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Poland, 1939

Discussion in 'Prelude to War & Poland 1939' started by -, Sep 25, 2007.

  1. Guest

    Despite the term blitzkrieg being coined during the Invasion of Poland of 1939, historians generally hold that German operations during it were more consistent with more traditional methods. The Wehrmacht's strategy was more inline with Vernichtungsgedanken, or a focus on envelopment to create pockets in broad-front annihilation. Panzer forces were deployed among the three German concentrations without strong emphasis on independent use, being used to create or destroy close pockets of Polish forces and seize operational-depth terrain in support of the largely un-motorized infantry which followed. The Luftwaffe gained air superiority by a combination of superior technology and numbers.

    The understanding of operations in Poland has shifted considerably since the Second World War. Many early postwar histories incorrectly attribute German victory to “enormous development in military technique which occurred between 1918 and 1940”, incorrectly citing that “Germany, who translated (British inter-war) theories into action...called the result Blitzkrieg.” More recent histories identify German operations in Poland as relatively cautious and traditional. Matthew Cooper wrote that

    “...(t)hroughout [the Polish Campaign], the employment of the mechanized units revealed the idea that they were intended solely to ease the advance and to support the activities of the infantry....Thus, any strategic exploitation of the armored idea was still-born. The paralysis of command and the breakdown of morale were not made the ultimate aim of the ... German ground and air forces, and were only incidental by-products of the traditional maneuvers of rapid encirclement and of the supporting activities of the flying artillery of the Luftwaffe, both of which had has their purpose the physical destruction of the enemy troops. Such was the Vernichtungsgedanke of the Polish campaign.”

    He went on to say that the use of tanks “left much to be desired...Fear of enemy action against the flanks of the advance, fear which was to prove so disastrous to German prospects in the west in 1940 and in the Soviet Union in 1941, was present from the beginning of the war.”[17] John Ellis further asserted that “...there is considerable justice in Matthew Cooper's assertion that the panzer divisions were not given the kind of strategic mission that was to characterize authentic armored blitzkrieg, and were almost always closely subordinated to the various mass infantry armies.”

    In fact, “Whilst Western accounts of the September campaign have stressed the shock value of the panzers and Stuka attacks, they have tended to underestimate the punishing effect of German artillery on Polish units. Mobile and available in significant quantity, artillery shattered as many units as any other branch of the Wehrmacht.”
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    With a reported total of no fewer than 19 of its fighters destroyed or written off, Hauptmann Mettig´s I./JG 21 had suffered by far the highest casualty rate of all the nine Bf 109-equipped Gruppen actively engaged against the Poles. The unit had single-handedly contributed close on 30% of the overall total of 67 Bf 109s lost during the campaign.

    From Jagdgeschwader 54 "Grunherz" by John Weal
     
  3. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The white cross in German tanks was removed after the Polish campaign as it made a good aiming point for the Polish AT weapons.

    [​IMG]
     

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