French attack on Germany 1939?

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Ezboard

French attack on Germany 1939?

Post by Ezboard » 29 Sep 2002 12:22

Richard
Unregistered User
(6/23/00 2:14:00 pm)
Reply French attack on Germany 1939?
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Can you help me with info on the French attack on Germany 1939?

Chad Crompton
Unregistered User
(6/23/00 8:31:53 pm)
Reply French attack
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Hello,

I'm not an expert on this subject, but here's what happened basically. Because Germany was at war with the Republic of Poland, most oftjhe able units from the Siegfried line had been called to service in Poland, and various weak units and misc. units were placed to guard the German rear against any French intervention. The French, were reluctant to take advantage of the situation but, they did manage to probe a bit into Germany territory, but they pulled back, because French Intelligence overestimated the strength of the Wehrmact in Germany proper.

Cheers,
Chad

Glenn Steinberg
Unregistered User
(6/23/00 9:36:44 pm)
Reply Re: French attack
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The French attacked into the Saar region. You say, Chad, that they pulled out because they overestimated German forces. I find that interpretation curious. Are you aware how long it took the Allies in 1944-1945 to break through the Saar region -- when Germany was much, much less powerful in terms of its forces there than they had been in 1939? If the much, much more powerful Allies had great difficulty in penetrating through the much, much weaker German defenses in this region in 1944-1945, why do you think their failure in 1939 was due purely to timidity and to an overestimation of German forces? Could it be that the Saar is just a very difficult region to penetrate?

Gareth Collins
Global user
(6/23/00 10:27:46 pm)
Reply Re: French attack on Germany 1939?
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Operation 'Saar', the plans for which were contained in a French Army Instruction of July 24, 1939. It was directed by General Gaston Prételat, commander of the French 2nd Army Group. The attack went in on September 7, and was a complete fiasco.
Everything was against the French. For a start, the sector of the frontier between the Rhine and the Moselle selected for the French attack had been defined by the victors of Waterloo in 1815 with the express purpose of making French aggression difficult. Thus in 1939 the Germans held all the high ground. German-held salients also extended into French territory, and these would have to be reduced before the Siegfried Line was sufficiently far behind the German front line to compel the French to bring their own artillery (if it was to be within range of the casemates of the Line) within range of German counter-battery fire.
After patrolling operations, Prételat launched his attack on September 7, but it hardly got past its start-lines. A total of 31 divisions had been put at Prételat's disposal, including 14 first-line units, but only nine were used eventually. General Edouard Réquin's 4th Army, with its right flank in the Bitche region and its left on the Saar, managed to capture seven and a half miles of German territory, while its neighbour, General Condé's 3rd Army, pinched out the heavily-wooded Warndt Forest salient.
Commanding the German 1st Army General Erwin von Witzleben had 17 division to meet this attack, and ten of these had been recruited only recently. But his troops made skilful use of their advantage in terrain, relying heavily on cleverly-sited anti-tank and anti-personnel minefields. The French were unfamiliar with this threat and possessed no mine detectors. Houses booby-trapped with explosives added to the German minefield defences.
What of the Siegfried line itself, which the French had planned to attack after September 17. General Siegfried Westphal has gone on record as describing the Line as a 'gigantic bluff', but it was not. Its defences were sound, and the French artillery could do little damage to them. Major-General Ulrich Liss, head of 'Section West' of Germany Army Intelligence, stated that the French 155-mm shells caused negligible damage. The heavier 220-mm and 280-mm guns were not provided with delayed-action fused shells, which would have enabled the projectiles to penetrate the casemates before exploding. Liss admitted that the French guns maintained a high and accurate rate of fire, but stated that a large number of the French shells failed to explode as they came from stocks dating back to WWI.

Source: Illustrated World War II Encyclopedia.

Hope I helped,
gfc

Chad Crompton
Unregistered User
(6/24/00 1:11:31 am)
Reply Glenn...
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Hello,

I know almost nothing about the Saar operation. I was just re-typing from what I read in the World War II history magazine a couple months ago.

Cheers,
Chad

Marcus Wendel
Administrator
(6/26/00 4:28:41 pm)
Reply Re: French attack on Germany 1939?
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I found an article on this subject:
http://www.thehistorynet.com/WorldWarII ... _cover.htm

/Marcus

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