The myth about the blitzkrieg in Poland

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The myth about the blitzkrieg in Poland

Post by Ezboard » 29 Sep 2002 19:26

Benoit Douville
New Member
Posts: 9
(7/15/01 10:10:46 pm)
Reply The myth about the blitzkrieg in Poland
It took 6 long weeks with the help of the Soviet Union to take an army with cavalry! Considering all the weapon that the German army have at their disposal, i don't think we can call it a great victory. The real blitzkrieg by Guderian was really in full application in the Spring of 1940 and the victory over Norway, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Danemark and France.

Posts: 43
(7/15/01 10:46:50 pm)
Reply Re: The myth about the blitzkrieg in Poland
I agree with minor correction cavalry units were used as a mobile infantry, so the existence of it was hardly the indication of archaism. Cavalry was used with Great effect on Eastern Front. For instance Manstein counterstroke around Kharkov was aborted by Soviet Cavalry Corps.

(7/16/01 4:04:45 am)
Reply "Six weeks"
According to "Brittanica" it took
only 18 days and Poland was overrun.Is history getting revised again?

(7/16/01 4:18:47 am)
Reply Barbarossa
Don't forget that the "blitzkrieg" blazed across the western plains of Russia with amazing speed and effectiveness in the opening months of Barbarossa. Probably even moreso than seen against the French.


Posts: 44
(7/16/01 6:19:16 am)
Reply Re: Barbarossa
Britannica is hardly reliable source of military history, as for Barbarossa it was from smooth as well. The only real Blitzkreig was against France.

New Member
Posts: 6
(7/16/01 6:21:28 am)
Reply Wehrmact in Poland
"It took 6 long weeks with the help of the Soviet Union to take an army with cavalry!"

Technically the majority of world armies at the time employed Calvary formations, including the British, Germans and Russians. So this statement is somewhat false. Though most armies deployed calvary as recconasience forces, they were in World War II still used in the traditional sense.

Another comment about your text; An overwealming majority of the Polish army was overrun way before 6 weeks! Negotations were held first on the 27 of September, then the city garrison was handed over to the Germans on the 29th.

You stated that Germany took Poland with the Help of the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union barely got their hands dirty in the eastern Polish campagin. I mean the 4 Gebirigs division took Lemberg, a powerful eastern Polish garrison. So what in you're oppinion how did the Soviets really help out in this campagin?

Just my 2 cents,

Edited by: ChadMCrompton at: 7/16/01 8:02:46 am

Posts: 45
(7/16/01 6:29:46 am)
Reply Re: Wehrmact in Poland
The Polish Campaign 1939 by Steven Zaloga & Victor Madej published by Hippocrine Books, INC. They also provide different number of German and Soviet casualties For Germans: 16000 dead and 32000 wounded, 647 tanks lost-217 of them totally the remains damaged to the extent that they could not be repaired in the field by divisional recovery units, in addition 319 armored cars were lost, 195 mortars, 6046 trucks and 5538 motorcycles. For RKKA they provide number of about 900 dead.

"Contrary to the popular myths, the September Campaign was by no means an easy campaign for the Wehrmacht. In view of its overwhelming superiority in men and machines, it suffered surprisingly high equipment losses. Nor was the campaign without its blunders by the German side. The lack of tactical experience with mechanized units was quite evident in several of the major battles of the campaign. Against a much weaker
enemy, the Germans could develop needed experience and make the necessary changes before confronting their more equal French and British foe."

The myth of the "eighteen-day war" is not borne out by German casualty figures. The German Army Group South, which bore 75 percent of the German casualties in Poland, lost more men killed in the final half of the war than in the first two weeks. The last two weeks of September saw the culmination of the savage Bzura River fighting, and the violent confrontations around Lwow, Tomaszow, Brzesc, Modlin, and Warsaw. While German commanders were frequently contemptuous of the Polish High Command, their opinion of the quality of the Polish soldiers, especially the cavalry troops was usually quite high. The Polish predicament was not helped by the Soviet invasion on 17 September. Although there was little serious fighting between the Red Army and the Polish Army, the invasion shortened the duration of Polish resistance against the Wehrmacht and substantially reduced the number of Polish troops escaping into Romania and Hungary. Sandwiched between German and Soviet lines, many Polish units were forced to surrender rather than withdraw further eastward and continue fighting the Germans. The fighting in eastern Poland probably would have lasted several weeks longer but for the Soviet intervention. The Soviet intervention also closed off the southeast escape route of many Polish units.

Edited by: OPTIMATOR at: 7/16/01 6:55:06 am

Richard Murphy
Veteran Member
Posts: 164
(7/17/01 8:42:55 pm)
Reply Re: Wehrmact in Poland
An excellent analysis Optimator.



(7/18/01 7:22:52 pm)
Reply Blitzkrieg in Poland
Hi guys,

I would have to agree with Chad, in that the bulk of the Polish field armies were crushed in the first few weeks. After this the remants of the Polish field troops either withdrew into the fortress cities (as Optimator points out) or pulled back into eastern Poland where they tried to reorganize themselves. Once the Russians invaded, the few groups of troops still in the field were crushed by the converging advances of the Germans or Russians or attempted to escape into Romania.

A few things I wanted to point out are;
1.) The Polish use of cavalry had been misunderstood in the public mind, in that their intended use was as mobile infantry (ie the cavalry used the mobility their horses provided them to get to where they had to go and then fought on foot). It would be inappropriate to think that the Poles still championed their use in reckless cavalry charges. When such charges did occur, they were more 'in the spur of the moment' than part of tactical doctrine.

2.) The fact that, as the Optimator points out, German casualties were heavier in the closing stages of the campaign can be explained that the Germans now had to assault the fortified positions around the remaining Polish cities. This kind of fighting, by nature (ie assaulting fortified positions or engaging in street fighting), usually involves far greater casualties than does fluid combat operations in the countryside. Lets not forget that the Germans were considerably more motorised than their Polish opponents, which made the Kesselschlacht battles easier (and cheaper) for the Germans.

3.) In connection with the above paragraph, by being able to fight from prepared positions the Poles were able to make better use of the natural tenacity and courage of their soldiers. This said, Polish soldiers certainly knew how to fight and die. Many Germans applauded their fighting qualties of the Poles (including Kurt Meyer who was a member of the Liebstandarte during the campaign). German General Blaskowitz so admired the courage of the Polish garrison of Warsaw that he gave them the honours of war when they finally surrendered, something that put him in the bad books of Hitler. For the Germans the Polish campaign was a testing ground for their armed forces. The infantry was criticised afterwards as not being aggressive enough, which led to a revision of the junior leadership and increased field training prior to the French campaign. As well, the Polish campaign showed the uselessness of the Light (motorised) divisions, after which they were fully upgraded into panzer divisions.

All this being said, for the Germans, the campaign was already decided by the time Warsaw was encircled (in that the outcome of the Polish campaign was already decided in Germany's favour). This is not to say that pockets of Polish troops continued to resist long after this time. If I'm not mistaken, the Polish garrison of Westerplatte held out till early October while the Germans were still trying to track down large groups of Polish troops in the vast forests and swamps of eastern Poland by late October.

Best Regards

Posts: 52
(7/18/01 7:56:39 pm)
Reply Re: Blitzkrieg in Poland

Well actually Poland lost the war before it started since 30 weak Polish divisions were facing 60 German divisions and later on with this force from Russian side:

BeloRussian Front

3rd Army

4th Rifle Corps
50th Rifle Division
27th Rifle Division

5th Rifle Division
24th Cavalry Division
22nd Tank Brigade
25th Tank Brigade

11th Army

16th Rifle Corps
2nd Rifle Division
100 Rifle Division

3rd Cavalry Corps
7th Cavalry Division
36th Cavalry Division
6th Tank Brigade

Kavalry-Mechanized Group

5 Rifle Corps
4th Rifle Division
13th Rifle Division

6 Cavalry Corps
4th Cavalry Division
6th Cavalry Division
11th Cavalry Division

15th Tank Corps
2nd Tank Brigade
27th Tank Brigade
20th Motorised Brigade
21st Tank Brigade

10th Army

11th Rifle Corps
6th Rifle Division
33rd Rifle division
121st Rifle Division

4th Army
8th Rifle division
29th Tank Brigade
32nd Tank Brigade

23rd Independent Rifle Corps
52nd Rifle Divisioon
DVF (Dnjepr Military Flotilla)

Ukrainian Front

5th Army

15 Rifle Corps
60th Rifle Division
87th Rifle Division
45th Rifle Division

8th Rifle Corps
81st Rifle Division
44th Rifle Division
36th Tank Brigade

6th Army

17th Rifle Corps
96th Rifle Division
97th Rifle Division
38th Tank Brigade
10th Tank Brigade

2nd Cavalry Corps
3rd Cavalry Division
5th Cavalry Division
14th Cavalry Division
24th Tank Brigade

12th Army

13th Rifle Corps
72nd Rifle Division
99th Rifle Division

4th Cavalry Corps
32nd Cavalry Division
34th Cavalry Division
26th Tank Brigade

5th Cavalry Corps
9th Cavalry Division
16th Cavalry Division
23rd Tank Brigade

25th Tank Corps
4th Tank Brigade
5th Tank Brigade
1st Motorised Brigade

By the way couple more points ,people tend to judge Soviet performance in Poland as poor forgetting that RKKA had only 17 days to prepare while Germans had about 5 months.

Soviet Tank corps were disbanded after 1939 not because of bad thinking but because their structure proved to be faulty -just as German light divisions.

Veteran Member
Posts: 257
(7/18/01 9:52:48 pm)
Reply On the hoof
OPTIMATOR - thanks for the info. I don't know much about the Polish campaign but those German casualty figures are much higher than I would have expected - what was knocking out the tanks? Mines? Anti-Tank artillery? other tanks?

As to Calvary there was some British General (around the first World War I believe) who said, "The bullet has no stopping power against the horse". Certainly a romantic notion but I wouldn't want to put it to the test.

Mounted police or soldiers are still one of the most effective means of crowd control - as many Americans have learned the hard way.

Posts: 57
(7/19/01 7:26:34 pm)
Reply Re: On the hoof
PZ.1 and PZII which were mainstream of Pamzerwaffe in 1939 could be knocked out by almost anything. Poles even used successfully Russian Putilov guns of Russo-Japanese war heritage against them. But in addition to that Poles had bunch of Modern AT guns - license produce Bofors model, AT rifles of domestic Polish design, some 76mm AA guns, and French Filed guns of WW1 heritage.

kapitan DRAGO
Posts: 16
(7/20/01 12:43:55 am)
Reply Re: On the hoof
To the start of Barbarosa ,the Polish campign is the most casualties for the Germans.

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