German troops advance into a Polish town behind the cover of an armoured car, September 1939.
Eastern Europe!
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01/09/1939 Three German Army Groups begin the invasion of Poland at 4:45am. Massive strikes by the Luftwaffe destroy vital communications and assembly areas, decimating the Polish air force on the ground. Panzer and motorised divisions make deep penetrations into the Polish defences, using tactics soon to be known as the Blitzkrieg. Officially, the first shots 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 assault 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 to the ship to open fire on the island, a strategic point on the Baltic Coast needed to support the troops advancing to the south. Shortly after 4:47am, the ship opened up its massive main guns, 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 Marines 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.
02/09/1939 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 60 Stuka 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.
03/09/1939 55 Polish peasants are rounded up and shot at Truskolasy by the Nazis.
04/09/1939 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.
05/09/1939 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.
06/09/1939 German troops advancing through Poland occupy the former German industrial area of Upper Silesia.
07/09/1939 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.
08/09/1939 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.
09/09/1939 The 8th Army (Blaskowitz) captures Lodz and Radom, as the 1st and 4th Panzer Divisions reach the outskirts of Warsaw. Further penetrations in to the suburbs of Warsaw by the 4th Panzer Divisions are repulsed by the cities defenders.
10/09/1939 German troops achieve a breakthrough at Kutno and Sandomir and reach the Vistula.
12/09/1939 The battle of the Vistula bend flares up near Kutno, the last major engagement of the Polish campaign. The Luftwaffe bombs Krzemieniec.
13/09/1939 60,000 Polish troops who are trapped in the Radom pocket surrender.
15/09/1939 Gdynia is captured by German forces. A Polish breakout attempt from the Kutno pocket fails.
17/09/1939 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.
18/09/1939 The Wehrmacht and Red Army stage a joint parade in Brest Litovsk.
19/09/1939 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.
20/09/1939 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.
21/09/1939 60,000 Poles, all that remains of the Polish Southern Army surrender at Zamosz and Tomaszov.
22/09/1939 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.
24/09/1939 1,150 German planes bomb Warsaw. German Special Task Force troops execute 800 Polish intellectuals and leaders in Bydgoszcz.
25/09/1939 The Luftwaffe bomb Warsaw with 420 planes. Casualties in the city since the start of the war have now reached 40,000 dead.
26/09/1939 Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa - AK) is formed in Warsaw.
27/09/1939 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.
28/09/1939 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.
29/09/1939 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.
 
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01/10/1939 German troops enter the devastated city of Warsaw. The Polish garrison on the Hel Peninsula surrenders to the Germans after repeated attacks.
02/10/1939 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 camps.
05/10/1939 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.
06/10/1939 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.
08/10/1939 An SS unit executes 20 Poles in the Jewish cemetery in Swiecie.
10/10/1939 The Soviet Union signs and agreement with Lithuania that allows the Soviets to establish military bases in the country.
12/10/1939 Hans Frank appointed Nazi Gauleiter (governor) of Poland.
18/10/1939 The Russians prepare to hand over 30,000 Polish soldiers and refugees to the Nazis who respond with their own prisoner exchange.
19/10/1939 Germany officially incorporates western Poland into the Reich.
21/10/1939 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" in Poland.
22/10/1939 "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.
28/10/1939 On the 21st anniversary of Czech independence, celebrations become mass protests. A young medical student, Jan Opletal, is fatally wounded.
31/10/1939 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 of aggression.
 
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06/11/1939 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 and accommodation.
17/11/1939 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.
29/11/1939 The USSR forces Soviet citizenship on all residents of Polish territory under their control.
 
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14/12/1939 Because of its brutal aggression against Finland, the Soviet Union is expelled from the League of Nations.
18/12/1939 Lavrenti Beria, head of the NKVD, orders the start of large-scale deportation of Poles to the USSR.
 

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