The invasion of Poland took place on September 1,1939. This invasion marked a change in history for the whole world. It started World War II. There were many reasons for the start of the war, and one it started the world would never be the same. Cities and people were destroyed. Unimaginable things took place in Poland during this time, things that will never be forgotten. The invasion lead to a great amount of bloodshed, but Hitler needed to be stopped and if he wasn’t there would have been even more innocent people murdered. In the early 1900’s Germany was part of the axis countries.
Poland was in a decent state of affairs. The two countries had some minor disagreements, yet they lived in a nonviolent manner. In 1925 there was a peace treaty signed by the two countries called the Locarno Treaty. They signed another non-aggression treaty in the year 1934. Hitler even early in the year 1939 talked about how Germany and Poland could work together in peace and harmony to make Europe a better place. Yet even in this early time there were people being greatly discriminated against in Germany due to Nazi influence. Before the war there were many different people living in the boundaries of Poland.
There were 750,000 Germans living in Poland prior to 1939. Natural Poles discriminated against the German’s living in Poland. The Poles made it hard for them to get job and pushed them away from elections, they received little help from the government. It is easy for people to discriminate against people who are different from you. During this time many immigrants everywhere in the world were receiving harsh and sometimes violent treatment. In the year 1919 there were 2 million Jews living in Poland. By the year 1939 there were at least 3 million Jews in Poland. The Jews made up one third of the people n Poland’s big cities.
The Jews worked as shop owners and merchants. They competed with peasants in their lines of work. Economically the peasants ussally came out on top in the competition over the Jews. All the competition between the peasants and the Jews caused tension and friction, which brought on an anti-Semitic attitude in Poland. The Jews in Poland were hit hard by an economical depression. Yet the Jews had a great attitude, and they wanted to better themselves. There were no Jewish schools subsidized by the Polish government. But the Jews worked hard to educate their children and enroll them in some ind of activity to better their minds.
The government started to respect the hard working attitude that the Jews had. So the Jews started receiving some help or favors from the government, and they began to better their role in the Polish society. Many Jews started to play major role in the industrialization of Poland. As the idea of Nazism became more popular in Germany it started to make an impression on the people in Poland. They were incited by the acts of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany. So the in the year 1936 began to act in violence toward the Jews. At this time anti-Semitism in Poland was ore popular now than ever.
There wasn’t really state sponsored violence but in 1936 and 1937 Polish peasants boycotted Jewish traders. In Germany the Nazi party ruled and Hitler was the leader. In the year 1938 Hitler began to spread out his Nazi territory. The Germans invaded areas such as Czechoslovakia, Bohemia, Monrovia, and Austria. These advances began to worry the Poles because they new that Hitler’s army was coming towards Poland. Then Hitler moved into Danzig. Danzig was a remote Baltic Port at the Northern tip of the Polish Corridor, guaranteed by the league of Nation with various rights reserved to the Polish government. It was inhabited by mostly Germans.
After the invasion of Danzig the government of England, France and Poland were faced with an important question. The question wether Danzig was worth dying for. The countries of Europe knew that they would have to stop Hitler soon. Yet they wondered weither they should act now or weither they should wait. Hitler met with Beck a Polish official, Hitler told Beck that “sooner or later Danzig would have to return to the riech”1. On March 31, 1939 France and Great Britain guaranteed Poland support incase of an invasion or even a threat by Hitler. This uarantee was a public pledge and a warning to Hitler that he needed to stop taking land. A resort to force would be met by force”2. The simple warning made toward the Nazi’s was the recipient of world wide publicity. This angered Hitler greatly, because he felt as if he had suffered public humiliation. Hitler began to order his military to immediately prepare for a campaign against Poland. This simple warning aggravated the relationship between the two countries greatly. When Beck talked to Hitler he got the last word in on Hitler and this made him angry, so a meeting was arranged with a Foreign Office Professor. The Foreign Office Professors name was Carl Burkhardt he was the League High Commissioner in Danzig.
Burkhardt sent a letter to Poland discussing the meeting with Hitler. The letter said ” Herr Hitler looked… much older and whiter. He gave the impression of fear, and seemed nervous, pathetic, and almost shaken at times. Hitler’s rhetoric and views however, came across as clear as ever. He was furious at the press accusations that he had lost the battle of nerves and that his bluff had been called by the courageous Poles. If the slights incident happens I shall crush the Poles without warning in uch a way that no trace of Poland will be found afterwards.
If I have to wage war I would rather do it today than tommorow”3. The tension was getting greater and the Poles new that it was only a short time till the German invasion begins. Both sides began to somewhat prepare. On August 23 the Nazi’s made a pact with the USSR. The USSR agreed to back and support the Nazi’s in their invasion. Hitler also contacted Mussolini and told him that there might be a German Polish conflict. Mussolini gave Hitler his support, yet told him that he could not help because he had neither the military supplies nor the raw material or an Anglo-French attack.
Disputes over Danzig continued into August between the Poles who only questioned the German governmental involvement there. Hitler claimed that the inhabitants had stopped practicing and were ignoring Polish customs. Germany greatly favored war, and Hitler was looking to go to war with Poland for several reasons. The main reason was the Danzig problem and it’s reprocutions. Yet this reasons was not fuel enough for war with Poland so the Nazi’s needed another good reason. So the Nazis reported that their border guards found Polish soldiers in German territory, and they shot and killed them.
This statement suggested that the Polish made the first step towards war. So for these two main reason the Germans on September 1, 1939 invaded Poland. At this point both Germany and Poland had battle plans and both nations wanted to stick to their plans as best they could. The Polish battle plan was to slow down the pace of the attacks. They wanted to linger each aspect of the war. They wanted the war to last as long as possible. A long war would favor the Poles because they had little supplies and they were waiting for help from ally support from England and France.
Hitler’s plan was to attack as quickly as possible nd destroy everything in sight. The Nazi’s called their strategy Blitzkrieg. Blitzkrieg was an offensive style of war, whic was sometimes called lighting warfare. In this form of warfare the Nazi’s would strike with small groups quickly, surpassing the Poles, destroying as much as possible, and then moving . Hitler wanted to destroy Poland before they could receive ally support. The Germans used fast moving columns of armor or motorized infantry. They used their maximum force to break throughout a minimum sector of the Polish lines.
The Nazi’s planned to attack from three sides. They first sed the Panzer divisions to break holes in the Polish lines, and then they filled the gaps with mobile units. The German tanks outnumber the Polish tanks at least ten to one, and the German airforce was five times greater than the Polish air force. This enabled the Nazi’s to immediately gain control of the air aspect of the war. “From the very moment the German army plunged across the vulnerable Polish frontier, it was apparent that they not waging a conventional war, that is, a war against the Polish government and it’s armed forces.
Instead the Germans were waging a war against the Polish people, intent on estroying the Polish nation”. 4 It was obvious that Hitler really wanted to enialate the nation just as he had told Burkhardt earlier before the war had begun, and he had the numbers to do it. The First shots were fired supposedly by the visiting Nazi battle ship called the Shlezwig Holstein. The battle ship let the first shots go onto a Polish naval ship at 04:45. These shots truly began the war. At this point the Germans had three of the Polish borders surrounded. The Nazi’s attacked from the North, South, and the West.
This strategy suprised the Poles and made it tough to defend themselves from three sides. The West was the least protected area. Yet it contained most of the Polish industrial sights. Applying pressure from three sides the Germans started to take cities fast. They destroyed everything that they could. Hitler wanted to spare no one or nothing. The Nazi’s used their advantages. They did use their advantages well by attacking swiftly and mercilessly on the land with their large numbers of ground troops and mobile units. They also attacked with large strikes from the sky.
They had a great advantage in the size of their airforce. There were many major battles that took place in this invasion. The battle of Bruza was fought on September 9, 1939 at this battle the Poles counter attack was strong, they killed thousands of Nazi’s. Yet they couldn’t keep the over powering Nazi’s from moving into Poland. This battle was followed by the taking of Lwow from September 12 throught 22, then the navy base Hel on October 2, and the Knock Coast on October 5, followed by the Modlin Fortress on September 28 throught 29. Then Hitler reached the capital city of Warsaw.
There his troops easily over powered the Poles. The Germans received a great boost when the Russians attacked from the Eastern border on September 18, 1939. Up until then the Polish troops had fought hard but, it was virtually impossible to defend themselves from all four borders. By the time the Russians came into the picture the Polish forces had already been greatly weakened. The Polish were still waiting for support from France and England, but they didn’t get it soon enough. By Mid October the Nazi’s had taken just about every city and thus had control of Poland.
After the campaign in September Poland was in bad shape. “One prominent Polish official estimated that 95% of Warsaw’s houses were either hit or damaged by bombs or fires; not a monument nor historical building escaped otal or serious damage. “5 A Polish courier later describes how Warsaw looked after the invasion “the city resembled an overturned ant heap. The streets were full of rubble, already within pathways trodden throught and over it people running in all directions. Everybody seemed to be engrossed in his own affairs, and all carrying something, a ruchsack, a basket with provisions, or a suitcase. 6 There were many loses on both sides. The German’s had 16,000 troops killed and 32,00 were wounded in action. They lost 674 tanks, 319 armor trucks, 195 guns and montars, 6,046 trucks, and 5,538 motor cycles were estroyed or badly damaged. The Russians who were attacking from the eastern front had a fairly large amount of loses in the short time that they were engaged in the battle. 2,500 Russian troops were kill, and 9,000 were wounded in action. There were 1,000 troops captured, 150 tanks and armor vehicles destroyed, along with 15 to 20 aircraft’s destroyed.
The Polish suffered many loses. Their country side was destroyed. There were 200,000 Polish killed, and not al were troops. There were 7,000 taken prisoner. After the battles were over the German police killed thousand by executing them in the streets. “Hitler killed without mbition or without pity or mercy for any man, woman, or child of Polish decent or language”7 He set up many concentration camps. In these camps people were tortured and killed. There were many reasons that the Nazi’s took control of Poland. They were fighting with an army that was much larger than the Polish army.
The Germans had more fire power and supplies than the Polish and they had better vehicles. The Germans controlled the air aspect of the war. They made many quick yet thorough are attack throughout September and into October. They also had more group troops to wear out the Poles, especially on the Western border. Both nations had devised the right stratiges for the war and both were prepared for war. The Polish new that it had to be a long war and the Germans wanted to end it quickly. Due to the fact that German just over powered the Polish made the war end before the Poles could receive ally support. There was no way Poland could have been saved from the destruction unless the British launched an offensive on the Western Front. “8 Yet there was just not enough time for the British to launch a full offensive in the west. Terrible thing began to happen to the people inside the nations that Hitler conquered. Especially for the years to follow the invasion of Poland. During the invasion men, women, and children were killed without any mercy from the Nazi’s. Many people were persecuted in the years that Germany controlled Poland. These people were persecuted due to their religion.
The major group that was persecuted against was the Jews. Hitler hated all Jews. In the early 1940’s Hitler sent Jews from all over Poland to live inside of ghettos. The Jews were not only from Poland yet there were some from other nazi controlled countries. Thousands of Jews were enclosed behind the walls of these ghettos. The most famous World War II ghetto was the Warsaw Ghetto. The Warsaw ghetto was not the only ghetto, there were many other ghettos in Europe during the Nazi campaigns. The other large and well known ghetto in Poland was the Cracow Ghetto. The ghetto in Warsaw reached a population of one half a million people.
The ghettos were packed with people living a dozen to a half a dozen in one room. The conditions in these ghettos especially the Warsaw ghetto where terrible. Many of the Jews in these ghettos were suffering from hunger and disease. From the Ghettos Jews were shipped to death came around Europe, most of these death camps were found nside of Poland. Many Jews were deported to the death camp in Treblinka during the summer of 1942, and these deportations continued till 1945. The Germans deported 300,000 Jews to Treblinka during the summer of 1942 from the ghettos. The journey from the ghettos to the camps were horrible.
They were shipped on trains and in some cases walked right into Aushwitz. The train cars were packed with full of Jews. It was a fairly long ride from some ghettos and the conditions on the train were awful due to the excessive heat. The Nazis located Asuschwitz the largest and most well known death camp a few dozen miles outside of Warsaw t Treblinka. This camp was designed for the murdering of Jews. Mostly from the Warsaw Ghetto, and some from the ghettos in other cities. Thousands of Jews were also shipped to Auschwitz from as from nine other European nations. In Auschwitz thousands of Jews were murdered.
They were poisoned using Zyclon or exhaust fumes. Jews of all ages were forced to work all day, and if they weren’t working hard enough they were shot. Women were separated fro the men, splitting families apart. People were put into crematories and burned. Jews were exicuted by the hundreds each day for no reason. They were beaten to eath by German guards. They were put into gas chambers and murdered each week. Yet each week another train full of new Jews was brought in to take their place. When the Jews were put on the train from the ghetto they were told to bring their valuables.
The Nazi’s took what they had. If it was worth anything they sent it back to Germany. At the camps the Germans burned the Jews clothes and later burned the their dead bodies. Jews were forced to service the gas chambers killing their own family and friends, they were also forced to assist in the cremation of the bodies and the collection of valuables from other risoners. Auschwitz is considered to have been the largest factory of death in the history of humanity. About 800,000 Jews lost their lives in Treblinka; about 10% of this number were citizens of countries other than Poland.
Millions of people lost their lives at Auschwitz not only Jews, there were other people of other faiths and beliefs tortured and killed here also. The Nazis then destroyed evidence of their crimes: they demolished almost all of the gas chambers, plowed the earth, and smashed the barracks. A monument and symbolic cemetery containing 17,000 stones now stands on the site of the camp to emember all of the innocent people that were murdered at Auschwitz. There were also many other death camps just like this one in Poland and through out the rest of Europe. The thing that happened at these death camps put the worst possible images in my mind.
Watching you father, wife, sister, brother, or best friend being murder and not being able to do anything about. During this time the people were living in “a world which no longer recognized the value of human life and human dignity, which had robbed man of his will and had made man an object to be exterminated; under this influence the personal ego inally suffered a loss of values… and man’s existence descended to the level of animal life. “9 The world for the people in Nazi controlled Poland was hell, and the world had never seen anything like it.
During this time religion played a large role in the lives of the still surviving Poles, especially the Jews. They were being slottered for no reason yet they had to keep their faith. The question most commonly asked during this time was at Auschwitz “where was God”. In the camps there were always those who helped everyone pray and keep the faith that would hopefully keep them alive. There was lways the strong man or woman who would give his or her bread to the person who needed it more. This is where God was found in these camps.
A great example of a religious leader in Auschwitz was Maximillian Kolbe. He was a Catholic priest, who was a prisoner there. He went around and help those in need. He watched the bodies being burned and instead of crying he made the people pray. He wasn’t worried about wether he was praying with other Catholic or if he was praying with Jews, he just united the people in prayer. One day there was an escaped prisoner and they lined the people from his bunk up and were going to kill one of them. They chose a man with a wife and kids, so Maximillian volunteered to take his place the SS agreed and let him.
They lock him up in prison with out any food and little water for two weeks. It was said he turned the cell block into a church, everyone was praying. He managed to stay alive and give as much support to everyone in his cell until they all died. They then enjected him with a fatal poison but he stayed alive until the Polish holiday the Feast of the Virgin’s Assumption, a day he would have wanted to die on. Kolbe was a great man who gave faith to man and helped them to stay strong, he died trying to elp people. The people in the camp learned from what he did and tried to keep faith and help each other.
The invasion of Poland by Hitler in the year 1939 played a huge role in the history of Europe and the history of the world. Millions of people lost their lives in Poland. The greatest effect of the invasion was that it marked the beginning of World War II. Many thing can be argued about wether it was right to start the war during this time or wether Europe should have waited or struck earlier. In my opinion the decisions made by Poland, France, and England were the right decisions. Europe and the rest f the world knew that Hitler had to be stopped before he obtained too much land and power.
His goal was to take over the world, and kill off everyone that he didn’t like. First the people of Poland need to be commiserated for their bravery. The Poles knew from the beginning that they would be invaded, and the knew that they were heavily out number and out gunned. They also knew that they pretty much had no chance against the Germans. But the Poles fought admirably, defending their country till the last second. They are depicted to have been a push over but the Nazi army didn’t suffer as many loses as hey did in Poland for at least a year until their campaign with France.
There was no doubt that the Polish people were very brave and never gave in to the more powerful German forces. Since England and France agreed to support Poland against Hitler they went to war against Germany to. This lead to most of the other European countries going to war with the Nazi’s too. This turned into a world war. Hitler had some allies such as Russia and Italy and the Japan. He spread his nation all over Europe and into the Pacific. The rest of the world battled hard to stop him. This war lasted for few years and ended in 1945. In this ar millions of people were killed from both sides. Eventually we stopped the Nazi empire.
It is obvious that the events that took place due to the invasion of Poland may be the biggest turning points that the world has ever seen. They have effected everyone in the world. Some of the effects have been positive and some have been negative. The negative is that lots of historical sight were destroyed in Europe, but most of all many Americans and innocent people were killed throughout the world. The positive effects coming from World War II are that Hitler was stopped, and if he wasn’t more innocent people would have died. Also I think hat the world learned many valuable lessons from what happened during this war.
People came together through out he world to fight a common enemy and to help each other. The one thing that I have learned from researching this paper is that what happened during this time the massive killing and destruction was terrible. I pray that the world never has to experience the horror that was experienced during this time. I also gained large amounts of respect for everyone who fought to stop Hitler, and for the Jews and others who were tortured. I hope that the world will never forget these people and the things that happened during their time.