Warning: mysqli_result::fetch_array(): Couldn't fetch mysqli_result in /home/temujin77/ww2db.com/country.php on line 440
Poland in World War II | World War II Database

Poland

Full Name 14 Republic of Poland
Alliance Allies - Minor Member Nation or Possession
Entry into WW2 1 Sep 1939
Population in 1939 34,775,000
Military Deaths in WW2 400,000
Civilian Deaths in WW2 5,200,000
 - Civ Deaths from Holocaust 3,000,000

Contributor:

ww2dbaseOn 11 Nov 1918, at the end of WW1, Poland returned to the map of Europe for the first time for 123 years. Józef Pilsudski, who ruled Poland from 1918 until his death in 1935, quickly established rather effective legal, transportation, administrative, and military systems under a dictatorial regime.

ww2dbaseEconomically, Poland had a relatively prosperous 1920s, but the global depression of the 1930s hit the country rather hard, especially considering the rapid population growth. The conservative government spending habits did little to increase the monetary supply in the Polish economy, though the Polish government did develop very advanced socialist programs.

ww2dbaseDuring the inter-war years, Poland's greatest achievement was in the realm of foreign policy. Pilsudski laid out a careful circle of friends in the diplomatic arena, first allying with France to restrain Germany from the thought of invasion from the west, then allied with neighboring Hungary and Romania to discourage aggression from the Soviet Union in the east. In 1932, Poland signed a non-aggression treaty with the Soviet Union that calmed relations and reduced the incidents on the eastern border. In 1934, a similar treaty was signed with Germany to reduce tension and to normalize trade. On the surface, this seemed to have eased German's frustration with East Prussia having been separated from Germany Proper after the creation of Poland.

ww2dbaseMilitarily, the Polish Navy was small but strong enough to counter a modest attack from the Baltic Sea, the Polish Air Force was highly advanced with the world's only all-metal air fleet, and the Polish Army was unified and enjoyed high prestige. However, as the 1930s went on, politicians who controlled the armed forces, despite top leadership's military origins, did not effectively manage the build-up to its maximum potential during peace time, and the Polish military fell behind its neighboring counterparts as quickly as it had grown.

ww2dbaseTo bolster diplomatic and military efforts, the Polish dedicated many resources to the field of intelligence. As early as the early 1930s, Polish mathematicians from the University of Poznan cracked German and Soviet military codes, therefore the Polish military was able to monitor military deployments of the two neighboring powers.

ww2dbaseAs Europe moved toward war, Czechoslovakia and Poland drew closer in the face of the potential common enemy, Germany. The two countries negotiated toward an alliance where Poland would gain partial ownership of the Skoda weapons plants for the promise that Poland would come to the aid of Czechoslovakia should a German invasion take place. When Germany annexed Czechoslovakia, however, Poland turned on its ally and took part in the partition of the country, capturing a small piece of eastern Czechoslovakia (the territory of Treschen and the nearby Bohumin rail junction) in Mar 1939. Although Germany and Poland had been debating over the Danzig issue, Poland did not realize Germany would soon turn on Poland until it was too late.

ww2dbaseOn 1 Sep 1939, after a series of purposefully-made unacceptable ultimatums, German troops poured across the Polish border after staging a bogus border incident. The Polish forces fought back fiercely, outperforming the German Army in the few occasions where the two forces were evenly matched. The more modernized and mobile German military, with ample air support, made those situations rare, however, by simply out-maneuvering the Polish forces. On 5 Sep, Poland moved its military headquarters to southeastern Poland, with the intention of allowing its top generals to continue the fight while northern Poland was being overrun. This prolonged the war gave allied France and the United Kingdom more time to launch a counterattack against Germany (which would never happen), but it also created much confusion between the political and military leaders, making the defense effort uncoordinated. The prospect of French and British intervention and the Polish military's ability to inflict high casualties against the oncoming Germans gave Poland some hope, but the optimism took a decisive hit when the Soviet Union invaded from the east on 17 Sep 1939. Poland surrendered on 28 Sep, and coordinated military resistance ceased by the first week of Oct.

ww2dbaseAfter the conquest, Eastern Poland was occupied by Soviet forces. Western Poland was annexed by Germany. Central Poland was governed by a German military government. Economically, the occupation forces looted Poland, with the Germans taking large portions of the produce without regard to the starvation of the people, while the Soviets uprooted Polish industries and relocated them to the east. Politically, the Soviets planted intrigue and fostered violence between Jews and ethnic Ukrainians, while the Germans did the same between Christians and Jews. Both sides created slave labor from the population, while leaving the conquered and dismembered country to suffer starvation and disease.

ww2dbaseIn Jun 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union, and eastern Poland became one of the first battlefields. As the Soviet occupiers fled east, the German Einsatzgruppen units moved in immediately after them. Polish towns and villages that had survived the Soviet NVKD now faced German mobile killing squads. These squads systematically rounded up Jews, potential political opponents, and even innocent civilians for detention or massacre. Throughout the WW2 period, German mass killings, particularly against Jews, increased in efficiency and ruthlessness. The most infamous was the use of gas chambers, which began at the Auschwitz Concentration camp in occupied Poland on 3 Sep 1941. Within months, entire trains were dedicated to bringing Jews and other unwanted peoples for extermination.

ww2dbaseMany groups of armed Polish resistance existed during the war. The group that posed the greatest threat to the German and Soviet occupiers was the Home Army (Armia Krajowa). The AK, which absorbed smaller resistance groups, was more so a secret underground government than a mere guerrilla force. In addition to having a military chain-of-command, it also maintained schools, industries, radio stations, and publishing services for the Polish people. The military wing of the AK initially opposed frequent confrontations with German forces in order to preserve strength, particularly with the brutal retribution attacks on civilians in mind. That restraint was lifted on 1 Aug 1944 as Soviet troops neared Warsaw. Although the Polish still held the Soviets, the AK thought the Soviet troops would, at least temporarily, ally themselves with the Polish resistance fighters for the common goal of removing German forces from Warsaw. When Warsaw would become liberated, AK leaders would then be able to claim legitimacy for being those who liberated the capital. Resistance fighters rose up as ordered against great odds, destroying German armored vehicles and killing many occupation soldiers. Adolf Hitler, furious, ordered the occupation force to systematically level entire sections of Warsaw until the city was nothing more than a pile of rubble. As the fighting continued and Polish resistance strength slowly waned, Soviet forces stood by. Furthermore, the Soviet Union even refused the Western Allies from using Soviet air bases to mount supply operations for the Polish resistance. As the Germans brutally quelled the uprising, Joseph Stalin's intentions were, belatedly, crystal clear. Tactically, the Soviets were letting the Germans to expend ammunition and lives. Strategically, Stalin, who had a puppet regime for post-war Poland already in mind, saw this as an opportunity to remove future political opposition.

During the occupation between 1939 and 1945, an estimated 5,200,000 civilians died as a direct result; that number alone was staggering without needing to stress the fact that it amounted to 15% of the 1939 population of Poland.

ww2dbaseThe liberation of Poland by the Soviet Union was a repeat of the 1939 conquest. The Soviets once again looted all they could from Poland, and the people starved. As the Western Allies turned a blind eye to the Soviet treatment of Poland, the AK fell apart without western support. Polish border was redrawn as Stalin pleased. Eastern Poland, conquered by the Soviets during the 1939 invasion, was annexed. To justify the territorial loss, the Allies granted Poland eastern portions of Germany. The border changes resulted in forced population relocations, which led to further human suffering. With a Moscow-backed puppet government in place in Warsaw, Poland remain independent in name only until the end of the Cold War.

ww2dbaseSources:
John Radzilowski, A Traveller's History of Poland
William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

People

Anders, WładysławGertz, WandaMaczek, Stanislaw
Beck, JózefIwanow-Szajnowicz, JerzyRokossovsky, Konstantin
Bohusz-Szyszko, ZygmuntJankowski, JanRumkowski, Chaim
Christine GranvilleKomorowski, TadeuszRydz-Śmigły, Edward
Czerniaków , AdamLazebnik, FayeSikorski, Władysław

Events Taken Place in Poland

The Danzig Crisis24 Oct 1938 - 29 Aug 1939
Operation Peking29 Aug 1939 - 1 Sep 1939
Invasion of Poland1 Sep 1939 - 6 Oct 1939
Gestapo-NKVD Conferences27 Sep 1939 - 31 Mar 1940
Operation Barbarossa22 Jun 1941 - 30 Sep 1941
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising19 Apr 1943 - 16 May 1943
Erntefest Massacre3 Nov 1943 - 4 Nov 1943
Operation Kutschera1 Feb 1944
Operation Bagration22 Jun 1944 - 29 Aug 1944
Discovery of Concentration Camps and the Holocaust24 Jul 1944 - 29 Apr 1945
Warsaw Uprising1 Aug 1944 - 2 Oct 1944
Vistula-Oder Offensive12 Jan 1945 - 2 Feb 1945
Silesian Offensive and the Siege of Breslau8 Feb 1945 - 6 May 1945
East Pomeranian Offensive24 Feb 1945 - 4 Apr 1945

Aircraft

PZL.11PZL.23 KaraśPZL.24PZL.37 ŁośPZL.7

Ships

BłyskawicaBurzaGarlandGromOrzel

Vehicles

4TPC7PSokól 1000
7TPPZInz 130

Weapons

Blyskawica Submachine GunKarabin przeciwpancerny wzór 35 Anti-Tank RifleVis Handgun

Facilities

Auschwitz Concentration CampPrison Camp
Belzec Concentration CampPrison Camp
Chelmno Concentration CampPrison Camp
Majdanek Concentration CampPrison Camp
Sobibór Concentration CampPrison Camp
Treblinka Concentration CampPrison Camp

Photographs

Polish Schwarzlose MG M.07/12 machine gun crew at the Battle of Radzymin, Poland, Aug 1920Douglas MacArthur with Józef Piłsudski and other Polish officers, Warsaw, Poland, 1932Polish troops in winter gear with Browning wz. 28 automatic rifle and Karabinek wz.29 carbines while on exercise, Feb 1935Rydz-Smigly receiving the title of Marshal of Poland from Ignacy Moscicki, Warsaw, Poland, 10 Nov 1936
See all 112 photographs of Poland in World War II


Poland in World War II Interactive Map




Share this article with your friends:

 Facebook  Reddit
 Twitter  Digg
 Google+  Delicious
 StumbleUpon  


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds

Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Kristof Rutkowski says:
23 Oct 2008 03:22:00 AM

In paragraph 10 there is a spelling error:
it says "Armia KORJOWA" while it should read "Armia KRAJOWA".
2. Anonymous says:
2 Dec 2008 07:37:36 PM

On the first line of the article, there is an obvious grammatical error. Just letting you know.
3. Anonymous says:
1 Aug 2009 09:22:38 AM

Despite the few acceptable grammatical errors, I, an Irishman, wish to THANK YOU very much for doing an excellent job of condensing this crucial period of history.
I wouldn't mind Germany's obvious invasion, and general abhorrent behaviours, as somehow, it's to be expected, not justifiably by any means of course.
But Russia's part to play in the occupation and atrocious looting, scheming, butchery, genocide was without doubt, just unforgivable.
It looks like the Polish people, of all the people in Europe, could definitely have suffered the most of all....not an enviable claim of course.
But thanks to you, I got a very clear insight, into how Poland suffered horrendously, and so unjustly, and to this day, why those Polish living in Ireland whom I've met and befriended, have a strong distrust and disliking for the Russians.
I know we're all completely new generations, but the information you've provided here is still STAGGERING.
THANK YOU SO MUCH, AND WELL DONE.
4. Gregg Heilman says:
7 Dec 2009 05:21:08 PM

Our area of Pennsylvania was settled 300 years mainly by Germans.

As Americans our community fought proudly for America in everyone of our wars, including the Revolution.

A Pennsylvania German Unit crossed the Delaware River with George Washington to defeat the German Hessian Mercenaries.

Our German roots became American roots and we fought for our new home America in ALL the wars.

A couple years ago we had some fine young Polish Students work with us during the summer. They were hard workers and trying to earn money for school back home.

My new Polish coworker was studying to become a doctor. I told him my family doctor is of Polish decent. I said I will call him and see if he can take you to the hospital and show you first hand how our health care system works. He was so excited for this chance.

I told him, Matthew, I am going to write my name and phone number and you call me if I do not see you this week again. I then walked away.

He quickly came to me and stopped me. Matthew said "Gregg, you are German why would you do this for me a Pole?"

I said Matthew this is America, we are Americans and the other things don't count with our relationships, or at least they shouldn't. I pointed out to him a dozen people we worked with who were all of German decent but Americans. All had treated Matthew well and they liked Matthew and he them.

I believe he left knowing there was a difference in this country, the America that we call HOME.
5. Anonymous says:
6 Jan 2010 07:35:34 AM

Thank you for this summary on Poland. I find this DB very usefull in finding information.
6. Prusa says:
15 Feb 2010 10:03:47 PM

Prussia belonged to Prussian!
7. anonymous says:
10 Apr 2012 12:19:24 PM

where is prussia?
8. Mirek/ Polish says:
6 Nov 2012 04:42:46 AM

why Poland is "minor ally"???? we had 4th fighting army along alies.
some sentances which are FALSE
FALSE! "When Germany annexed Czechoslovakia, however, Poland turned on its ally and took part in the partition of the country, capturing a small piece of eastern Czechoslovakia (generally the territory of Treschen and the nearby Bohumin rail junction) in Mar 1939"
- Poland and Chechoslovakia weren't allies!!!, the Cieszyn anexation took part after Munich Crisis in 1938!, maybe write who allowed Germans to took Sudetenland? =UK,FRA,ITA,GER.

FALSE!!! "Poland surrendered on 28 Sep, and coordinated military resistance ceased by the first week of Oct."
Poland never surrendered! On 28th Warsaw surrended but NEVER was a surrender agreement like the French did in 1940 signed between Poland and Germany!!!

FACTS please! "The Germans did the exact same thing, exaggerating the differences between the Jews and the Christians and played one group against another"
after those words some will say about "polish-death camps" we can't agree with this sentence without numbers, names and other examples from the author. Got some? please write.

in the end
PLEASE read
Norman Davies: Europe at War 1939–1945: No Simple Victory. Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-69285-3

or
Norman davies: Rising '44. The Battle for Warsaw. London: Pan Books. ISBN 0-333-90568-7
kind regards
9. Anonymous says:
27 Mar 2013 06:54:17 AM

My father was in the Polish army in WW2. As I recall he kept talking about a RIFLE he had and he said he shot HOLES IN RAILROAD TRACKS with it. I know that the WZ 35 was a secret Polish rifle that could do that. How do you find a list of people who were issued this RIFLE? I think he might have used this RIFLE to help the French Resistance as they rescued him from Natzweiller. Please email me if you have any info. My father's name was WASYL WLADYLO from Nienowice. My email is justice8244@yahoo.com
10. Philip says:
8 Jan 2015 05:03:54 PM

I am searching for a missing German soldier who went missing in Krakow in 1944. He was last seen at a aid station. I have exhausted about every search engine I can find. (Moderator can include my e-ail address)
11. Anonymous says:
23 Jul 2015 04:40:55 AM

My Nan went to work in France from Poland in the late 20s, early 1930s I believe. She took her sister's place as she had got ill and was no longer able to make the journey. My Nan travelled with her aunt and ended up working in a "Castle" near Reugny in Indre et Loire. She married, had children, survived the war and had grandchildren. She was form the Krakow region. She took on her sister's identity to travel. The only other thing that I know about her is that she lost her Mum when she was around 10 years old. Her name was Rosalja Bargiel and her date of birth was 4th September 1898. She never saw or heard anything from her family from 1939. If you have any information at all, photos, newspaper cutting, anything, please e-mail me nbobet@hotmail.com
Many Thanks
12. Sasha Sakavik says:
29 Jan 2016 11:57:59 AM

Your expository summary of Poland during WWII somehow managed to exclude Poland's majority inhabitants- the Belarusans and Ukrainians in Poland and also its neighbors- the Byelorussian SSR and Ukrainian SSR from the storyline. It would have been beneficial to set the stage for pre-war Poland by describing its ethnic makeup, with Poles actually constituting a minority. This would have shed some light on the reason for the USSR's invasion. It was ethnic kinship and not Marxist ideology that motivated the Soviets to carve up Poland with the Nazis. The "Kresy" were annexed to the Byelorussian SSR and Ukrainian SSR to partially fulfill the national aspirations of those peoples.
13. DarioTW says:
21 Mar 2016 04:15:14 AM

Poland lost almost 12,8 million people (citizens) in the war, 1939-46 (date of census), from 35,8 million in August 1939 to 24 million in 1946. Your quoted numbers are 'invented ' figures by the Soviets and their lackeys in the Communist Poland. How many Polish citizens were in fact killed is still unresolved. Ideas presented by Sasha Sakavik represent the heyday of the Soviet 1929-89 and American 1943-46 [sic!] propaganda machine at the time.
14. Anonymous says:
9 Aug 2016 10:58:37 AM

Dario's numbers do not account for the fact that 1946 Poland was geographically much smaller in size than pre-war Poland. The decrease in population was not due to casualties of war, but to the movement of the border much further west; therefore, resulting in a reduced population. Chen's number of 5.2- million civilian lives lost in Poland during WWII in Poland is about right. Belarus lost about 2.2 million lives during the war, suffering from both Soviet and Nazi occupations.
15. Anonymous says:
22 Mar 2017 10:05:18 AM

It would be nice if there was a timeline about Poland throughout WW2.
16. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
23 Mar 2017 11:29:25 AM

To anonymous of 22 Mar 2017: Please click on "Events" on the top menu of this page, choose Poland in the custom search section, and click Submit. Thanks for visiting WW2DB.
17. Anonymous says:
30 Mar 2017 09:30:50 AM

Who are enemies and alliances to Poland during WW2?
18. Anonymous says:
19 Aug 2017 08:34:56 AM

There are numerous grammatical errors in this report. Please correct these.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments
Security Code
 

 

Note: We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

Search WW2DB & Partner Sites
More on Poland


Poland in World War II Photo Gallery
Polish Schwarzlose MG M.07/12 machine gun crew at the Battle of Radzymin, Poland, Aug 1920
See all 112 photographs of Poland in World War II




Famous WW2 Quote
"Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue."

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, 16 Mar 1945










Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Call to undefined function mysql_close() in /home/temujin77/ww2db.com/country.php:590 Stack trace: #0 {main} thrown in /home/temujin77/ww2db.com/country.php on line 590