortelsburg in East Prussia, was redesignated Frontier Army Command North; Eighth Army was redesignated Frontier Army Command Center, with its commander functioning concurrently as Military Government Commander Lodz; and Fourteenth Army was renamed Frontier Army Command South, with its commander ecoming concurrently Military Government Commander Cracow. The three headquarters retained their army status but reference to them was made by their territorial designations.10-4
West Prussia and the Poznan areas were annexed to Germany as Reichsgarue (administrative districts under the German Ministry of the Interior) on 8 October, the annexation to be effective as of 1 November. A small strip of Silesia taken by Poland after World War I was also annexed directly to Silesia. At the same time Wehrkreise XX and XXI were formed in the areas of the new Reichsgaue. The Military Government Command Danzig-West Prussia became the headquarters of Wehrkreis XX and the Military Government Command Poznan became Wehrkreis XXI.10-5 As Wehrkreise, these commands were transferred to the control of the Replacement and Training Army.
On 12 October Hitler directed the establishment of a government general under civilian control for the area of German-occupied Poland not annexed to the Reich. This was done to ensure the carrying out of Hitler's policy of ruthless destruction of the Polish nation, a task he was convinced the Army would not complete. As governor general he appointed Dr. Hans Frank, a lawyer and National Socialist Party figure, who had functioned as chief civilian administrator for Rundstedt. Frank would be responsible to Hitler, with Dr. Seyss-Inquart as his deputy. Hitler felt that he could depend on Frank to put his racial theories as expressed in Mein Kampf into practice. The government general, however, was not to become operational until such time as Hitler decreed the military government of Poland at an end.10-6
Brauchitsch, through Keitel, brought the Army's protest against this reorganization to Hitler on 17 October. Hitler replied that
the Army would be relieved of the administration of the occupied territories and remained firm in his decision to establish a civilian administration; his decision was made public by decree on 19 October 1939, when it was directed that as of 26 October the occupation of Poland would be directed by the government general of Dr. Frank. Headquarters OB EAST would be responsible only for security and the defense of Germany against any attack from that quarter.10-7
Effective 26 October East Prussia (Wehrkreis I) was added to the command of OB EAST for defensive purposes and the commanding general of Frontier Army Command North became concurrently commanding general of Wehrkreis I. This realinement of forces gave OB EAST a solid front from the Baltic southward to Romania. In addition to the three frontier army commands, OKH assigned OB EAST the XXXI, XXXII, XXXIV, XXXV, and XXXVI Corps Commands, formed on 5 October 1939 from the frontier commands that had participated in the attack on Poland, with 12 third- and fourth-wave divisions, a cavalry brigade, and various security units.
The redeployment from Poland did not fill the requirement for combat-experienced commands and staffs for the direction of the campaign against France, which Hitler still hoped to launch before the end of the year. As a consequence, an exchange of headquarters became necessary. On 13 October the Fourteenth Army staff less the small group originally assigned to General List for the purpose of establishing a military government organization in southern Poland was replaced as headquarters of Frontier Army Command South by the staff of Army "A" (a provisional army formed to control units along the Netherlands frontier in September 1939) under General der Artillerie Alexander Ulex from the western front. The Eighth Army staff on the same day was replaced by the Fifth Army staff of General der Infanterie Liebmann as headquarters of Frontier Army Command Center at Lodz. The next move was that of Rundsted's headquarters itself. The planning for the compaign in the west revealed the need for another army group headquarters. On 18 October Rundstedt and his former Army Group South headquarters (that had been temporarily designated OB EAST) began their move to the west.
General Blaskowitz was appointed to succeed Rundstedt on 19 October and Frontier Army Command Center headquarters was redesignated OB EAST. The organization of a new headquarters for the Frontier Army Command Center area was begun immediately, but by 30 October the needs of the western front were so pressing that it was decided to use the personnel and equipment collected
for the formation of the Eighteenth Army headquarters in western Germany. As no further personnel were available to form a substitute staff, OB EAST had to assume a concurrent function as Frontier Army Command Center, effective 2 November. By late October only one of the original army headquarters remained in the east--Third Army which was functioning as Frontier Army Command North. On 22 October Third Army relinquished its responsibilities as Frontier Army Command North to Wehrkreis I and moved to the west to become the Sixteenth Army. The area of responsibility of Wehrkreis I was enlarged to include that area of Poland which had been the responsibility of Frontier Army Command North.
During the winter and early spring of 1940 the needs of the other fronts made further demands on OB EAST and a number of the corps commands and most of the third-wave divisions were withdrawn from Poland. The OB EAST (and Frontier Army Command Center) staff of Blaskowitz was moved to the west to become the nucleus of the new Ninth Army headquarters. Frontier Army Command South headquarters became OB EAST, with the XXXIV and XXXV Corps Commands and seven newly organized security divisions, while Wehrkreis I retained control of three new security divisions. This remained the OB EAST organization until the end of the French campaign, when Eighteenth Army and a number of corps and combat divisions could be transferred from France to the east.
The German campaign in Poland in 1939 has been regarded by many as little more than a maneuver for the youthful Wehrmacht. However, the casualty figures and losses in matériel for the period of combat show that the campaign was more than an exercise with live ammunition. Rundstedt supported this view on operations in Poland in one of his rare commentaries following World War II.11-1 The bulk of the German armed forces had to be committed to overcome the Poles, and the expenditure in ammunition, gasoline, and matériel was such as to preclude concurrent German operations on a similar scale in the west or elsewhere.
The unrealistic impression of the campaign was heightened by the German propaganda effort that proceeded apace with operations in the field. The German armies were depicted as highly motorized, with tank support out of proportion to the actual number of armored vehicles they had available, and with fleets of aircraft supporting ground units on short notice with maximum efficiency. Little mention was made of the horse drawn supply columns, of the infantry divisions which often marched on foot at the rate of 30 miles per day, or of the repeated Luftwaffe bombings of advance German units.11-2
The exaggeration of the picture of the new German war machine should not be construed to mean that the Wehrmacht was not a most effective fighting organization and had not accomplished much in putting the theory of mobile warfare to the test of battle. "Panzer" division and "Luftwaffe" soon became familiar terms in English and other foreign languages. It was obvious even to those not versed in military affairs that the era of trench warfare on the World War I pattern had ended. The element of movement had been restored to
war, even though fewer than one in six of the German divisions mobilized during the period of the Polish Campaign were Panzer or motorized divisions. Except for the XVI and XIX Corps, the German Panzer force had also been committed piecemeal, and full advantage was not taken of the shock power of the Panzer division in the campaign in Poland.
The opportunity for a successful Allied attack against the Westwall had passed by the time the Polish Campaign ended. Hitler and his generals were well aware of the risk they had taken in throwing almost all their resources into the gamble for a quick victory in the east, as exemplified in their redeployment of divisions and higher commands from the Polish theater to the Westwall before operations in Poland had been completed.
The situation faced by the British and French in October 1939 was that of a fait accompli. Germany had defeated Poland completely and redeployed to the Westwall forces sufficient to withstand a belated Allied offensive. Adolf Hitler's success in Poland also enhanced the Fuehrer's opinion of his own abilities as a strategist and further encouraged him to deprecate the advice of his military staff and senior commanders. Germany's increasing strength and the continued inactivity of the Western Allies soon inclined Hitler to order planning to commence for a fast-moving campaign to subjugate France and destroy the British Expeditionary Force. Only the onset of winter and the strongest objections from his military advisers prompted Hitler to delay his campaign until the following spring.
The German forces took advantage of the opportunity to observe the effectiveness and utility of their new weapons and other materiel, organization, and tactics in combat operations in Poland and a number of improvements were found necessary. Some changes could be made before the campaign in France the following spring, while others would have to wait.
Lessons Learned by Ihe Wehrmacht
MatérielAmong the infantry weapons, the Model 1934 machine gun was found to be subject to frequent stoppages in rugged field use, particularly in muddy or dusty areas.11-3 Research on a new machine gun was accelerated, and the Model 1942 that evolved would continue to operate despite exposure to many of the conditions that hampered the use of the Model 1934 weapon. The higher rate of fire of the 1942 machine gun was to be of considerable significance in later operations.
The effort expended by Germany in the development of artillery of all types was found to be justified. According to Colonel Blumentritt, operations officer for Rundstedt, the Poles themselves testified to the effectiveness of the German artillery fire in the attack on Warsaw. The defenders had received warning of air attacks with the appearance of German aircraft and the bombing had been of limited duration. The sustained artillery fire, however, wore down the resistance of the garrison of the Polish capital.11-4
The 88mm antiaircraft gun was found to be especially effective in engaging bunkers and prepared fortifications. The VIII Corps made reference to this of the new gun in attacking the Polish fortifications at Nikolai. According to the VIII Corps account, the gun could penetrate the walls of bunkers and buildings reinforced as strongpoints.
The German Mark I tanks were found to be unsatisfactory in operations, and the Mark II tanks were useful only for reconnaissance. This served to confirm the belief that these tanks were too light for operations and should be replaced by heavier types. Panzer units were henceforth equipped with a larger proportion of Mark III and Mark IV tanks. The heavier of the two, the Mark IV tank, was singled out by Guderian as a highly effective weapon to be produced in quantity.11-5 The Mark II tank was utilized for a time as a reconnaissance vehicle, and eventually the Mark I and II tank chassis were utilized as gun platforms for the self-propelled gun units organized for assault operations. In general, the supply of spare parts and system of maintenance for tanks was found to be inadequate for the needs of Panzer units in combat.11-6
The rapid and overwhelming successes and light personnel losses of the new German tank force in the Polish Campaign, as illustrated by the movements of the XIX Corps across the Polish Corridor and from East Prussia to Brzesc, convinced Hitler of the effectiveness of this new weapon. In 10 days of operations the XIX Corps covered 200 miles in its drive on Brzesc. Polish reserve units still assembling in the rear areas were completely surprised and destroyed before they could organize a defense. In an action at Zabinka, east of Brzesc, elements of the XIX Corps interrupted the unloading of tanks at a rail siding and destroyed the Polish armored unit before it could deploy and give battle. The corps' losses totalled 2,236, including 650 dead, 1,345 wounded, and 241 missing, less than 4 percent of
Guderian's entire force. Henceforth, as in the coming French Campaign, Panzer units were to play an increasingly important part in German planning.
OrganizationGuderian recommended that battalion and regimental headquarters of Panzer units be located farther forward to direct the battle. Headquarters should be more mobile, restricted to a few armored vehicles, and well equipped with radio communication. The XIX Corps commander also recommended better communication with the supply columns and trains of the armored and motorized units.
The light divisions were found to have little staying power in sustained operations in Poland. These divisions already had at least one tank battalion each. The addition of a sufficient number of tanks to form a tank regiment for each division made it possible to complete the planned conversion of all four light divisions to Panzer divisions, bearing the numbers 6 through 9.
The motorized infantry divisions were found to be unwieldly in operations in Poland. To permit better control, one motorized infantry regiment was detached from each of the motorized divisions.
EquipmentSome infantry commanders complained of the awkward and heavy packs carried by the troops, recommending changes to permit the individual soldier greater freedom of action and more comfort. One commander recommended the carrying of machine gun ammunition by the ammunition carriers of gun crews in containers similar to those used by mortar crews, i.e. in a special pack carried by the individual soldier rather than in boxes carried by hand. This would permit the ammunition bearer to operate a rifle, giving the gun crew more protection and fire power. In addition a special grenade sack was recommended for the individual soldier. It was also requested that one rifleman in the infantry squad be provided with a telescopic sight to permit accurate fire on small or more distant targets.
The 57th Infantry Division prepared a report on its experiences illustrating a number of the small oversights that added to the problems of the commanders of lower units. The division was a Wave II organization composed largely of reservists who had recently completed their periods of active service. During their two years of active duty, the men had been trained on the Model 1934 machine gun. When they were mobilized for the campaign in Poland, many did not know how to operate the older World War I type weapon with which some Wave II units were still equipped. Another oversight was the supply of horseshoes, made to a size common to military horses but far
too small for the splayed hooves of many farm horses requisitioned at the time of mobilization.11-7
Some fault was found with the equipment carried by assault engineers. Their heavy gear made it difficult for the engineers to carry out their assault role with the infantry. It was recommended that their equipment be so distributed that the engineers would be able to operate effectively as part of the infantry-engineer team in assault operations.11-8
Training and TacticsThe infantry tactics of the Germans were criticized by Bock, who felt that too much was sacrificed to caution. This may seem somewhat contradictory, in view of the brief period of time in which the Germans destroyed a Polish force almost as strong as their own numerically and captured a number of heavily fortified areas that the Poles defended stubbornly. Bock actually had reference to the frequent delays incurred when artillery had to be brought forward to the support of infantry units. The general felt that some artillery batteries should always be attached directly to infantry units, to give close support in an attack or movement forward. The remainder of the artillery should be sufficiently mobile to move forward to support attacking infantry with little delay. Bock expressed the opinion that the old adage "The infantry must wait for the artillery" should be changed to "The artillery may not delay the infantry."11-9
Bock further felt that the German infantry training directives were obsolete and verbose. The commander of the northern army group was of the opinion that these regulations should be shortened and should stress the mission and aggressive action to accomplish it. Brief and pertinent regulations would be easier to remember and would impress on the officer, noncommissioned officer, and soldier the all-important task he was to perform in combat, with minimum distraction.
Another characteristic of warfare in eastern Europe as learned by the Germans was the considerable guerrilla activity in rear areas. As a consequence, it was recommended by a number of commanders that supply trains, workshops, and other rear installations be better equipped with weapons, particularly automatic weapons, and support personnel trained in their use.
The successful night attacks of the Poles made a considerable impression on the Germans. Although already aware of the advantage
of moving by night, a device they used repeatedly, the Germans did not fully appreciate the potentialities of attacking under cover of darkness until shown by the Poles. With adequate security, these operations could cause considerable confusion when launched at the boundaries between units, as demonstrated by the Polish night attack of 12 September at the junction of the 207th Infantry Division and Brigade Eberhard lines before Gdynia.
Air SupportThe Luftwaffe in Poland succeeded in proving its offensive power as an attack weapon, despite the protests of some senior army commanders whose troops had been bombed in close support operations. The Luftwaffe demonstrated its capabilities in isolating the Polish front by bombing bridges and rail lines, and preventing the movement of Polish supplies and troops by bombing and strafing truck columns on the roads. The Luftwaffe also rendered material assistance to advancing German armored columns and dive bombed Polish fortifications prior to attack by the ground forces. From this point the Luftwaffe was to have an important role as part of the German attack team.11-10
The complete cover given ground forces by the Luftwaffe in Poland worked a disservice to the Army as far as camouflage was concerned. Despite instructions, there was little actual need for advancing units to utilize available cover and concealment at halts; for artillery to put up camouflage nets to hide guns, ammunition, and prime movers; or for command posts to limit vehicular traffic in their immediate vicinity. The Polish Air Force was unable to take advantage of this laxity on the part of many units, and the pace of the campaign made it impossible for higher commanders to take corrective action while operations were still in progress. As a consequence, a poor start in camouflage discipline was made by many units, and the lack of offensive action by the Polish Air Force made it impossible to point out examples of what might occur were the Wehrmacht to be committed against an enemy possessing an air force comparable to the Luftwaffe.
Table of Contents * Previous Part (Chapter 4-5) * Next Part (Bibliography)
6-1. "Essay by Grossadmiral Doenitz on the War at Sea," p. 12. X-495. Foreign Studies Br, OCMH.
6-2. Alan Bullock, Hitler, a Study in Tyranny (New York, 1952) pp. 502-03.
6-3. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section was taken from Kriegstagebuch "eldzug in Polen, Heeretgruppe Nord, 1.9.S9-2.10.39. 1-3 Sep. P. 600a. CRS, TAG.
6-4. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section was taken from, Kreigstagebuch der Heeresgruppe Sued in Polen 1939. 1-6 Sep, E 129/1. CRS, TAG.
6-5. OKH, Gen. 8t. d. H. Op. Abt. (1) Nr. 10k3/39, Geheime Kommandosache, and telecon Rundstedt and Brauchitsch, in ibid.
6-6. "Der Einsatz der Luftwaffe im polnischen Feldzug," pp. 18-46. X-244 Foreign Studies Br, OCMH.
6-7. Weigung Nr. 2 fuer die Kriegsfuehrung, 3 Sep 39, OKW/WFA Nr. 175/39 g. K. Chefs. LI. PS-438. Records of the I.M.T., National Archives.
7-1. Lt Gen M. Norwid Neugebauer, The Defence of Poland (September 1939) (London, 1942), p. 150.
7-2. Kriegstagebuch Feldzug in Polen, Heeresgruppe Nord, 1.9.39-2.10.39. 4-17 Sep. P. 600a. CRS, TAG.
7-3. "Bock Diary," pp. 20-25.
7-4. Kriegstagebuch des Oeneralkommandos XIX A. K. ueber dem Feldzug in Polen, 1.9.39- 25.9.39. P-250a. CRS, TAG.
7-5. Kriegstagebuch der Heeresgruppe Sued in Polen 1939. 7-17 Sep, E 129/1. CRS, TAG
8-1. Kriegstagebuch Feldzug in Polen, Heeresgruppe Word, 1.9.39-2.10.39. 15-28 Sep. p. 600a. CRS, TAG.
8-2. An account of the incident by a Lt Rosenhagen, who was with General von Fritsch at the time of his death, is included in Anlagenheft V zum Ktb, Meldungen der unterst Men Armeen, in ibid.
8-3. Angriffsanweisung Warschau fuer 8. Artn.ee, H. Or. Sued, la, 21.9.30 in Kreigstagetuch der Heeresgruppe Sued in Polen 1939. 21 Sep. E 129/1. CRS, TAG.
8-4. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section was taken from: XXXI A. K., Orenzgchutz-Abschn. Kdo. 1 (Korps Kaupisch)-Ia, Samelakte Korridor-Odingen-Hela, Kriegstaoebuch u. Anlagen, August-Ohtober 1939. E 292, 1. CRS, TAG.
8-5. Kriegstagebuch Feldzug in Polen, Heeresgruppe Nord, 1.9.39-2.10.39. 1-3 Sep. P. 600a; and Kriegstagebuch der Heeresgruppe Sued in Polen 1939. 20 Sep, E 129/1. CRS, TAG.
8-6. O. K. H. Oenstb. d. H. Op. Abt., I/II Nr. 1121/39 g, in Anlagenheft I zum Ktb, Befehle des OKH, 4.7.39-1.10.39, Kriegstagebuch Feldzug in Polen, Heeresgruppe Nord, 1.9.39-2.10.39. P. 600a. CRS, TAG.
8-7. Kriegstagehuch des Generalkommandos XIX A. K. ueber den Feldzug in Polen, 1.9.39-25.9.39. P-250a. CRS, TAG.
8-8. "Bock Diary," p. 53.
8-9. Kriegstagebuch Feldzug in Polen, Heeresgruppe Nord, 1.9.39-2.10.39. 2 Oct. P. 600a. CRS, TAG.
8-10. Kriegstagebuch der Heeresgruppe Sued in Polen 1939. 20 Sep. E. 129/1. CRS, TAG.
8-11. Gen Hubert Lanz, Gebirgsjaeger (Bad Nauheim, 1954). pp. 55-56.
8-12. Nazi-Soviet Relations, op. cit., pp. 102-08.
8-13. Kriegstagebuch der Heeresgruppe Sued in Polen 1939. 27 Sep. E 129/1. CRS, TAG.
8-14. Der Heeresarzt im Oberkommando des Heeres, Gen St d H/Oen Qu, Am: 1335 d IIb. Hl/176a. CRS, TAG.
8-15. Report of Heereswaffenamt, pt. IV. H 15/40. CRS, TAG.
8-16. Kriegswissenschaftliche Abteilung, Oeneralstab des Heeres, "Der Feldzug in Polen im September 1939" (Gotha, 1941), p. 21.
9-1. Nazi-Soviet Relations, op. cit., pp. 86-96.
9-2. Ltr, Gen Warlimont to OCMH, 9 Feb 55, p. 10. Author's file.
9-3. Statement, Gen Ernst Koestring, 24 Oct 1951 in MS #P-108. Foreign Studies Br, OCMH.
9-4. Nazi-Soviet Relations, op. cit., pp. 101-02.
9-5. OKH, OQu IV, Abt. Frem.de Heere Oat, Nr. L 55/39 geh. and OKH, OQu IV, Abt. Fremde Heere Ost, Nr. L 6S/S9 geh. OKW/918. CRS, TAG.
10-1. OKH, GenStdH, Op Abt (II), Nr. 2059/30 geh, in Anlagenheft I to Kriegstagebuch Feldzug in Polen, Heeresgruppe Nord, 1.9.39‹2.10.39. P. 600a. CRS, TAG.
10-2. Neuaufstellung von Kommandobehoerden in September 1939, in Die personelle Entwicklung des Oeneralstabes des Heeres waehrend des Krieges 1939-10. H. 23/109. CRS, TAG.
10-3. Hoeheres Kommando XXXIII, KTB, 7 Oct 39. E 271/1. CRS, TAG.
10-4. Mil Befh v Posen, Anlagen mum KTB, 7.9.39‹13.10.39. P 33b. CRS, TAG.
10-5. OKH/Oen Std H/Org Abt (IT), Nr 829/39 geh. H. 37/96. CRS, TAG.
10-6. I.M.T., XXIX. Doc 2233-PS, p. 368.
10-7. Allgemeines Heeresamt. H 37/96. CRS, TAG.
11-1. Comments of Field Marshal Rundstedt, Jun 48. MS #B-847. Foreign Studies Br, OCMH.
11-2. Vorlaeufige Erfahren des Generalkommandos XXII A. K. ueber Fuehren beweglicher Verbaende, in OKH, Beiheft la zu Nr. 12/92 g. Kdos., Erfahrungsberichte. H 37/77, (Army Group South). Reports of 3d and 10th Panzer Divs and 20th Mot Inf Div to XIX Corps, in Anlagenheft II to Kriegstagebuch Feldzug in Polen, Heeresgruppe Nord, 1.9.39‹2.10.39) 1-3 Sep. P. 600a. CRS, TAG.
11-3. "Haider Diary," II, p. 5.
11-4. Ltr, Gen Blumentritt to OCMH, 31 Jan 55, p. 21. Author's file.
11-5. Erfahrungsbericht des Geneialkommandos XIX A. K., in OKH Beiheft la zu Nr. li/92 g. Kdos., Erfahrungsberichte. H 37/77. CRS, TAG.
11-6. Kriegstagebuch des Oeneralkommandos XIX A. K. ueber den Feldzug in Polen, 1.9.39‹25.9.39. P-250a. CRS, TAG.
11-7. 57. Inf. Div., la Nr. 61, in OKU, Beiheft la zu Nr. 12/92, g. Kdos., Erfahrungsberichte. H 37/77. CRS, TAG.
11-8. Gen. Kdo. VIII A. K., Abt. la Nr. 66/39 g. K., in OKH, Beiheft la zur Nr., 12/92, g. Kdos., Erfahrungsberichte. H S7/77. CRS, TAG.
11-9. "Bock Diary," p. 44.
11-10. "Der Einsatz der Luftwaffe im polnischen Feldzug," op. cit., pp. 50-51.