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How long was Case White expected to last by Germans?

Discussion in 'Prelude to War & Poland 1939' started by Domen121, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. Domen121

    Domen121 Member

    May 7, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Does anyone know how long was the Polish Campaign expected to last by Germans before they actually invaded?

    I don't know about existence of any official report which mentions how long the Case White was expected to last.

    I only know about some "semi-official" statements (of Halder and Hitler, for example), which say something about 3 or "if possible even 2" weeks.

    However, those "semi-official" statements could also be "semi-propaganda", used to raise spirits & self-confidence of German commanders.

    Fall Weiss itself doesn't contain any exact "time schedule" of planned operations, as far as I know.

    Initially Germans planned to encircle, cut off and destroy Polish army in the area west of rivers Vistula-San. This plan could not be implemented with full success in reality, due to higher than expected speed of Polish retreat and due to "interruptions" such as Polish Bzura counterattack. That's why Germans decided to extend the pincers of encirclement further eastwards. This 2nd encirclement was also not yet fully accomplished until the Soviet Invasion.

    After the Soviet Invasion, Germans stopped execution of that changed version of Fall Weiss and limited themselves only to completing operations in Western and Central Poland. In Eastern Poland, on the other hand, few days after the Soviet Invasion they started to retreat behind the demarcation line (in places where they actually managed to cross it - because in some other places they didn't even get to it). Yet on 18 September they changed some of their previous plans regarding the conquest of Eastern Poland (which was apparently a "Plan B" - designed hastily in mid-September due to the fact that Soviets were constantly delaying their invasion), but general retreat behind the demarcation line started few days later. That retreat was interrupted in several places by Polish units which - after the Soviet invasion - were ordered to break through to Romania/Hungary & were trying to do so before the Soviet arrival (particularly the German 14th Army was forced to fight some very hard battles in the 2nd half of September).

    Considering that Germans planned to narrow down military operations in Poland to a smaller area than area on which they were conducted in reality, they probably didn't expect the Polish campaign to last for a longer time - even if they anticipated a slower speed of operations / speed of advance, than they achieved in reality.

    Another question is how the signature of the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement changed German temporal expectations regarding the campaign. AFAIK Germans assumed that Soviet invasion would begin shortly after their own.

    In reality 16 days had to pass from the start of the German invasion until the start of the Soviet attack.

    During that time Germans numerous times pushed their "allies" to finally attack Poland. With no visible results (despite numerous promises to German ambassador in Moscow Schulenburg, Molotov was constantly delaying the planned date of the invasion). Finally around 14 - 16 September Germans lost much of their confidence in Soviet reliability, and started to seriously consider the situation they faced - that is, the probable necessity of conquering all of Poland on their own.

    Luckily for them, the Soviet invasion finally did begin.

    Had the Soviets invaded in first days of September, Poland would have probably collapsed a lot faster.

    To summ up - not everyhing went according to the German plan. Apart from the partial failure of "small pincers" plan (limited to areas west of Vistula-San), another operational "setback" for the Germans was the fact that German Air Reconnaissance somehow failed to detect positions of Army "Poznan" of gen. Kutrzeba for several days. This army suddenly "disappeared" from German ordnance maps after the first few days - and did not appear on them until the overextended wing of 8. Army had been suddenly attacked by "strong, unspecified enemy" at the Bzura, on 9 September 1939. One day before the Polish Bzura "offensive turn", German High Command anticipated, that Army "Poznan" had already withdrawn to the eastern bank of the Vistula across Kampinos and Warsaw. But soon that wrong German anticipation was to be verified by reality in a quite painful & problematic way.

    That operational surprise could be achieved by Poles thanks to the fact that Army "Poznan" marched only at nights, while at days it was hiding in forests, etc.. But there was also some neglect from the German side - if only they made more efforts, they certainly would be able to localize Army "Poznan" before it "localized itself".

    Also the fact that Germans used to overestimate their initial successes in the campaign, later did not help them (maybe even harmed them). I am talking for example about the German assessment, that practically entire Army "Pomorze" had been destroyed in the Polish Corridor in the first days of September. Combats against retreating Polish units fought by II. and III. Army Corps of 4. Army during their advance towards Warsaw along both banks of the Vistula river, had been considered by OKH / OKW as combats against just some remnants of allegedly destroyed Army "Pomorze". In reality, Army "Pomorze" lost ca. 25% of its strength in the Corridor, and later Germans had to confront this "non-existant army" - as they thought - once again, in the battle of Bzura, in which part of its forces successfully (in the 1st phase of the battle) protected the rear area of Army "Poznan" against 4. Army and another part supported counteroffensive actions of Army "Poznan" against 8. and 10. Armies.

    Another issue is the siege of Warsaw - did Germans even anticipate it?

    I'm not sure if Germans expected Warsaw to put up quite a long resistance or even to be defended.

    It is known that - according to some German sources - when Germans were approaching the suburbs of Warsaw at the turn of the first and the second week of September, they considered Warsaw as an "open city". It is hard to explain why they considered Warsaw as such, because Poles had never declared Warsaw to be an "open city".

    Maybe the entire story of Germans allegedly thinking that Warsaw had been announced an "open city" was invented only later, to justify the failure of an overconfident German attempt of seizing Warsaw by hasty attack.

    On the other hand - it is true that defence of Warsaw had been organized "ad hoc" during just several days preceeding the German approach to the city. Had the Germans approached and attacked Warsaw even a few days earlier than in reality, it is very possible that they would have been able to capture the city by hasty attack.

    So - what do you guys think - was Fall Weiss expected to last longer, shorter or for similar time as it lasted in reality?

    How did the agreement with the Soviets (= expected Soviet help in defeating Poland) influence German estimations of time required to conquer Poland?

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