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Debunking Polish stereotypes: the cavalry charge against German tanks

Discussion in 'Prelude to War & Poland 1939' started by Spartanroller, Apr 28, 2011.

  1. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    The Poles simply lacked the numbers and equipment to withstand the Germans, add to that a late mobilization and a terrible battleplan (for political reasons they chose to defend the "corridor" but that left them too thin on the ground everywhere) and the result was a foregone conclusion. IMO the Germans were also pretty "green" in that campaign and made a number of costly tactical mistakes they got away with thanks to better C&C and mobility.
    In 1940 forces were roughly equal, but that's counting the Belgians and Dutch, so in 1939 the French didn't have global superiority but just a big temporary superiority when most of the Germans were busy east, 4:1 could be true for early September 1939 but while most German division west where from the high numbered "welle", so not at full stregth, French mobilization and moving forces from NA was a slow process. France was not WW1 Russia that time and again attacked at a bad time to relieve pressure west, leaving the (apparent) safety of the Maginot in order to help the Poles was out of the question, AFAIK the allied grand strategy was to defend on the ground and attrition Germany through blockade and aerial bombing.
     
  2. tomflorida

    tomflorida Member

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    I think it's very obvious. Lets see Poland lasted about 3 weeks while France lasted about 5 weeks. Poland had NO outside support while France had the Brits. Poland has something like 300-400 planes and about the same in tanks, while France had much more (so I dont have time to give you the exact numbers). France also had a lot more of other heavy armer (lets not get into the details, as we all know that France had MUCH many more weapoms and men). Lets also see, France already saw what Germany did to Poland and had "heads up" to prepare. Lets see, Germany was "fresh" when attacked Poland. France had the Maginot Line as line of defence, while Poland had no such, nor natural barriers. Poland also had the German Danzing. Ouh, did I forget that Poland was attacked by Russia from the East. Should I go on, or is it obvious yet. So ya, France only lasting a few weeks longer, was nothing short of disaster of performance. And I am pretty sure that Poland downed more German planes and tanks then France.
    As far as the Saar offensive, ha ha ha. You call that offensive? As a Pole I call that offensive in the other definitiom.
     
  3. tomflorida

    tomflorida Member

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    Because their peoples lives were on the line. If they did not realize that, then they were guilty of treason. Funny thing is, that many were.
     
  4. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    You said that you are pretty sure that Poland downed more German planes and tanks then France,but,you are wrong :
    German losses in may/june 1940 :150000 men,839 tanks and 1234 aircraft
    German losses in september 1939:50000 men,417 tanks,aircraft :unknown
    Other point :France had NO support from Britain ,the first British units arrived at the end of september
    The Germans had 16 divisions on the Saar,the French 12 (on 12 september)
    On 24 september,France had on the Nort East Front and the Jura (=from Dunkirk to the Swiss border) 56 divisions .
    On 1 september,the Germans had on the west front 34 divisions and a reserve of 12 ,while the French PLANNED a mobilisation of 41 divisions (in and outside France) for 9 september .
    About the Saar offensive :there was a French attack,or ,are you denying that the French were advancing on German territory ?
    The French had promised an offensive (before 17 september) with the majority of their available forces ,and they were keeping their promise.
    But,I know that people in Poland still are believing the myth that they were betrayed by the coward French .
     
  5. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    What happened east of the Rhine was no concern for France .
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    When I was helping Randy Roberts teach his WWII class at Purdue I made sure that he mentioned the myth was just that, a myth.
     
  7. ptimms

    ptimms Member

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    I can't agree TomFlorida, German tank losses are much higher in France. According to Jentz in Poland the Germans suffered the following total right offs.

    89 PzI's, 83 PzII's, 7 Pz38's, 7 Pz 35's, 26 PzIII's, 23 Pz IV's, 5 Pz Bef for a total of 240ish.

    In France it was:

    182 PzI;s, 240 PzII's, 54 Pz 38's, 62 Pz 35's, 135 Pz III's, 97 Pz IV's, 69 Pz Bef for a total of 799. So much more than Poland. Even if you look at losses in Poland before repairs rather than total right offs it's only just over 400.

    The Heer had 2859 Tanks in September 39 and 3465 at the end of May 1940 so there weren't even massively more tanks to take on France, Belgium, Holland and the UK than in '39 when they fought the Poles.

    Not sure on aircraft figures but I'm sure someone knows.
     
  8. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    No not childish at all...we are debating...all points are relevant. We have a few mentions of polish segregation laws enacted in 1937 from a few years back if anyone would like to search.

    But it would not be right to pass by Polands own Jewish laws pre ww2.



    ANTISEMITISM IN INTERWAR POLAND 1919-1939

    Few countries suffered more at the hands of Nazism than Poland. However, legacy of the war has helped many forget that Poland shared one very ugly similarity to Nazi Germany, official antisemitism. It must be made very clear that such policies in no way can be compared to the terrible crimes committed against the Jews by Hitler. Yet, it cannot be forgotten that interwar Poland had a very sorry record in terms of its treatment of its own Jewish minority.

    What follows below is a brief introduction to the subject of officially sanctioned antisemitism in Poland.

    Poland between the world wars was a state that the victorious Allied Powers had created in 1919 from parts of the defunct German, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian empires. The new Polish Republic included within its borders a number of ethnic minority groups, among which were Germans, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Slovaks, and roughly three million Jews. Polish authorities agreed to protect the civil rights of these non-Polish minorities by signing the so-called "Little Treaty of Versailles" (also known as the Minorities Treaty) on June 28, 1919. The historical record shows, however, that the "protection" offered by Polish authorities was very uneven, particularly after the death of Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, the first Polish president, in 1935.

    After 1935, Polish antisemitic political parties put increasing pressure on the government to pass legislation that would place restrictions on the social mobility of Polish Jews. These parties had been inspired by the example that the Nazis set in Germany with the passage of the Nuremberg Race Laws.

    THE KOSHER SLAUGHTERING BILL

    The first example of this legislation was a bill enacted into law on January 1, 1937. This bill placed limits on the practice of the kosher slaughtering of cattle by Orthodox Jews. This bill, historian Emanuel Melzer points out, allowed the Polish government "to regulate the supply of cattle to kosher slaughterers, and jurisdictions in which Jews numbered less than three percent of the total population were to be permitted to outlaw kosher slaughtering altogether."[1] This blatantly discriminatory bill struck directly at the heart of the religious practice of Poland's large number of Orthodox Jews. It also had a devastating effect on the economic well being of tens of thousands of Jewish butchers, their families, and their suppliers.

    LIMITING THE NUMBER OF JEWS IN PROFESSIONS

    From 1935 to 1939, antisemitic feeling in Poland gained in intensity. The impact of this development was to influence the adoption of measures by Polish professional organizations that excluded Jews. Here are only a few examples[2]:

    In August 1936, the Polish government ordered that all shops include the name of the owner on their business sign. This order was tantamount to specifically marking Jewish-owned businesses. Attacks on Jewish businesses surged after the marking order went into effect.
    In May 1937, the membership of the Polish Medical Association adopted a paragraph into their professional charter excluding Jews from the medical profession.
    Also in May 1937, the Polish Bar Association adopted a similar measure. This was followed by official state action in May 1938 restricting the ability of Jewish lawyers to attain licenses to practice law.
    In January 1938, the General Assembly of Journalists in the city of Wilno added a provision to its by-laws stating that anyone Jewish could not belong to their organization.
    In April 1938, the Bank Polski, the Polish state's largest financial institution, adopted a provision excluding Jews.
    Most importantly, in March 1938 the Polish government announced a new "Citizenship Law." This law stated that as of October 30, 1938, the passports of Polish citizens who had lived abroad for more than five years would be revoked if those citizens had not "maintained contact with the [home] country".[3] Although this law did not target Jews specifically, its effect had a dramatic impact on Jews who had lived outside of Poland. One such community of Jewish expatriates were the tens of thousands of Polish Jews residing in neighboring Germany. The Polish action would have effectively rendered these people "stateless" on German soil, making them a German problem. Nazi officials, particularly Heinrich Himmler, chief of the SS, and his subordinate, Reinhard Heydrich, had planned since earlier in the year to force Jews - particularly Polish Jews - to leave Germany. On October 28-29, the SS and Gestapo detained 15,000 Polish Jews and sent them over the German frontier into Poland. These refugees were turned back by Polish border guards and then interned in a refugee camp "between" Germany and Poland at Zbaszyn. There they languished under terrible conditions until Poland finally relented and allowed them to enter the country in 1939.[4]
     
  9. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    No not childish at all...we are debating...all points are relevant. We have a few mentions of polish segregation laws enacted in 1937 from a few years back if anyone would like to search.

    But it would not be right to pass by Polands own Jewish laws pre ww2.



    ANTISEMITISM IN INTERWAR POLAND 1919-1939

    Few countries suffered more at the hands of Nazism than Poland. However, legacy of the war has helped many forget that Poland shared one very ugly similarity to Nazi Germany, official antisemitism. It must be made very clear that such policies in no way can be compared to the terrible crimes committed against the Jews by Hitler. Yet, it cannot be forgotten that interwar Poland had a very sorry record in terms of its treatment of its own Jewish minority.

    What follows below is a brief introduction to the subject of officially sanctioned antisemitism in Poland.

    Poland between the world wars was a state that the victorious Allied Powers had created in 1919 from parts of the defunct German, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian empires. The new Polish Republic included within its borders a number of ethnic minority groups, among which were Germans, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Slovaks, and roughly three million Jews. Polish authorities agreed to protect the civil rights of these non-Polish minorities by signing the so-called "Little Treaty of Versailles" (also known as the Minorities Treaty) on June 28, 1919. The historical record shows, however, that the "protection" offered by Polish authorities was very uneven, particularly after the death of Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, the first Polish president, in 1935.

    After 1935, Polish antisemitic political parties put increasing pressure on the government to pass legislation that would place restrictions on the social mobility of Polish Jews. These parties had been inspired by the example that the Nazis set in Germany with the passage of the Nuremberg Race Laws.

    THE KOSHER SLAUGHTERING BILL

    The first example of this legislation was a bill enacted into law on January 1, 1937. This bill placed limits on the practice of the kosher slaughtering of cattle by Orthodox Jews. This bill, historian Emanuel Melzer points out, allowed the Polish government "to regulate the supply of cattle to kosher slaughterers, and jurisdictions in which Jews numbered less than three percent of the total population were to be permitted to outlaw kosher slaughtering altogether."[1] This blatantly discriminatory bill struck directly at the heart of the religious practice of Poland's large number of Orthodox Jews. It also had a devastating effect on the economic well being of tens of thousands of Jewish butchers, their families, and their suppliers.

    LIMITING THE NUMBER OF JEWS IN PROFESSIONS

    From 1935 to 1939, antisemitic feeling in Poland gained in intensity. The impact of this development was to influence the adoption of measures by Polish professional organizations that excluded Jews. Here are only a few examples[2]:

    In August 1936, the Polish government ordered that all shops include the name of the owner on their business sign. This order was tantamount to specifically marking Jewish-owned businesses. Attacks on Jewish businesses surged after the marking order went into effect.
    In May 1937, the membership of the Polish Medical Association adopted a paragraph into their professional charter excluding Jews from the medical profession.
    Also in May 1937, the Polish Bar Association adopted a similar measure. This was followed by official state action in May 1938 restricting the ability of Jewish lawyers to attain licenses to practice law.
    In January 1938, the General Assembly of Journalists in the city of Wilno added a provision to its by-laws stating that anyone Jewish could not belong to their organization.
    In April 1938, the Bank Polski, the Polish state's largest financial institution, adopted a provision excluding Jews.
    Most importantly, in March 1938 the Polish government announced a new "Citizenship Law." This law stated that as of October 30, 1938, the passports of Polish citizens who had lived abroad for more than five years would be revoked if those citizens had not "maintained contact with the [home] country".[3] Although this law did not target Jews specifically, its effect had a dramatic impact on Jews who had lived outside of Poland. One such community of Jewish expatriates were the tens of thousands of Polish Jews residing in neighboring Germany. The Polish action would have effectively rendered these people "stateless" on German soil, making them a German problem. Nazi officials, particularly Heinrich Himmler, chief of the SS, and his subordinate, Reinhard Heydrich, had planned since earlier in the year to force Jews - particularly Polish Jews - to leave Germany. On October 28-29, the SS and Gestapo detained 15,000 Polish Jews and sent them over the German frontier into Poland. These refugees were turned back by Polish border guards and then interned in a refugee camp "between" Germany and Poland at Zbaszyn. There they languished under terrible conditions until Poland finally relented and allowed them to enter the country in 1939.[4]
     
  10. tomflorida

    tomflorida Member

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    Thanks everyone for the figures above. BUT I still stand by my statement that Poland did better based on the others facts, such as attacked by two major powers, having less men and weapons, etc. And the major point that I am making that France only lasted a few weeks longer then Poland. Also if you compare how many tanks/planes/heavy weapons Poland had vs how many Poalnd destroyed and compare that with France, then the figures may be different.
     
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  11. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Ace

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    Agree with TomFlorida. Yes, the Polish army/air force was overrun in a matter of weeks. But considering the vast disparity in levels of technology, men, and material (outnumbered 10:1 by the Luftwaffe, I think I read in "A Question of Honor"), I think they did pretty damn good to hold out that long, much less inflict the damage that they did. I often wonder how different history would be had Britain and France had the means, manpower, and ...well....sheer balls to actually back up their treaties with Poland, and sent aid. WW2 might then have become not much more than another footnote in the history books.
     
  12. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Oh we had plenty of balls. As an empire with no real interest in Europe Britain did well to offer any one treaties meant to stop the tyrants. They didn't work of course and we then had to back up our entreaties with blood once again. But Europe in 1930's was as alien to the UK as it was to America. This was not the days of the European Union. We had little interest apart from how it might affect our own areas outside of Europe..As to balls, if America had stood by the League after ww1 it might have indeed been a different outcome. But then again what had Europe to do with America? The same I'm afrad for Britain..Doorstep meant nothing then as it does not today to many Brits where Europe is concerned. We had an empire in those days, rightly or wrongly, whether America approved, approves or not. Europe was as alien to Britain as it was to the USA. Our balls were to prove their merit. We kicked ours in a lot earlier than others as it happens.
     
  13. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Ace

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    Agreed. There were several agreements made (Yalta, and the....if my memory serves me...."September Agreement" or something like that, between Roosevelt and Churchill) in which the "Allies" royally screwed over Poland and other countries on Russia's borders. Every country has its dark moments that they would prefer to forget.
     
  14. tomflorida

    tomflorida Member

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    Thanks urgh for that post. Obviously many, if not most, nations had, and most still do, some Anti Semitic element. I still to this day can't understand why. I hold the Jewish culture to a high level of respect. I sure would feel safe walking through Jewish neirborhoods in NY city, while some of the other neirborhoods, well not so much.
    There is one statement that really bothers me in that article.
    "Poland between the world wars was a state that the victorious Allied Powers had created in 1919 from parts of the defunct German, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian empires."
    It's the created part. After being a nation ( and a large and powerful nation) for over 800 years, with it's own language, cutlure and history, it was divided up and did not exist for over 100 years. But to say created just bugs the hell out of me. Should have stated, reemerged or reestablished, but to say created, kind of insults me. Not to dwell on it, just saying how I feel.
     
  15. lost knight

    lost knight Member

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    Do nations have an inherent right to exist? Self-determination is a nice idea but can it work? History is full of states that were and now aren't.

    Exactly what would anyone want from the UK and France to do in 1939 to help Poland? How could they really have provided any help given the reality of geography? The inter-war treaties that the French and British created were an attempt to recreate the Triple Entente without a (precieved) weak and 'unpleasant' Soviet Russia. The idea was to create this from the collection of smaller countries formed in the Treaty of Versailles to help in case of war with Germany (a traditional French desire for an eastern ally going back to before the Revolution) and also to 'contain' the Communist threat. Their military strategy may or may not have been flawed (depending on you're view of the Maginot Line), but the diplomacy was clearly very wrong. The only country that could seriously help Poland was the Soviet Union. That was not about to happen, and given their showing in 1941 of questionable value anyway.

    The 4-1 figure cited as the allied advantage in 1939 on the Western front are, I think, those given byJodl and Keitel. They claimed a total of 25 divisions vs 110 Allied. But German Army Group C had 35, reinforced to 43 2/3 when war was declared. There were no British at all until October 3rd, on mobilization the French got 81 divisions (with 13 in the Maginot Line). But the French needed to station men on the Spanish and Italian frontiers. 14 were in North Africa. Given the slow mobilization there were only 30 divisions at the start of war to a grand total of 57 on Sept. 20th ( available). 52 Inf, 3 Cav, 2 light mechanized. From Sept 1-12 31 of these were tagged for the Saar.
     
  16. scipio

    scipio Member

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    Consider this - if Chamberlain had not offered the Treaty to Poland, Hitler would have still attacked and Poland would have been partitioned between Germany and Russia.


    Hitler would certainly have attacked Russia at some stage and probably sooner than later.


    Hitler may or may not have turned on France but surely not until he had destroyed Russia. At all times he was trying to separate out Britain (who he admired) from the rest and hoped for an accomodation with her.

    So just as in 1914 Great Britain went to war over the violation of neutrality of Belgium, it did the same in 1939 for Poland. In neither case did it "have to". It really was not not able to effect any immediate help to either country.

    However, by totally impoverishing itself and at the expense of many casualties, it did (with outside help) halt the complete subjugation of the Continent.


    As the previous poster have shown, there was little material assistance that either France or Britain could have given and whatever they did, Poland would still have gone under.

    It is a shame that Poland had to suffer Communism but I personally believe that Poland, ship workers of Gdansk/Gdynia and Lec Wojlkenska (sorry spelling is wrong but you know who I mean) should be given hero status.

    In my book they are the guys with guts on the ground who overthrew Communism.
     
  17. Domen121

    Domen121 Member

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    The Polish problem was not "cavalry charging tanks" but unfinished concentration of forces (my map below = 1 September, early morning):

    View attachment 15347

    Plus some of these divisions were not yet fully mobilized (especially reserve ones like 39th for example) but I didn't mark it yet on the map.
     

    Attached Files:

  18. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    The Polish Army of 1939 was up against a superior technological force and really stood no chance-no disgrace here; the French, English, Norweigans, Danes, Russians, Greeks, Serbians, etc etc and etc all were ripped apart by the Wehrmacht. It's what happened after the defeat that puts Poland on the map-unstinting resistance against the occupier, Polish soldiers in the West and East, and the passing of ULTRA intell to the Brits. My favorite author-Sir Max Hastings-has good things to say about Poland and the Polish people in his reading of the evidence; Amazon.com: Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 (9780307273598): Max Hastings: Books
    JeffinMNUSA
     
  19. Domen121

    Domen121 Member

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    Superior technological and also numerical (as can be seen from the map I posted - BTW I plan to create similar situation maps for each day of the campaign).

    ==================================================

    I recently translated such an account from Hadamowsky's "Blitzmarsch nach Warschau" (pages 175 - 179) - on combats near Nowogrod at the Narew (battle for fortifications at Nowogrod is often considered as one of fiercest battles of the campaign, even though it was by no means a large or a very long battle):

    German strengthened (by non-divisional artillery & Luftwaffe) 21st Infantry Division fought against one strengthened Polish infantry battalion there:

    "Soon after capturing Pultusk and Rozan German air and ground armed forces proceeded to a joint action along a more northern section of the Narew. Heavy bombers and dive bombers drove the enemy away from their positions in the open field of the Nowogrod at the Narew's bridgehead. The Polish defenders withdrew and established further defence partially in buildings of Nowogrod and partially in blokhauzes behind the Narew.

    When East-Prussian forces reached the northern bank, what they saw on the steep southern bank were Polish blokhauzes. To conduct an assault German infantry had to run down from the northern bank to the water level, cross the Narew in rubber boats, storm the sandy altitudes of the southern bank, and then deal with blokhauzes.

    The fight was heavy and ferocious. This position, decisive for the outflanking of Warsaw, was holding even harder and longer than lines of blokhauzes at the Mlawa. Heavy batteries of Anti-Aircraft artillery arrived at the first German line and opened fire, aiming at little armored domes of enemy fortifications. Diameter of each dome was just 1 m and height was 1/2 m. Such tiny objects were the targets. Each grenade was hitting the target within a finger's width from others, until finally one of them was piercing the little dome and tearing the defenders inside apart. Then was the time for the bloody work of infantry to begin, which was crossing the river with contempt of death. Polish blokhauzes opened flanking fire from those of the tiny domes, which had not been destroyed yet. When the regiment got to the opposite bank, it received so heavy fire that it was repeatedly and with heavy losses repulsed.

    Each of Polish blokhauzes was commanded by an officer. The crew numbered from 3 to 6 men. Armament consisted of machine guns and here and there some quick-firing cannons. At a place of the German crossing a crew abandoned the nearest blokhauz, but more to the east in the next blokhauz its crew defended it with fierce madness. That particular blokhauz, built-in an old bridge dike, had to be neutralized with flanking fire of Anti-Aircraft guns at side loopholes. A grenade destroyed its armored doom and torn to shreds part of its crew, but those who survived continued to resist and they could not be forced to silence by artillery. Grenade after grenade was exploding on a concrete wall, unable to pierce it, eventually pioneers and infantry jointly detonated the iron armor-plated doors. However, the defenders continued to resist and were killed only after hand-to-hand combat. Near the blokhauzes they found their modest soldierly grave, marked with a wooden cross and a Polish helmet.

    The third blokhauz, located more to the east, resisted so long and fiercely, until a grenade of a quick-firing AA gun hit the loophole and exploded inside the blokhauz with terrible power. The iron armor-plated doors leading to the neighbouring interval, torn out of the hinges and twisted, were thrown by explosion to the bedroom of the crew. Straw in the bedroom started to burn, fire rapidly expanded inside the blokhauz. When we entered, a brave defender lied crosswise the armored doors, as a black, charred mass."


    Armored dome of one of Polish blokhauzes at Nowogrod (after the battle):

    [​IMG]

    I remember I saw a photo of such a grave near a blokhauz in the net (and it was described as Nowogrod).

    ================================================

    "Skarpa" blokhauz after the battle:

    [​IMG]

    A Polish veteran of the battle who became a POW in this battle (rifleman J. Karwowski) said, while commenting events which took place after capitulation of the crew of "Skarpa" blokhauz:

    "Those damn Germans climbed on the blokhauzes and were taking photos of each other. They were pissing on the blokhauzes, and there, inside the blokhauzes, were dead people!"

    Yeap.

    But with more reasonable High Command and / or lack of Soviet invasion the defeat could have been less painful & the campaign itself could have been much longer.
     
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  20. Domen121

    Domen121 Member

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    Ups, the image of "Skarpa" blokhauz somehow disappeared...

    I was trying to find that photo, but I found another interesting photo (POWs from a captured blokhauz):

    [​IMG]

    Cpt. E. Kordiaczyński - commander of the 4th company of KOP "Osowiec" battalion, soldiers of which were the crews of blokhauzes at Nowogrod (KIA in 1939 in unknown circumstances, probably while repulsing a Stuka air attack):

    [​IMG]

    Video showing the town of Nowogrod (or rather - what left of it) after the end of combats, artillery bombardments & Luftwaffe air attacks:

    Nowogród nad Narwi

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2WSwsE88VE[/youtube]
     

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