September Campaign - Civilian losses

The September Campaign was an instance of total war. Consequently, civilian casualties were high during and after combat. Apart from the victims of the battles, the German forces are credited with the mass murder of several thousands of Polish POWs and civilians. Also, during Operation Tannenberg, nearly 20,000 Poles were shot at 760 mass execution sites by special units, the Einsatzgruppen.

Altogether, the civilian losses of Polish population amounted to about 150,000-200,000 while German civilian losses amounted to roughly 3,250 (including 2,000 who died fighting Polish troops as members of a fifth column).

Swedish Rockers Invade Poland to commemorate WWII

HuffingtonPost: On Sept. 1, 1939, Poland was attacked by Nazi Germany. Now, 70 years later, a Swedish heavy metal band, Sabaton, is swooping down on Poland lauding the Poles for their valiant effort against the German blitzkrieg that started World War II and captured all of Europe.

The band has written a thunderous guitar song about Battle of Wizna that won the hearts of its fans, and WWII veterans, in Poland.

The shot that ignited Europe

The Australian: The 70th anniversary of the start of World War II will be officially marked on Tuesday when German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets the prime ministers of Russia and Poland in Gdansk to commemorate the day Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's tanks rolled across Poland's borders.

We must not forget the real causes of the war

The Independent: It was Hitler’s invasion of Poland that set off the Second World War war, argues Norman Davies, one of our leading historians. But their suffering and Russia’s part in their fate afterwards still goes unrecognised.

Battle of Szack

Battle of Szack was one of the major battles between the Polish Army and the Red Army fought in 1939 in the beginning the Second World War.

At 8 o'clock in the morning the Soviet tank unit (composed mostly of the T-26 tanks) started a direct assault on Polish positions. When the tanks were only some 500 metres from the Polish lines the Polish anti-tank guns opened fire. Soon they were joined by the infantry and the 75 mm artillery. All Soviet tanks were destroyed and Polish battalion was ordered to attack the town of Szack. The Soviet units were taken by surprise and after a short hand to hand fight the Soviet forces were routed. Only a small part of the motorised infantry managed to retreat, but had to leave behind all their lorries, artillery and 9 T-26 tanks. The Poles also captured the staff headquarters.

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Bloody Sunday

On September 3, 1939, two days after the beginning of the German invasion of Poland, highly controversial killings occurred in and around the Polish city of Bydgoszcz, with a sizable German minority, located in the Pomeranian Voivodeship.

According to the traditional Polish version, the incident is related to the activities of groups of German saboteurs attacking Polish troops behind the front lines. As a contingent of the Polish Army from Pomerania was withdrawing through Bydgoszcz it was attacked by German irregulars from within the city and reported to be engaging enemy snipers. In the ensuing fight both sides suffered some casualties; captured German nonuniformed armed insurgents were executed on spot and some mob lynching was also reported.

The killings were followed by German reprisals and oppression, including a "de-Polonisation" campaign. In an act of retaliation, hundreds of Polish civilians were picked at random and executed by German military, including by units of Einsatzgruppen, Waffen SS and Wehrmacht, with further reprisals soon to follow. After attacks by Polish snipers on German troops in Bydgoszcz continued for several days, German governor, General Walter Braemer, ordered the execution of 80 Polish hostages over the next few days. By September 8, 1939, between 200 to 400 Polish civilians had been killed.

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Romanian Bridgehead

The Romanian Bridgehead was an area in southeastern Poland, now located in Ukraine. September 14, 1939 the Polish Commander in Chief Marshal of Poland Edward Rydz-Śmigły ordered all Polish troops fighting east of the Vistula (approximately 20 divisions still retaining cohesion) to withdraw towards Lwów (now in Ukraine), and then to the hills along the borders with Romania and the Soviet Union.

The plan was that the Polish forces would be able to organise a successful defence until the winter, and hold out until the promised French offensive on the Western Front started. However, the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17 made those plans obsolete. As a result, Polish units were ordered to evacuate Poland and reorganize in France.

Up to 120,000 Polish troops withdrew to neutral Romania and Hungary. The majority of those troops joined the newly-formed Polish Armed Forces in the West. Until the United States, the Polish army was one of the largest forces of the Allies.

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