Sept. 7, 1939 - Battle of Wizna

Battle of Wizna, also called the Polish Thermopylae, was fought between September 7 and September 10.

On September 7, 1939, the reconnaissance units of the German 10th Panzer Division captured the village of Wizna. Polish mounted reconnaissance squads after a short fight retreated to the other, southern, bank of the Narew river. German tanks tried to cross the river but the bridge blown up by Polish engineers. After dark, patrols of German infantry crossed the river and advanced forward but were repelled with heavy casualties.

On September 8 general Heinz Guderian, commander of the XIX Panzer Corps, was ordered to advance through Wizna. By early morning of September 9 his units reached the Wizna area and were joined with 10th Panzer Division and "Lötzen" Brigade already present in the area. His forces numbered some 1 200 officers and 41 000 soldiers and NCOs, equipped with over 350 tanks, 108 howitzers, 58 pieces of artillery, 195 anti-tank guns, 108 mortars, 188 grenade launchers, 288 heavy machine guns and 689 machine guns. Altogether, his forces were some 60 times stronger than the Polish defenders (720 men including 20 officers).

Although the Polish resistance was finally broken, the fortified area of Wizna managed to halt the German advance for three days. The heroic struggle against overwhelming odds is nowadays one of the symbols of the Polish Defensive War of 1939 and is a part of Polish popular culture. The battle is the theme of one of the Sabaton songs on "The Art of War" album, entitled "40:1", for an estimated ratio of forces on both sides of battle.

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