On This Day In History: Germany Invades Poland – On Sep 1, 1939

On Sep 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland on land and from the air.

World War II had begun. The German invasion of Poland was a primer on how Hitler intended to wage war–what would become the “blitzkrieg” strategy.

At 4:45 a.m., some 1.5 million German troops invade Poland all along its 1,750-mile border with German-controlled territory. Simultaneously, the German Luftwaffe bombed Polish airfields, and German warships and U-boats attacked Polish naval forces in the Baltic Sea.

Nazi leader Adolf Hitler claimed the massive invasion was a defensive action, but Britain and France were not convinced. On September 3, they declared war on Germany, initiating World War II.

The Polish army was defeated within weeks of the invasion. From East Prussia and Germany in the north and Silesia and Slovakia in the south, German units, with more than 2,000 tanks and over 1,000 planes, broke through Polish defenses along the border and advanced on Warsaw in a massive encirclement attack.

Britain and France, standing by their guarantee of Poland’s border, had declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939.

The Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland on September 17, 1939. The demarcation line for the partition of German- and Soviet-occupied Poland was along the Bug River.

After heavy shelling and bombing, Warsaw surrendered to the Germans on September 27, 1939.

In October 1939, Germany directly annexed those former Polish territories along German’s eastern border: West Prussia, Poznan, Upper Silesia, and the former Free City of Danzig.

The remainder of German-occupied Poland (including the cities of Warsaw, Krakow, Radom, and Lublin) was organized as the so-called Generalgouvernement (General Government) under a civilian governor general, the Nazi party lawyer Hans Frank.

Nazi Germany occupied the remainder of Poland when invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.

Poland remained under German occupation until January 1945.

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