Discussion in 'World War 2' started by monoftalmos, Nov 6, 2006.
I came across that topic on the French Forum dealing with WWII subject. What is your opinion?
I would imagine the French racked up a higher German body count. Plus I would guess that there were larger numbers of Frenchmen still fighting (resistance and armies in exile) than there were Poles.
the easier question is
France or Poland, which helped Germany more?
Now I don't want this to turn into a french bashing session but certainly Poland failed to cooperate with germany in most matters though they suffered as a result.
You also have to bear in mind geographically poland was irelevent to the western allies. Resistance was not needed for the invasion, it's ports and factories were of limited use to germany compared to france and it's distance meant that the allies could do little about it like bombing or dropping supplies to resistance.
added to that that france had an empire which was very important even after the end of 1940 (Africa and Asia), a naval fleet of significant size and power and close links to the UK which meant that french soldiers could be rescued to continue fighting.
One wonders where the free polish airborne units got their members from? whethere were poles living abroad or if any poles escaped the 39 german attack and subsiquent betrayal by russia
Naval evacuation would be a good guess. The minefield blocking the Danish straits, laid out by both Denmark and Germany, were not in place during Fall Weiß.
The role of Poles are usually neglected. Examples?Poles were not invited to the great parade of victory in London 50 years ago and during last celebrations in Moscou, to comemorete the victory over the Nazi, the monument of 4 solidiers was showed - American, French, British, Russian.
Is there a place for nations like Poles, Czechs, Canadians in WWII history?
When it comes to the topic-
Some may argue about the exact number of French and Polish armies during the war.
Unfortunatelly i do not have exact data. Maybe someone could help with it?
As for the Poles, the solid will to fight with Hitler at all costs is, indeed, admirable. So many soldiers fleed the country to join Polish armies in the West! (so did, in the smaller scale, only Czech's - worth mentioning decents Czech fightings squadron,;J.Frantisek Czech who was flying with Polish collegues in 303 scored 17 planes during the battle of Brittain, which ranks him on the top of pilots of that battle)
campaign in Poland
campaign in France
86 000 infantry and tankists, 86 planes (pilots) - part of this quite big army was underequipped thanks to French doubts about their courage and skill (leaving that without question, that kind of attitiude is typical for the Westeuropeans)
campaign in Norway
2 000 ?
battle of Brittain - the best fighting squadron -303
151 pilots, 12 proc of German losses - later it developped into Polish Wing in RAF
After the collapse of France only about 20 000 of Poles got to GB.
1 Division of Parachuters were created (later took part in Market Garden, under gen. Sosabowski) and
1 Armoured Division - fought in Falaise 16 000
in 1941 - 5 000 in Lybia (Tobruk)
80 000 were evacuated from USRR in 1942, via Iran, Irak to help British in Africa, later famous for capturing Monte Cassino (also thanks to French divisions that flanked Germanes)
in the West alltougether 210 000
in the East about 300 000
plus resistance in Poland (about 300 000 members),
we should not underestimate Varsow uprising in 1944, during which more Germans were killed that in Polish 1939 Campaign, lasted 63 days
Numbers are not everything. The quality of men is also imortant. Poles were the most important ally of Brittain
during the darkest day of WWII, when they were bombared at home and loosing their power in Africa.
Honestly, I am no particular "fan" of comparing some particular nation to another in order to determine who did "more".
I mean what criteria are relevant in order to know who did more?
-tne number of ennemy soldiers killed/captured by a state?
-the number of military losses of some state?
-the number of weapons produced by a sate?
Personally I think that both Poland and France achieved spectacular sucesses if one considers what small forces they had left after their respective defeats of 1939(Poland) and 1940(France).
I am not particulary familiar with the polish side of the story, but for France it is worth considering that in 1940 only a handfull of free french led by General De Gaulle continued the fight.
However two years later a french army of 140.000 men fought alongside the allies in Tunisia, playing a vital role in that campaign.
A year later, the french expeditionary force in Italy played a decisive rolew in the allied victory.
Even Feldmarschall Kesselring said that" My greatest worry was the french expeditionary force.From it's actions depended all my decisions."
Later, during the battle for France, in only one month (15th august-12th september), french 1st Army +Résistance figthers captured and killed 125.000 german soldiers(which is 1/3 of total number of prisoners taken by the allies during that campaign.Over 1/2 of France was actually liberated by french forces.
In the autumn of 1944 french forces killed + captured another 95.000 german soldiers in the resistance pockets on the atlantic coast.(Royan, ST.Nazaire, La Rochelle....)
French 1st army also played an important role in the battle for Alsace.In 1945 the same army conquered southwestern Germany and Austria, taking another 500.000 prisoners.In the same time french forces had crossed the Alps and reached Turin in northern Italy when the war ended.
The actions of Résistance fighters during the Normandy campaign were important too, as 9 german divisions(one of them 116th Panzer Division)had to be used against them.
Résistance derailed 650-700 german trains during hune+july 1944)
French navy also during the whole war was the third largest allied fleet.(if you consider major combat ships, otherwise Canada's navy was more numerous)
These are just some examples and do not mean that I think that France was of bigger value for the allies than Poland.
Both nations, after their initial disasters made great efforts and sacrifices, honoured their long military traditions and both had an important part in the allied victory.
But so did tens of other countries....
Yes that is true but also it is also true that the Pols were forced to work in German factories both inside Poland and Germany.
Poland did create the Polish Highland Brigade after the fall of Poland in France. Also there were 2 Polish divisions that fought in France how they got there I don;t have a clue. Poland didnt have a puppet government like the French did which made things harder for the Germans.
If you want a brief description read the wikipedia entry I don't know how accurate it is but it will give you a general idea.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_con ... rld_War_II
I agree with Castelot but discussion it is better than forgetting about all the other nation that did not have the biggest part.
Before the end of the polish campaign large numbers of polish troops crossed the border into Romania.The romanian governement allowed them to continue their way to Lebanon from where they later got to France.
Actually Czechoslavkia's biggest contribution to the war would not have been the donation of a handful of pilot to the BoB, but the tens of thousands of Czechs and Slovaks who fought with the Red army (a substantial number when you consider the sparse population of Czechoslovakia) Despite this however, the Czechs could never have had the presence of the Poles whose forces serving on the eastern front totalled 400,000...
For detailed information on the compositon of Czechoslovak forces on the eastern front go to http://www.czechpatriots.com/csmu/intro.php
I was suprised to read that the 1st Czechoslovak independent brigade was armed with ten T-34/76 tanks as well as the same number of T-70's. For a small force of only ~3500 men that shows alot of trust the soviets had in them
Of course, the title of the topic is a bit provocative sorry for that
I do agree that it is hard to compare France - international power - to Poland.
As I said I came across that topic in a French forum but they did not deliver the exact data of French army contribution. Once again thank your warmly for that.
Still, I do thing that in 1944 the balance of power was dramaticly in favor of Allies, and it was much easier for the French to liberate their country, supply resistance, create new divisions, and last but not least to smash German garnison in the south. Remember there were only 9-10 months of war left.
I am deeply interested in Czechoslovak contribution in WWII, should anyone provide data i would be grateful.
An important czech contribution to the war certainly were the over 600 Skoda 35t and 38 t tanks the Wehrmacht used to conquer Poland and France.... :wink:
One might consider the efforts of the Polish mathematicians who helped crack the Enigma code.
Poland: 177 (6,6 %)
France: 362 (14 %)
Thanks for the numbers.
So in both campaigns there were more Skodas that PZKW III's?
I recall that in Fance there were around 350 PZKW 3.
As to the participation of Czekoslovakia in WW2, it is important to consider that actually the czechs fought on the allied side, fielding units on both eastern and western front, while the slovaks fought on the german side, sending 1 or 2 divisions to the eastern front.
87 Pz.Kpfw.IIIs and 192 Pz.Kpfw.IVs in Poland
349 Pz.Kpfw.IIIs and 280 Pz.Kpfw.IVs in France
more germans died in the warsaw upriseing than in the 1939 invasion?...this is amazing,how could this be....also its been said that stalin prompted the upriseing then let the germans kill all the polish fighters ...true?
Sadly, but true
Warsaw uprising 1944 is often confused with Warsaw getto uprasing in 1943, mainly because during the communist period the first was to be forgoten.
Indeed, Russians encouraged the Poles to uprise. They used the "Kosciuszko" radio to do it. Moreover they taken Prague(right side of the city) and there was only the river Vistula...Anyway the uprising would start even without those encouragement. In 1918 Poland regained the souvereignty after 123 year of partition between Russia, Germany and Austria. Years between 1918 -1939 were devoted to defend a new born country against Russians (war 1920-1921) and rejoin three parts of Poland into one. There were 3 legal systems, 3 cultural areas, 3 different economic areas, and all badly damaged by I WW. So you can imagine that every Pole would do everything in 1939 and later not to lose his homeland again...the culture of sacrifice was born.
Stalin ordered not to help Poles who were fighting for long 63 days, because they were connected with a legal gouvernement. He forbade allies planes to land on russian army airports. Afraid of revolt in "polish" part of his army he finally agreed to conduct restricted landing operation from the Prage. They suffered heavy losses, more men died than during attact on Monte Cassino by Polish II Army in 1944.
Allies did not do anything to put a pression on Stalin. Warsaw was destroyed by the Germans (90 proc of city building)by direct Hitlers order. 15 000 of Polish resistans died alongside with 200 000 civils!!!!!
The one adventage for the Europe was that Stalin stopped his army and he did not manage to push his army as far as possible towards the West as he planed ( only to the river Laba)
Today many Central European historians blame Roosvelt for his trust and misperception towards Stalin. He was the one who finally made the Stalin so strong at the end of the war.
I beleive they were involved in the plot to assasinate Rynherd Heydrich. Many Czeck civilians were murdered as reprisal.
Actually, as far as i know, only the Czechs in Great Britain were willing to see Heydrich killed. Until his assassination the Czechs had a rather safe living without prosecutions of civilians etc. So,the assassination of Heydrich and the following German retaliation were expected to make Czech resistance far more active than before.
Stalin whanted they uprising because it took German forces away from fighting him to fight the insurgents. Also he knew the Poles would lose so he got ride of the trouble raisers.