Three German Army Groups
begin the invasion of Poland at 4:45am. Massive strikes by
Luftwaffe destroy vital communications and assembly areas,
decimating the Polish air force on the ground. Panzer and
make deep penetrations into the Polish defences, using tactics
soon to be known as the Blitzkrieg. Officially, the first
of the war are fired from the 280mm deck guns of the vintage
First World War Battleship Schleswig-Holstein. Under the guise
of honouring the anniversary of the Battle of Tannenburg, the
German Battleship, complete with a hidden cargo of Marine
troops, was allowed by the Poles to anchor directly off the
strategic peninsula of Westerplatte, located at the mouth
of the Vistula River in Danzig. At 4:47am, permission was given
the ship to open fire on the island, a strategic point on
Baltic Coast needed to support the troops advancing to the
south. Shortly after 4:47am, the ship opened up its massive
firing at near-point-blank range and zero elevation. Needless-to-say,
the shells literally pounded the small island, but although
the ships guns devastated the target, they inflicted minimal
casualties on the Poles stationed within. When the Assault
hidden within the Battleship disembarked and launched their
main assault on the island, they were repulsed taking heavy
casualties. Another assault was launched later in the morning
the Assault Marines after more shelling from the Schleswig-Holstein,
but this also ended in heavy German casualties. The Westerplatte
would prove impossible to take on the first day of World War
2. Lieutenant Wladyslaw Gnys of 2 Krakow Air Regiment shoots
down two Dornier 17 Bombers. These were to be the first German
airplanes to be shot down in World War 2.
The Luftwaffe raids Warsaw. German
troops capture the Jablunka pass in the Tatra mountains. Fighting
continued for the strategic peninsula of Westerplatte at the
mouth of the Vistula River. A massive attack was launched by
dive bombers of the II and III Stukageschwader Immelmann directed
at crushing the garrison. The air assault was not directly
followed up by a German attack from the ground and the Poles
were able to reorganise their defences. German aircraft bomb
railway station at Kolo, killing 111 refugees.
55 Polish peasants are rounded up and
shot at Truskolasy by the Nazis.
The German 3rd Army and 4th Army join
in the Corridor and re-establish the land connection between
East Prussia and the Reich that was severed in 1919 as a result
of the Versailles Treaty. German troops cross the River Pilica
in southern Poland. The German successes in Poland are beginning
to wear down the Polish armies, which are now becoming isolated
from one another, making the mounting of coordinated counter-attacks
increasingly difficult. At Bydgoszcz, a thousand Poles are murdered,
including several dozen Boy Scouts who are shot against a wall
by German troops.
Under the relentless pressure by the
Wehrmacht, the Polish Army withdraws behind the Vistula river,
but the German troops gain bridgeheads on the opposite bank.
German troops advancing through Poland
occupy the former German industrial area of Upper Silesia.
Polish forces trying to hold the line
at the Narew River, start to collapse. Krakow surrenders to
German troops. The German 10th Army closes ever nearer to Warsaw.
A deeper defensive line is prepared by the Poles at the Bug
River, as their battered armies begin a withdrawal toward that
line. The BBC commences daily radio broadcasts in Polish.
Polish defenders of the Westerplatte
at Danzig surrender after a week of continuous bombardment.
The Polish government leaves Warsaw for Lublin, while its forces
surrounded at Radom face a hopeless situation.
The 8th Army (Blaskowitz) captures
Lodz and Radom, as the 1st and 4th Panzer Divisions reach
of Warsaw. Further penetrations in to the suburbs of Warsaw
by the 4th Panzer Divisions are repulsed by the cities defenders.
German troops achieve a breakthrough
at Kutno and Sandomir and reach the Vistula.
The battle of the Vistula bend flares
up near Kutno, the last major engagement of the Polish campaign.
The Luftwaffe bombs Krzemieniec.
60,000 Polish troops who are trapped
in the Radom pocket surrender.
Gdynia is captured by German forces.
A Polish breakout attempt from the Kutno pocket fails.
Kutno and Brest-Litovsk are captured
by German troops. The Red Army invades Poland from the East
with a million troops on the pretext of "protecting Poland's
Byelorussian and Ukrainian population." The Polish government
seeks asylum in Romania, where it is interned. The Polish Air
Force scores its last kills during the battle for Poland, by
shooting down a German Dornier bomber and a Soviet fighter.
The Wehrmacht and Red Army stage a
joint parade in Brest Litovsk.
The conclusion of the battle of the
Vistula bend, with the Wehrmacht taking 170,000 prisoners. Germans
suppress a Czech rebellion. Lavrenti Beria, chief of the Soviet
NKVD, sets up a Directorate for Prisoners of War and establishes
camps for the 240,000 Polish POWs in Soviet custody; about 37,000
will be used as forced-labour.
German troops in eastern Poland withdraw
to the line agreed upon in the German-Soviet treaty. The Red
Army moves in behind them to occupy the formerly Russian territory.
Polish troops at Grodno manage to kill 800 Red Army soldiers
and destroy ten tanks, whilst defending the city.
60,000 Poles, all that remains of
the Polish Southern Army surrender at Zamosz and Tomaszov.
Germany and Russia agree on partition
of Poland. 217,000 Polish troops who are fighting against the
Red Army surrender at Lvov. The NKVD begins rounding up thousands
of Polish officers and deporting them to Russia where they will
be executed a year later in the forest of Katyn near Smolensk.
A Polish regiment repels attacks by forty Soviet tanks and infantry
units at the Battle of Kodziowce. Soviet losses amount to hundreds
killed and twenty tanks destroyed.
1,150 German planes bomb Warsaw. German
Special Task Force troops execute 800 Polish intellectuals and
leaders in Bydgoszcz.
The Luftwaffe bomb Warsaw with 420
planes. Casualties in the city since the start of the war have
now reached 40,000 dead.
Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa - AK)
is formed in Warsaw.
Warsaw, besieged for more than two
weeks, surrenders after continuous air and artillery bombardments.
Near Grabowiec, 150 Polish policemen, 4 NCOs and 6 officers
among 5,000 taken prisoner, are executed by the Soviets.
German and Soviet troops meet at Brest-Litovsk
and together stage a military review. An agreement is signed
affirming their common border lines in eastern Poland.
Poland formally surrender, relieving
the 35,000 besieged Polish troops who are defending the fortress
of Modlin of their obligations thereby enabling them to surrender.
German troops enter the
devastated city of Warsaw. The Polish garrison on the Hel Peninsula
surrenders to the Germans after repeated attacks.
The first Poles are imprisoned in Pawiak
Prison in Warsaw. Some 100,000 people will undergo Nazi interrogations
here, of whom 37,000 will be executed and 60,000 sent to concentration
Hitler enters Warsaw in triumph. The
Soviet Union forces a treaty on Latvia that allows the Red Navy
to establish bases in her Baltic harbours.
After a 2 day battle against Soviet
tanks and planes and then a 5-day fight against the Germans.
The last remaining Polish troops (17,000 men) surrender to German
forces at Kock and Lublin.
An SS unit executes 20 Poles in the
Jewish cemetery in Swiecie.
The Soviet Union signs and agreement
with Lithuania that allows the Soviets to establish military
bases in the country.
Hans Frank appointed Nazi Gauleiter
(governor) of Poland.
The Russians prepare to hand over 30,000
Polish soldiers and refugees to the Nazis who respond with their
own prisoner exchange.
Germany officially incorporates western
Poland into the Reich.
The Germans start deporting Poles from
Posen (Poznan), largest city of western Poland (250,000 people),
in their attempt at establishing "pure and Germanic provinces"
"Elections" are held in Soviet-occupied
Poland now called "Western Byelorussia" and "Western
Ukraine." The USSR confiscates all property including bank
accounts, and replaces Polish currency with the ruble. Poles
are fired from their jobs and thrown into jail as the NKVD compiles
lists for deportation. Factories, hospitals, schools, are dismantled
and shipped to the USSR. Polish education and language is phased
out; libraries are closed and books burned. Churches are destroyed
and priests arrested. Even the wearing of crosses is forbidden.
Owning a typewriter is now a crime.
On the 21st anniversary of Czech independence,
celebrations become mass protests. A young medical student,
Jan Opletal, is fatally wounded.
Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov boasts:
"One swift blow to Poland, first by the German Army and
then by the Red Army, and nothing was left of this ugly offspring
of the Versailles Treaty!". He also accuses the British
The Gestapo rounds up 183 professors
of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and sends them to Sachsenhausen
concentration camp near Berlin. In Soviet occupied Poland, Ukrainian
peasants murder 200 Polish refugees after offering them food
The funeral of Czech Jan Opletal becomes
the occasion for a large student demonstration. The Germans
strike back ruthlessly, sentencing nine student leaders to death,
closing the Czech universities, and sending 1200 students to
concentration and labour camps.
The USSR forces Soviet
citizenship on all residents of Polish territory under their
Because of its brutal aggression
against Finland, the Soviet Union is expelled from the League
Lavrenti Beria, head of the NKVD, orders
the start of large-scale deportation of Poles to the USSR.