The Third Reich: War

  • A. J. Ryder


The German conquest of Poland was accomplished in four weeks, but the decisive blows all fell within a matter of days. Taken by surprise, with their mobilisation incomplete, and faced by an enemy superior in every department of war except courage, the Polish armies were rapidly outmanoeuvred, surrounded and overwhelmed. The Germans struck from three directions: East Prussia in the north, Pomerania and Silesia in the west, and Slovakia in the south. The Polish air force was eliminated during the first forty-eight hours when its machines were destroyed on the ground, and Polish cavalry proved helpless against armoured divisions backed by fast-moving heavy artillery, bombers and dive bombers. The Polish infantry lacked the mobility needed to counter penetration in depth. Poland’s western allies had expected her to hold out through the winter, and they might conceivably have done so had the French, as the Poles expected, attacked the thinly held German line in the west. The Russians were also taken aback by the speed of the German onslaught, and on 17 September the Red Army, in accordance with the secret protocol of 23 August, marched into the eastern Polish provinces. This was the final blow to the Polish hopes of further resistance, and unexpected by the local population, who imagined that the Russians had come to help them against the Germans.


Concentration Camp British Government Weimar Republic German People German Army 
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Copyright information

© A. J. Ryder 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. J. Ryder
    • 1
  1. 1.St David’s University CollegeLampeterUK

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