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The German Invasion of Poland

The German Invasion of Poland

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The German Invasion of Poland

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  1. The German Invasion of Poland

  2. The Road to War • Before 1939, Hitler could achieve goals without war • April 3, 1939- Hitler issues directive for attack on Poland • Called Case White

  3. The Road To War • Hitler plans a fake attack to start the war • “I shall give a propagandist reason for starting the war, no matter whether it is plausible or not. The victor will not be asked, later on, whether he told the truth or not. In … a war, it is not the Right that matters, but Victory.”

  4. The Road To War • Hitler wanted Germany to appear as an innocent victim of Polish aggression • Took a prisoner from a concentration camp, dressed him in a Polish uniform, taken to town of Gleiwitz, and shot on Aug. 31, 1939 by the Gestapo in a bizarre faked “Polish attack” on the local radio station.

  5. The Polish Invasion • Sept. 1, 1939- Hitler invades Poland • Responds to the attack by regular Polish troops on the Gleiwitz transmitter • Without a declaration of war • 56 German divisions all across 1,250 mile frontier • spread Polish forces very thin • Was told to withdraw by Sept. 3 or face war • Sept. 3, 11:15 a.m. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announces on national radio they were at war with Germany

  6. The Blitzkrieg

  7. The Blitzkrieg • Germans introduced something new in the history of warfare- the blitzkrieg • Lightning war • Based on two key weapons • Tank and airplane • German Luftwaffe (air force) destroyed Polish air force while most of it is on the ground

  8. The Blitzkrieg • Luftwaffe bombed bridges, roads, railways, and radio stations, and concentrated Polish troops

  9. Once Polish Air Force annihilated, German tanks, called Panzer units, were to roll in Tanks destroyed: roads, railways, bridges, tunnels, telegraph stations, and airfields The Blitzkrieg

  10. The Blitzkrieg • Poles try to stop Nazi panzers with their Calvary • Marks the end of the era of mounted Calvary

  11. After the tanks were armored cars and motorcycle troops The Blitzkrieg

  12. The Blitzkrieg • Finally foot soldiers or infantry sent in • Watch historical footage of the invasion of Poland.

  13. Germans also unleash calculated terror on civilian population Use stuka dive bombers Drove terrified civilians out into the roads Caused mass confusion Hear personal stories of the invasion of Poland The Blitzkrieg

  14. The Blitzkrieg • Three SS Death’s Head regiments followed the infantry advance to conduct “police and security” measures behind the German lines • Whole villages burned to the ground • Rules of War ignored by Germany

  15. The Allies • France was thought to possess the most powerful army in Europe • Pull back behind their own defensive position, the Maginot Line • England only had a few divisions of men to spare • Allies could not come to Poland’s aid fast enough

  16. Poland’s Defeat • Sept. 16, 1939- Warsaw was surrounded • Sept. 17, 1939- Soviet forces invade from East • Sept. 28, 1939- Germany and U.S.S.R agree to divide Poland into spheres of influence • Oct. 5, 1939- direct Polish resistance comes to an end

  17. Poland’s Defeat • It was not lack of courage, but massively superior German power, that led to the defeat of Poland

  18. Poland’s Defeat • Remained under German occupation until January, 1945

  19. The Defeat of Poland • In Soviet Union, 1.5 million Poles were transported to labor camps • Captured Polish officers shot at secret forest sites • Katyn forest

  20. The Defeat of Poland • Germans herded Polish Jews into ghettos • Were starved and cruelly offered hopes of survival • Most were shot or gassed • 2,000 concentration camps in Poland

  21. Reactions of Britain and France • Shock at the fall of Warsaw • Deep sympathy with the fate of the Poles • Amazement at speed of German advance • Anger at the Soviets, who one month earlier had been independent, at their part in the partition of Poland • Shame for not having helped

  22. Reactions of Britain and France • Fear that Germany may turn “lightening war” on the West