Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Polish campaign question

Discussion in 'Prelude to War & Poland 1939' started by tali-ihantala, Oct 14, 2010.

  1. tali-ihantala

    tali-ihantala Member

    Oct 27, 2009
    Likes Received:
    There is something I've always wondered, were there any battles fought between the Poles and Russians during the campaign or did the Poles let them roll in unopposed? Any research on the subject greatly appreciated, I haven' been able to find anything
  2. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

    Aug 30, 2010
    Likes Received:
  3. Domen121

    Domen121 Member

    May 7, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Hello everyone!

    There were enough battles to publish a good bunch of thick books about them in Poland after 1989. For example (titles translated):

    - "Polish-Soviet War 1939" by R. Szawlowski - 520 pages;
    - "Kresy In Red. Agression of the USSR against Poland in 1939" by Cz. Grzelak - 506 pages;
    - "Wilno - Grodno - Kodziowce 1939" by Cz. Grzelak - 172 pages (+ maps & illustrations);
    - "Szack - Wytyczno 1939" by Cz. Grzelak - 200 pages (+ illustrations)

    Also for example Belarusian historian Vladimir Beshanov wrote:

    - "The Red Blitzkrieg" - 300 pages (Polish Campaign is on pages 23 - 158)

    Then we have a book (the same title) about Soviet armoured units (about the creation & development and then about their combats in Poland):

    - "The Red Blitzkrieg" by J. Magnuski and M. Kolomijec - 88 pages

    As well as some other books.


    Here I am posting an excerpt from R. Szawlowski's "Polish-Soviet War 1939" on the 3 days long battle of Szack (28 - 30.09.1939):

    In this particular fragment Szawłowski quotes & comments Soviet sources on the battle of Szack (28 - 30.09.1939):


    R. Szawłowski, "Wojna Polsko-Sowiecka 1939" ("Polish-Soviet War 1939"), pages 235 - 237. Chapter VI, sub-chapter 14 ("14. Combats along the Central Section in the light of Soviet information and disinformation"):


    Published Soviet archival documents contain a quite extensive material about the battle fought by 52nd Rifle Division near Szack on 28 / 29 September 1939. This material concerns, among other things, a clearly "shocking" for them fact of Polish forces destroying a Soviet armoured battalion there [75]. Lack of space allows us for only random utilization of this material. According to a report of 52nd Rifle Division, no date, about operations between 27 and 29 September 1939 [76], yet on 27 September Soviet 28th independent engineer battalion, which was ordered to cross the Bug near Wlodawa and build a bridge for river crossing there:

    "carried out a march without infantry cover (...) without means of security and reconnaissance (...) was fired at with rifle and machine gun fire. It lost several wounded (including battalion commander major Kisielov) and started to retreat towards Piszcza, asking for support. On 27 September around 24:00 PM a report from 28th independent engineer battalion with information that the battalion is under enemy fire, suffered casualties and retreats in the direction of Piszcza reached the divisional HQ in Małoryta."

    If it comes to the battle in the region of Szack 28 / 29 September in the same document we read:

    "In Szack in the morning on 28 September a citizen hastened. He reported to the commander of 411st independent tank battalion that in the forest to the south from Szack there is an enemy squadron which wants to lay down its arms [77]. The commander of 411st independent tank battalion, without checking this information, without means of security and reconnaissance, without reporting to the divisional commander, led his battalion in a column. Enemy forces passed the column up to the isthmus between the Lakes Lucimier [Lucemierz] and Krugloje [Czarne] and from short distance opened direct artillery fire. As the result 7 tanks were destroyed. On 28 September at 11:00 AM a short report of the commander of 54th Anti-Tank artillery battalion came to the divisional HQ. The report said about the annihilation of 411st independent tank battalion in the region of Kack, about the attack of large enemy forces and about the transition to defense of the Anti-Tank artillery battalion together with units of 112th rifle regiment and an urgent request to send support."

    Then information about "improvised remedial measures" and communication problems follow, including problems in communication between the divisional Chef of Staff and commander of the division, Colonel Russijanow (or Russinow), who "commanded a group of men" and "found himself in the direct contact with the enemy".

    "Night, lack of communication with divisional commander and wireless with units, contradictory information about the enemy and from time to time panic-stricken reports about hard situation of own units, dispersed in large distances from each other, created a tense situation in the divisional HQ."

    The quoted report mentions occupation (it should mention capturing in combat) Szack by Polish forces, from which the enemy (Poles) carried out:

    "heavy machine gun fire, counterattacked, thrown grenades on our forces. Situation of our units, sent to the region of Szack from different regiments and battalions, not having appropriate communication, reinforced in 80% by reservists, without uniform command and operating in conditions of a night battle, was extremely hard. On 28 September between 23:00 and 24:00 PM divisional commander was seriously wounded. Units received this information at the same time when the enemy started a counterattack and one of enemy battalions broke down near Mielniki and advanced towards ?alma. Those events created an impression of being encircled. Unexperienced units started to retreat and disrupt and partially dispersed themselves in the forests."

    Finally, according to the same Soviet report:

    "The enemy was halted with artillery fire and fire of an ad hoc formed [from remnants of dispersed units] unit and started to withdraw. (...) Along this section battle ended on 29 September at 9:00 AM."

    It is mentioned that "part" of Polish forces crossed the Bug river to the west. And that:

    "Due to exhaustion of units there was no possibility of chasing the enemy. Units of 58th and 112th rifle regiments fighting near Szack, as the result of night battle and bad command by some of commanders, dispersed in the forest and were set in order only on 29 September at 9:00 AM."

    Own casualties are provided by the report as:

    "6 T-26 tanks, tanks T-37, 5 Komsomolec tractors. Seriously wounded divisional commander, Colonel Russijanow. Commander of 411th independent tank battalion died from his wounds, Captain Lieseniuk, secretary of WKP/b/ 208th Howitzer Artillery Regiment, Elder Lieutenant Toronin was killed. Apart from them 4 younger officers, one political officer and around 75 NCOs and men were killed; 184 soldiers were wounded. (...)".

    Own casualties, when it comes to overall numbers rather understated, were "compensated" by overstated to ridicule alleged casualties of the Polish side: 700 Polish soldiers were claimed to be killed (so almost tenfold more than number of killed Soviet soldiers!), Polish wounded are not mentioned at all [78]; allegedly 600 men were captured.

    The same applies to the alleged ratio of own casualties to casualties of Polish forces during combats on 30.09.1939. Here an operational report of the HQ of 5th Army, dated 1 October 1939 6:00 AM, Włodzimierz Wołyński, states:

    "52nd Rifle Division - as the result of combats on 30.09.1939 along the line: Orchów, Zalesię, Szack, Lucimier [Lucemierz] Lake, captured up to 1100 enemy prisoners and 4 officers of the General Staff (...). 524 killed Poles remained on the battlefield."

    A number clearly overstated, even if taking into account Polish Prisoners of War who were murdered there (see pages 384 - 386). About Polish wounded once again not a single mention.

    On the other hand, own casualties on 30.09.1939 are stated as 60 killed and around 200 wounded (as well as 6 damaged tanks, one tankette and 2 Komsomolec tractors). But another report of the HQ of 5th Army from 01.10.1939, 12:00, gives Polish irrecoverable losses as yet 540 killed, at the same time reducing own losses from 60 to 40 killed (so a "corrected" ratio of own casualties in killed to analogous Polish like 1 to 13,5 !!!); and reducing the number of own wounded from 200 to 170, on the other hand adding 46 missing without a trace.

    Further we read some nonsense like this: "remnants of Polish disrupted officer bands are commanded by general Sikorski and general Kleeberg" (sic!).


    And also footnotes to the above text:

    [75] See "WPH", No 1 from 1994, pp. 172, 174, but especially pp. 183-184: "Report about the results of the investigation on the destruction of a Soviet tank battalion by Polish units, September 1939".
    [76] Ut supra, pp. 173-176
    [77] In the cited in the 13th footnote Soviet report there is an information, that it was a Polish trick, involving feigned surrender. In fact nothing like this took place.
    [78] In the cited in the 13th footnote Soviet report there is an unbelievable information, that allegedly Poles evacuated (all of) their wounded from the battlefield.
    [79] See "WPH", No 1 from 1994, p. 176

    Out of those you listed, Grodno was probably the fiercest battle.

    This was caused mainly by the deliberate Polish decision to AVOID combats against the Red Army and to withdraw to Romania & Hungary.

    Let's check the backstage of that Polish decision:


    Soviet ambassador - Sharonov - leaves Poland and goes back to the USSR after ensuring the Polish foreign minister Joseph Beck, that "the attitute of the USSR towards Poland is friendly and the USSR is going to remain neutral".

    Of course, as we know today, Sharonov lied.


    The official note of Vyacheslav Molotov to Polish ambassador Waclav Grzybowski:

    The official response of Polish ambassador Waclav Grzybowski for the note of Vyacheslav Molotov:

    The "General Directive" of marschall Rydz-Smigly from 17.09.1939:

    That's why only some units chose (or were forced to - by attitude of Soviet soldiers) to fight against the Soviets - the other ones were defeated by surprise or negotiated trying to induce the Soviets to let them pass to Romania (and usually negotiations were without success and Soviet forces were capturing those units).

    The first decision of Marschall Rydz-Smigly was to fight firmly against the Soviet Invasion.

    Polish Chief of Staff in September of 1939 - Waclaw Stachiewicz - writes about this:

    But while hours were passing, further and further reports from the new frontline about the tremendous strength and numbers of Soviet invasion forces were arriving at the Polish General Headquarters, especially from the direction of Lwow and Stanislawow. The new idea appeared in the Polish General HQ, that the Soviet invasion completely scratches through all Polish defensive abilities until the start of the French offensive in the West.

    One of Polish staff officers stated:

    Marschall Rydz-Smigly responded:

    Then, after two conferences with members of the Polish government (the first in Kolomyja with participation of Polish Prime Minister Felicjan Sławoj Składkowski and the Polish Foreign Minister Józef Beck, the second in Kuty with participation of all these persons as well as the Polish president prof. Ignacy Mościcki), the decision was taken to withdraw to Romania and marschall Rydz-Smigly issued the whole bunch of detailed orders to all units with which he had got direct contact, as well as announced by the Radio Station of the General HQ of the Polish Army and by intermediary radio stations, his "General Directive" which was already quoted above.

    And here is the list of detailed orders issued by Rydz-Smigly and the General HQ after the Soviet Invasion:


    6:30 a.m.:

    An order for units of the Border Defense Corps (Korpus Ochrony Pogranicza = KOP) Regiment "Czortkow" ordering them to hold their defensive positions along the border and withdraw only if under sharp enemy pressure.

    7:35 a.m.:

    An order for the commander of Border Defense Corps (KOP) Regiment "Czortkow" ordering him to send parliamentarians to Soviet forces with inquiry about the character and purpose of their intervention.

    8:15 a.m.:

    An order for the commander of Army "Karpaty" informing him about the new situation and ordering him to transmit further orders to General Narbut-Luczynski (commander of Garrison of the city of Tarnopol) and General Jacyna-Jatelnicki (commander of Garrison of Mikulince) to put into combat readiness mode all Polish units on their defensive positions along the Seret river and put resistance against the "Bolsheviks" along this line, while all other units under command of these generals should be ordered to retreat towards the Transdniestr area.

    The exact reading of this order was:

    Chef of Staff of General Fabrycy's Army "Karpaty" - Colonel Pstrokonski - about the Soviet invasion:

    Between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.:

    Captain Waclaw Chocianowicz was sent towards the bridges on the Dniestr river in order to establish contact with the Soviets and ask them about the character of their intervention.

    9:35 a.m.:

    An order for the commander of the defense of the Dniestr river bridge in Uscieszko ordering him to barricade the bridge and to prepare it for detonation, which should take place only in case of a massive attack of Soviet armoured units - otherwise the bridge must be defended but not destroyed.

    Around 9:50 a.m.:

    An order for General Jacyna-Jatelnicki, changing the previous order from 8:15 a.m. and ordering him to use all forces which hadn't yet started their withdrawal towards the Transdniestr area to put resistance against Soviet forces in their own areas.

    Around Midday:

    An order (phone call) from Colonel Jaklicz to Captain Chocianowicz ordering him to ensure that the bridge in Uscieszko was going to be detonated if it was going to be necessary.

    0:20 p.m.:

    An order for the Headquarters of Army "Karpaty" confirming previous orders from General Fabrycy received in the evening on 16.09.1939 and an order - or rather confirmation of the previous order - to hold the police, administrative authorities, railway services and postal services where they were (on the spot).

    Between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m.:

    General Narbut-Luczynski and Colonel Stanislaw Pelc were sent to the Headquarters of Army "Karpaty" with verbal order to withdraw the entire army behind the Romanian and Hungarian borders.

    2:00 p.m.:

    Same order was delivered by General Waclaw Stachiewicz to General Paszkiewicz and General Dembinski (commander of Group "Stryj") by phone.

    3:30 p.m.:

    An order for the High Command of Army "Karpaty" ordering them to withdraw the soldiers and the equipment to Romania, perchance to Hungary, however the Group of General Dembinski (Group "Stryj") was ordered to stay on its defensive positions and wait for the arrival of forces under command of General Kazimierz Sosnkowski, establish contact with these forces "for any price", and only then withdraw together to Hungary.

    From the Diary of General Dembinski:

    4:00 p.m.:

    An order for all of Polish Air Force to withdraw to Romania ("fundamentally to Czerniowce airport").

    4:00 p.m.:

    An order for General Skuratowicz (commander of Garrison of the city of Lutsk), General Dab-Biernacki (commander of the Northern Front, consisting of Army "Modlin", Operational Group "Kruszewski" and Cavalry Operational Group "Anders") and General Kleeberg (commander of Independent Operational Group "Polesie") ordering them to withdraw to Romania.

    Order was delivered via air (liaison plane).

    5:00 p.m.:

    Lt.Col. Dudek (commander of Group "Drohobycz") - was informed by General Dembinski (commander of Group "Stryj") about the Soviet Invasion:

    This order had to be repeated by Gen. Dembinski TWO MORE TIMES - because Lt. Col. Dudek COULD NOT BELIEVE in this fact at first.

    6:30 p.m.:

    An order to the Communication Center in Bobrka ordering them to establish communications with General Kazimierz Sosnkowski and to deliver him the order of withdrawing to Hungary as quickly as possible (together with forces of Dembinski).

    7:00 p.m.:

    General Milan-Kamski returned back to Kolomyja from his inspection of defensive lines along the Dniestr river. In the face of new situation (Soviet Invasion) General Waclaw Stachiewicz (the Chief of Staff of the Polish High Command) released him from his previous task (organizing defensive lines along the Dniestr river) and ordered him to withdraw behind the Romanian border.

    General Milan-Kamski wrote about the order of "not fighting against the Soviets" received from Stachiewicz in Kolomyja:

    8:00 p.m.:

    An order for the HQ of Group "Stryj" (delivered by phone) to withdraw all units behind the Hungarian border without waiting for forces of General Kazimierz Sosnkowski. It was a consequence of a personal decision taken by marschall Rydz-Smigly.

    9:30 p.m.:

    An order for Colonel Rudka in Stanislawow to deliver to General Dembinski the order of Marschall Rydz-Smigly, ordering him to carry out destructions in the Petroleum Basin before withdrawing to Hungary as well as to deliver an order of withdrawing to Hungary also to the commander of Polish 10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade, Colonel Stanislaw Maczek.

    10:00 p.m.:

    Confirmation of previous orders from 9:30 p.m. for Colonel Rudka in Stanislawow.

    11:00 p.m.:

    Ordering a liason pilot to deliver an order informing about the Soviet invasion and ordering him to withdraw to Hungary to General Kazimierz Sosnkowski (pilot took off on 18.09.1939 in the morning).

    9:30 p.m.:

    The "General Directive" of marschall Rydz-Smigly was enciphered and on 9:40 p.m. it was received by Lt.Col. Mieczyslaw Zaleski, who then transmitted it by radio stations.

    At 10:00 p.m. the "General Directive" (which was already quoted above) was transmitted via radio:



    In the night from 17.09.1939 to 18.09.1939 and in the morning on 18.09.1939 the Polish Government and the Polish High Command (with Marschall Rydz-Smigly) crossed the Romanian Border. This was one day after the Soviet Invasion and only due to and because of the Soviet Invasion.

    The Polish withdrawal to Romania and Hungary was not planned before the Soviet Invasion.


    Two more interesting quotes:

    Soviet ambassador in London, Ivan Mayski, wrote in his diary on 17.09.1939:

    Also Soviet ambassador in Paris, Jakov Suric, sent such a message to Moscow on 19.09.1939:

    Pelekys likes this.
  4. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

    Aug 23, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Good god, how long did it take you to write all that?
  5. Domen121

    Domen121 Member

    May 7, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Not so long - gathering this info from different sources wasn't problematic. Translating it accurately took more time. :p

    But I hope I explained these several aspects of WW2 clearly and that it was a good read.
    Sloniksp likes this.
  6. Domen121

    Domen121 Member

    May 7, 2011
    Likes Received:
    "Leaders of western powers allied with Poland wanted first of all to prevent the even closer German-Soviet alliance. In the name of this goal they sacrificed - not for the first and not for the last time in modern history - the explicit interest of Poland. Thus ambassadors of Great Britain Howard Kennard and France Leon Noel exerted pressure on Polish government on 17 September 1939 in order to prevent it from formally declaring war on the Soviet Union. (...) In London and Paris it was still believed, that sooner or later the strategic interests of Germany and Soviet Russia would start to go in different directions, that first signs of future antagonism between both totalitarian powers would appear. In such conditions - it was thought - the Nazi-Soviet alliance would be possible to tear with use of elastic policy and good recognition of causes of future crisis of Berlin-Moscow relations. Due to this tactics of western powers, chosen after careful consultations and in full agreement on governmental level, Polish diplomacy could not gain more from its allies than irrelevant condemnation of Soviet aggression. Even those, purely verbal, declarations were edited in restrained and quite ambiguous way."


    "Poland of 1939 in the face of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact" by M. Kornat, Warsaw 2002.
  7. CPL Punishment

    CPL Punishment Member

    Aug 12, 2009
    Likes Received:
    The Polish contribution to the Western Allies is not inconsiderable. Apart from the highly distinguished actions of Polish pilots serving with the RAF, Polish sailors and warships serving with the RN, there were at least five Polish division or brigade-sized formations serving with the British Army. That's a large number of men.

    What has always puzzled me is what routes did Polish fighting men take to escape the Germans and/or Russians? South into Hungary and Romania seems to be the logical exit. However, these countries were neutral, at least nominally so, in September 1939 (though both countries had substantial home-grown fascist movements of their own which would eventually create alliances with Germany). As neutral powers was it not their obligation to intern Polish soldiers who crossed their borders? It would seem to violate the Geneva Conventions to allow them to pass to the territory of another belligerent power such as France or Great Britain.

    Can some one help me understand this?
  8. Domen121

    Domen121 Member

    May 7, 2011
    Likes Received:

    Yes - the Poles were interned, but vast majority of them managed to escape or get out in a different way from this internment!

    And remember that at first the Polish army was formed in France and participated (several divisions & brigades) in the battle of France in 1940.

    After the battle of France once again many Polish troops were interned (for example in Switzerland) and once again had to "break through" - to Britain this time.

    But those who were interned in Switzerland (one division - ca. 13,000 men) did not manage to get out until as late as 1944.

    Another part of Polish soldiers who later fought alongside Britain, were POWs captured by Soviets in 1939 who later escaped from the USSR (the so called Anders Army):

    Anders Army - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I will write more about this (the Polish evacuation via Romania/Hungary/Lithuania, further history of these soldiers, etc.) later!
  9. kowalskil

    kowalskil Member

    Feb 15, 2011
    Likes Received:
    No serious battles. Russians invaded Poland about three weeks after Germans. By that time Polish army was essentially destroyed or dispersed.

    Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia)
  10. Domen121

    Domen121 Member

    May 7, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Not really. By the time of the Soviet invasion situation was as follows:

    I am currently very busy with more important things so I don't have time for details.

    But here is a very short overwiev of the situation on 17.09.1939:

    Polish forces in Northern and West-Central Poland:

    Forces of the Land Coastal Defence were still resisting near Gdynia, as well as the garrison of Hela. Armies "Poznan" and "Pomorze" were fighting at the Bzura attempting to break through to Warsaw via Kampinos Forest. Warsaw and fortress Modlin were defended by strong forces organized into Army "Warszawa".

    Polish forces in Central and Southern Poland:

    Considerable forces of the newly-organized Northern Front (which included Army "Lublin", Army "Modlin" and Operational Group of general Anders reinforced by reorganized and strengthened by replacements remnants of Army "Prusy" which crossed the Vistula river) were gathered in the area between Chelm Lubelski, Wlodawa, Kock and Lublin and were preparing to march to the south-east. Army "Cracow" - which had received replacements and reinforcements (including Warsaw Motorized-Armoured Brigade) during the last days - was in the area to the south of forces of the Northern Front and was just preparing to attack German units along the line Tomaszow Lubelski - Narol in order to break through towards Lwow. Strength of the garrison of Lwow was constantly increasing thanks to new units arriving by railway transports from North-Eastern Poland. Germans were stuck near the city since 12 September and didn't even manage to encircle it. Just north of Lwow there were forces of 10th Motorized Brigade of colonel Maczek and Group "Zolkiew". From the west 3 infantry divisions (Operational Group "South") were approaching Lwow in order to break through to the city. Remnants of Army "Prusy" which didn't manage to break through to the eastern side of the Vistula river, were still resisting in the area of Kozienice. One infantry division (13th) was near Maciejowice.

    Eastern, South-Eastern and North-Eastern Poland:

    In North-Eastern Poland there were garrisons of cities of Grodno, Wilno and Baranowicze as well as improvised Cavalry Brigade "Wolkowysk". The area of Polesie (Pripet Marshes) - city of Kobryn included - was defended by Independent Operational Group "Polesie" under command of gen. Kleeberg. Kleeberg's forces were later reinforced by Cavalry Brigades "Suwalska" and "Podlaska" which were in the area of Hajnowka-Bialowieza when the Soviets invaded. The garrison of fortress Brest-Litovsk (Group "Brzesc") was still resisting against XIX Corps of Guderian and abandoned the fortress only on the following day, withdrawing towards Bielsko-Biala. Further to the south were garrisons of several old Russian towns-fortresses including Kowel, Luck, Dubno, Rowne, Brody and Tarnopol. Also near the town of Wlodzimierz Wolynski Group "Wlodzimierz" was formed, which numbered 10 infantry battalions with strong artillery support. There were also smaller units, such as Group "Szack" near Szack. Finally in the area of Romanian Bridgehead there was Army "Karpaty" and all Polish reserves from Northern and Western Poland were enroute to that area via railway transports or were already there. Those reserves included also so called Spare Centres (Ośrodki Zapasowe) - sources of replacements for combat units. There the Polish High Command wanted to organize the main rampart of defence and planned to resist until the Spring of 1940. Spare Centres were planned to be utilized to form new combat units or provide replacements for combat units which were enroute to Romanian Bridgehead after arriving there. Several units were enroute to the Romanian Bridgehead via railway in the area between Sarny and Rowne when the Soviets invaded. This area - Sarny-Rowne - was also fortified and fortifications were manned by units of the Border Defense Corps, however most of these units were preparing to be transported to the south. Supply transports from Western Allies were already enroute to Poland via sea and then were expected to arrive via Romania.

    The Polish-Soviet border:

    The Polish-Soviet border was protected by units of the Border Defense Corps, including a very over-extended line of guard-houses.
  11. Domen121

    Domen121 Member

    May 7, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Prospects for the Poles:

    Land Coastal Defence had not much prospects. But would resist for several more days. Hela would resist longer.

    Army "Poznan" and "Pomorze" would extract as many forces as possible to Warsaw-Modlin area. Simultaneous counterattacks from Warsaw and Modlin to support "Poznan" and "Pomorze" in their breakthrough operation were planned. Later both Warsaw and Modlin would continue resistance as long as possible to keep German forces busy.

    Army "Cracow" had real chance of breaking through to the area of Lwow. This chance would be even greater provided that it was supported by units of the Northern Front. Army "Cracow" was being chased by German units from the west and its march to the south-east (towards Lwow) was being blocked by German fast units. But in the north it had free connection to units of the Northern Front, which would be able to support it if actions of both were coordinated.

    Operational Group "South" would also be able to break through to Lwow with at least part of its forces thanks to coordination with 10th Motorized Brigade and Group "Zolkiew", which were counterattacking German forces north of Lwow.

    Forces of the Northern Front, Army "Cracow" and Operational Group "South" would reinforce the Polish defence in south-eastern Poland, including the area of Lwow and the Romanian Bridgehead. The area of Polesie would possibly become another rampart of defense. Garrisons in Volhynia and in the North-East would resist too.

    The city of Lwow had enough food, ammo and forces to resist for long time (at least 3 more weeks), covering further organization of defence in the Romanian Bridgehead as well as the withdrawal of Polish units to the Bridgehead. Long resistance would be possible only with supplies from Great Britain and France. But even without those supplies Poland could continue organized resistance most probably for another month if not the Soviet Invasion.


    That was what could have happened if not the Soviet invasion.

    And now let's see what happened after the Soviet Invasion:

    Land Coastal Defence surrendered on 19 September. The garrison of Hela surrendered on 2 October because its commander knew about the capitulation of Warsaw and judged further defence of Hela Peninsula as futile.

    Part of Armies "Poznan" and "Pomorze" broke through Kampinos to Warsaw. More could break through if better coordination of counterattacks from Warsaw and actions of "Poznan" and "Pomorze" took place.

    Warsaw surrendered on 28 September not because it had no resources to continue defence but because civilian casualties were huge and since the rest of the country was occupied, further defence was futile. Fortress Modlin surrendered only one day after Warsaw and it did so just because Warsaw decided to surrendered.

    Army "Cracow" conducted its attack against Tomaszow and Narol. Polish attack on Tomaszow on 18 - 20 September 1939 saw the largest concentration of Polish armour in that campaign (nearly 100 tanks and armoured cars). The attack initially succeeded but was finally repulsed because 2. Pz.Div. with nearly all of its tanks came with relief for 4. Lei.Div. and counterattacked. This would not be possible if not the fact that orders for 2. Pz.Div. had been changed shortly after the Soviet Invasion and it was ordered to abandon its previous task and withdraw to the area near Tomaszow. So the Soviets are to be blamed for the fact that Polish attack on Tomaszow failed.

    Moreover, operations of Army "Cracow" and Northern Front had not been coordinated just because the Polish High Command retreated to Romania during the night from 17 September to 18 September.

    As the result Army "Cracow" - without any knowledge that units of the Northern Front were just 20 - 25 km (not even one day march) from its positions - decided to surrender on 20 September, after receiving messages (via German propaganda radio broadcast) about the Soviet Invasion and about the escape of Polish High Command.

    The Northern Front continued to resist until 26 September 1939 (some units even longer - even until 1 October), fighting against both Germans & Soviets (first combats between the Northern Front and the Soviets were on 23 September).

    General Anders with his group tried to get to Hungary but was defeated by Soviet forces in last days of September.

    Operational Group "South" did not manage to break through to Lwow (only a few infantry battalions out of three divisions managed to do it) because Polish 10th Motorized Brigade - which captured German positions north of Lwow on 16 - 17 September (Zboiska and neighbouring hills) - was ordered to withdraw to Hungary soon after the Soviet Invasion. As the result Germans recaptured positions abandoned by 10th Motorized Brigade and on the next day when Polish soldiers tried to march across those positions to Lwow - they were not able to break through.

    Remnants group "South" fought until 22 September when they surrendered to the Soviets near Laszki Murowane.

    The garrison of Lwow surrendered to the Soviets on 22 September without any resistance. The commander decided to surrender after the Soviets promised to release all soldiers of the garrison and allow them to go back homes.

    Unfortunately the Soviets broke this agreement and did not release all prisoners, especially officers.

    Forces gathered in the Romanian Bridgehead (including Army "Karpaty") were partially evacuated to Romania and Hungary and partially captured by the Red Army in period 17 - 21 September 1939. Many of those soldiers who escaped to Romania & Hungary, later escaped to France and there formed the Polish Army in the West which fought in many battles of WW2.

    Garrisons of Grodno and Wilno put up resistance to the Soviets and then retreated to Lithuania. Improvised Cavalry Brigade "Wolkowysk" fought in several combats against the Soviets and then retreated to Lithuania.

    Garrisons in Volhynia mostly surrendered without any considerable resistance. Some other units were demobilized and soldiers were allowed to take off their uniforms and go home (for example Group "Wlodzimierz").

    Independent Operational Group "Polesie" defended Kobryn against the Germans when the Soviets invaded. When Soviet forces pushed back Polish border protection units, general Kleeberg (who was ordered by Polish High Command not to provoke fights against the Soviets - like most of Polish units) decided to withdraw from Polesie avoiding Soviet attacks and marching west, towards Warsaw. The Soviets however continued to chase him despite the fact that he tried to avoid combats against them and thus in late September several victorious battles and skirmishes against Soviet units were fought by his Operational Group (for example combats near Milanow and Parczew). In early October his Independent Operational Group fought the last battle of the campaign near Kock (2 - 6 October 1939).

    Large part of units of the Border Defense Corps after being pushed back from the borderland by overwhelming Soviet odds, were gathered by general Orlik Ruckemann and formed the so called "Border Defense Corps Group" which numbered at least 7,000 soldiers. This group fought several battles against the Soviets - including Szack and Wytyczno (1 October). Later remnants of this group joined IOP "Polesie" of general Kleeberg.

    Also Group of Zieleniewski continued combats until October and surrendered to the Soviets. It consisted of elements of the former Northern Front and some soldiers from garrisons in Volhynia who didn't surrender to the Soviets before.
  12. Domen121

    Domen121 Member

    May 7, 2011
    Likes Received:
  13. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

    Aug 10, 2011
    Likes Received:
    The Soviet invasion was a continuation of the Polish-SOviet war in the twenties. The Poles invaded Russia and were defeated, The Soviets counterattacked and reached the gates of Warsaw. A argument between Tuhkachevsky and Stalin resulted in a gap in the SOviet south flank that the Poles exploited and drove the Soviets back. A border was drawn by Lord Curzon that both sides reluctantly agreed to, but not accepted.
  14. Domen121

    Domen121 Member

    May 7, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Before that - in 1918 and 1919 - the Soviets invaded Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland and were defeated:

    Soviet westward offensive of 1918

    Then - as you wrote - Poles with support of their allies, counterattacked (so called Kiev Offensive) and were finally halted soon after capturing Kiev.

    Then - as you wrote - in mid-1920 the Soviets counterattacked but were finally halted and then defeated by Polish counterattack at the gates of Warsaw.

    The final blow to the Soviet army was inflicted in the victorious for the Poles battle of Niemen:


    Nope. The Polish-Soviet border was drawn in the Treaty of Riga of 1921:


    It was much different than the line drawn by Curzon. Poland gained a lot more territory in the East than according to the line drawn by Curzon.

    Modern (post-1945 / post-1947) Polish border is much closer to the Curzon Line.

    The only difference is that Poland doesn't have Lwow (Lviv), while Lord Curzon wanted Lwow to be Polish:


    Yeah - this is a good point.

    Probably we can call it a continuation of the Polish-Soviet war, at least from the perspective of Stalinist Russia.

    For Joseph Stalin it might have been such a contination. Just like for Adolf Hitler WW2 might have been a continuation of WW1.

    Soviets wanted revenge on Poles for the Polish-Soviet war even if it meant collaboration with Nazi Germany.

    Besides - here I posted links to some documentaries on this issue:


    From the 1st documentary Stalin appears a cunning and ruthless politician who had a plan which finally lead to spreading Communism over half of Europe in 1945.

    The 2nd documentary (the BBC one) confirms this but also shows his moments of weakness and helplessness when unexpected Fall "Barbarossa" started.
  15. l4d2bob

    l4d2bob Member

    Aug 17, 2011
    Likes Received:
    They didn't have much time to save themselves against the Russians.
  16. leccy1

    leccy1 Member

    Aug 10, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Ok its a quick bit from Wikipedia but it does give a little insight into the Russian and Polish feelings

    When the communists took power in the Soviet Union they embarked on several years of pacifying former Tsarist Russian lands that had declared independence. Poland being one of them hence the continual bad blood between them.
  17. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

    Jun 6, 2006
    Likes Received:
    I never realized the Russians took some extra territories east of Bialystok and the Lwow( Lemberg) territory, as opposed to the original 1919 Curzon border which they adapted in their favour. I can understand the strategic importance of annexing Lemberg but what was the goal in the Bialystok district?
  18. Domen121

    Domen121 Member

    May 7, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Maybe easier land connection to Kaliningrad Oblast ??? If you write about 1945 of course.

Share This Page