World War II and World War II in numbers continue with the discussion of Blitzkrieg.
A group of men snuck across the Polish border. Their job was to seize a railroad junction in the mountains. This was going to be the first step in invading Poland. However, the attack was delayed and the Polish guards caught these men. Hitler denied everything about their plans and the Polish government believed. However, five days later the Nazis invaded Germany and after the invasion started, the Polish army blew up the railroad depot.
The speed at which the Germans came shocked the Polish. What was going on was the lightning war. 1.5 million German troops were massed on the Polish border. It was the largest massing of troops since World War I. The rest of Europe wanted to avoid another World War. With the Polish nation under attack and the European powers had no choice. The Royal Air Force took to the sky to dump leaflets over Germany telling them that their leaders were going to inflict misery on the people. The French also invaded Germany for five days and then retreated. These were merely symbolic gestures.
The British and French armies wanted time to prepare for war. The Poles were left on their own to fight. The Polish army was the fourth largest army in Europe and they would try to fight back against the Germans. However, the Germans were better equipped and had more technology. This advantage played into the Germans’ hands and allowed them to move with lightning speed across Poland.
The Blitzkrieg Strategy stuck terror throughout the world. The Germans would punch a hole into the enemy line and then bring in the tanks to surround the enemy and surround them. The Germans used their tanks as shock weapons. The Panzer Tanks were very capable of handling the Polish Army. Still at the start of the lightning war, the Germans were still relying on horses to transport heavy armor. The German Army used more horses in World War II than they did in World War I.
The Polish Army fell back to Warsaw to wait for the Allied Defense. However, they received a shock. The Germans signed a non-aggression agreement with the Soviets. Stalin then marched his army into Poland and seized control of half of Poland. Warsaw finally had to surrender. The Western powers allowed it to happen.
Once in control, the Nazis started to murder thousands of Poles. This was going to be a different kind of war. Five hundred thirty-one Polish towns were raised and thousands of civilians were murdered. At the end of the war, 17% of the Polish people were killed. Thousands more escaped and would join up with the British Army to start their own divisions to liberate Poland.
The French were extremely reluctant to go to war. The trauma of the first war still lived in their memory. To prevent this, the French-built tunnels and defenses along the German borders. They just worked to keep the Germans out. When this series of defenses came to Belgium, the Belgians refused to let them build the defenses citing it would violate their neutrality.
Hitler turned his attention toward Norway. He would use the Norwegian coastline to launch his U-Boat fleet. The British sent a token defense to Norway but Norway would fall to the Nazis. This invasion finally forced Neville Chamberlain to resign which would clear the way for Winston Churchill. What would happen during this war? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out.
The interesting section in this documentary was the invasion of Finland, which is something I have never heard about. Otherwise this is one episode to skip in the classroom.
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