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Battle of Łódź (1939)

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Battle of Łódź
Part of Invasion of Poland
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2008-0922-502, Lodz, Einzug deutscher Truppen.jpg
German troops in Łódź
DateSeptember 6–8, 1939
Location
Result German victory
Belligerents
 Germany  Poland
Commanders and leaders
Nazi Germany Gerd von Rundstedt Second Polish Republic Juliusz Rómmel
Strength
Unknown Unknown.
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The Battle of Łódź was fought on September 6–8, 1939, between the armies of Poland and Nazi Germany in World War II during the Invasion of Poland. The Polish forces were led by General Juliusz Rómmel.

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Poland

Poland

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative provinces called voivodeships, covering an area of 312,696 km2 (120,733 sq mi). Poland has a population of 37.7 million and is the fifth-most populous member state of the European Union. Warsaw is the nation's capital and largest metropolis. Other major cities include Kraków, Wrocław, Łódź, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.

Nazi Germany

Nazi Germany

Nazi Germany was the German state between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party controlled the country, transforming it into a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany quickly became a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. The Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", alluded to the Nazi claim that Nazi Germany was the successor to the earlier Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and German Empire (1871–1918). The Third Reich, which Hitler and the Nazis referred to as the Thousand-Year Reich, ended in May 1945 after just 12 years when the Allies defeated Germany, ending World War II in Europe.

World War II

World War II

World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global conflict that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries, including all of the great powers, fought as part of two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. Many participants threw their economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind this total war, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. Aircraft played a major role, enabling the strategic bombing of population centres and the only two nuclear weapons ever used in war.

Invasion of Poland

Invasion of Poland

The invasion of Poland was a joint attack on the Republic of Poland by Nazi Germany, the Slovak Republic, and the Soviet Union; which marked the beginning of World War II. The German invasion began on 1 September 1939, one week after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union, and one day after the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union had approved the pact. The Soviets invaded Poland on 17 September. The campaign ended on 6 October with Germany and the Soviet Union dividing and annexing the whole of Poland under the terms of the German–Soviet Frontier Treaty. The invasion is also known in Poland as the September campaign or 1939 defensive war and known in Germany as the Poland campaign.

Juliusz Rómmel

Juliusz Rómmel

Juliusz Karol Wilhelm Józef Rómmel was a Polish military commander, a general of the Polish Armed Forces.

Prelude

The German aggression was anticipated by the Poles from the spring of 1939, when Poland refused to join the Axis against the Soviet Union (see Polish Soviet War of 1919-1920). Poland’s strategy during the forecasted war would be to withstand the initial German attack and trigger France and Great Britain to declare war on Germany, and, afterwards, to execute a fighting retreat to the Romanian Bridgehead. Polish General Juliusz Rómmel was given command of the Łódź Army and to buy time to finish the mobilization of his own army, he led three divisions in the direction of the border. He believed that only through mobility and continuous resistance ("fighting for every village"), the German advance could be slowed enough to finish mobilization of his own army. The headquarters of the army were in the city of Łódź. The reason for the late mobilization was pressure from the French and the British not to mobilize. As of 29 August 1939, the Poles re—started the mobilization against advice from Paris and London (see Jabłonków Incident, 25 August 1939).

Germany's political blunder

The German Army attacked on September 1, 1939. Given their overwhelming military superiority in terms of numbers and equipment, and the strategic advantage of having the Poles surrounded on three sides (West from mainland Germany, North from East Prussia and South from the former Czechoslovakia), they hoped for a quick and relatively bloodless victory. Some modern historians repudiate the idea that the Blitzkrieg was first used in the invasion of Poland (see Invasion of Poland § Misconceptions). Adolf Hitler thought the French and British military leaders were incapable of even pushing the pencil to declare war in the event of Germany invading Poland. He was wrong. On September 3, 1939, both countries declared war on Germany, but they failed to provide any meaningful support (see Western betrayal), and the only Allied attack (the Saar Offensive) did not result in any diversion of German troops.

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Blitzkrieg

Blitzkrieg

Blitzkrieg is a word used to describe a surprise attack using a rapid, overwhelming force concentration that may consist of armored and motorized or mechanized infantry formations, together with close air support, that has the intent to break through the opponent's lines of defense, then dislocate the defenders, unbalance the enemy by making it difficult to respond to the continuously changing front, and defeat them in a decisive Vernichtungsschlacht: a battle of annihilation.

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician who was dictator of Germany from 1933 until his death in 1945. He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming the chancellor in 1933 and then taking the title of Führer und Reichskanzler in 1934. During his dictatorship, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland on 1 September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust: the genocide of about six million Jews and millions of other victims.

Western betrayal

Western betrayal

Western betrayal is the view that the United Kingdom, France, and sometimes the United States failed to meet their legal, diplomatic, military, and moral obligations with respect to the Czechoslovak and Polish states during the prelude to and aftermath of World War II. It also sometimes refers to the treatment of other Central and Eastern European states at the time.

Saar Offensive

Saar Offensive

The Saar Offensive was a French invasion of Saarland, Germany, in the first stages of World War II, from 7 to 16 September 1939. The original plans called for 40 divisions, and one armored division, three mechanised divisions, 78 artillery regiments and 40 tank battalions to assist Poland, which was then under invasion, by attacking Germany's neglected western front. Despite 30 divisions advancing to the border, the attack did not have the expected result. When the swift victory in Poland allowed Germany to reinforce its lines with homecoming troops, the offensive was halted. French forces then withdrew amid a German counter-offensive on 17 October.

The taking of Łódź: the Polish blunder

After the initial ambushes worked (Battle of Mokra), the Germans gained momentum and easily defeated the rear units of the Łódź Army (still in the process of mobilization). Łódź had fallen. The three divisions sent to the border were cut off and ceased to exist. This created a domino effect. Because Łódź had fallen, the victorious tank brigade and the supporting infantry soldiers had to withdraw from Piotrkow Trybunalski. This exposed the flank of the Kraków Army and they and the fully mechanized 10th Cavalry Brigade of Stanislaw Maczek had to head towards Lviv. This withdrawal from southwestern Poland in turn forced a withdrawal from northern Poland and left units under the de facto command of General Kutrzeba (Battle of Bzura river) stranded west of the Vistula river. Even the units that did successfully withdraw, for the most part, did not reach either the Romanian Bridgehead nor the Hungarian border crossing because on September 17, 1939, Soviet troops took over that very bridgehead and cut off the routes of escape. Only 60,000 to 80,000 Polish soldiers escaped German, Soviet, or Slovak capture or the need to hide to continue the fight as underground soldiers.

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Battle of Mokra

Battle of Mokra

The Battle of Mokra took place on 1 September 1939 near the village of Mokra, 5 km north of Kłobuck and 23 km north-west of Częstochowa, Poland. It was one of the first battles of the Invasion of Poland, during the Second World War, and was one of the few Polish victories of that campaign and the first German defeat of the conflict.

Domino effect

Domino effect

A domino effect or chain reaction is the cumulative effect generated when a particular event triggers a chain of similar events. This term is best known as a mechanical effect and is used as an analogy to a falling row of dominoes. It typically refers to a linked sequence of events where the time between successive events is relatively small. It can be used literally or metaphorically. The term domino effect is used both to imply that an event is inevitable or highly likely, and conversely to imply that an event is impossible or highly unlikely.

Lviv

Lviv

Lviv is the largest city in western Ukraine, and the sixth-largest in Ukraine, with a population of 717,273 . It serves as the administrative centre of Lviv Oblast and Lviv Raion, and is one of the main cultural centres of Ukraine. It was named in honour of Leo, the eldest son of Daniel, King of Ruthenia.

Vistula

Vistula

The Vistula is the longest river in Poland and the ninth-longest river in Europe, at 1,047 kilometres in length. The drainage basin, reaching into three other nations, covers 193,960 km2 (74,890 sq mi), of which 168,868 km2 (65,200 sq mi) is in Poland.

Romanian Bridgehead

Romanian Bridgehead

The Romanian Bridgehead was an area in southeastern Poland that is now located in Ukraine. During the invasion of Poland in 1939 at the start of the Second World War), the Polish commander-in-chief, Marshal of Poland Edward Rydz-Śmigły, ordered all Polish troops fighting east of the Vistula to withdraw towards Lwów and then to the hills along the borders with Romania and the Soviet Union on 14 September. After the Soviets attacked on 17 September, Rydz-Śmigły ordered all units to withdraw to Romania and Hungary, but communications had become disrupted although smaller units crossed outside the major battles.

Polish counterattack

The Germans advanced too fast for the units of the Polish Army to be in a position to counterattack, or for other armies to encircle the Germans by forcing their spear heads into a small narrow corridor between Łódź and Warsaw. The only major Polish offensive action occurred during the Battle of Bzura river marshes also known as the Battle of Kutno (township).

Aftermath

All of Poland fell completely under the control of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and the Slovak Republic on October 6, 1939. By 1940 the city of Łódź was renamed Litzmannstadt and became an important industrial city for the German war machine. Munitions and uniforms were manufactured in the newly established Ghetto Litzmannstadt by Jewish slave labor. Jews from Poland, Germany, Benelux and Czechoslovakia as well as Roma people from Austria were brought to live and work there in appalling conditions. While most of them were taken for extermination in the Nazi death camps, more than 70,000 survived until the summer of 1944. But the Soviet move forward stopped and in August 1944 those survivors were also killed by the Nazis. At the end of the war Łódź was taken by the Soviet Army on January 17, 1945, without substantial damage to the city. Only 877 Jews survived to the moment of liberation. Tens of thousands of ethnic Poles were expelled from the city. In 1939, at least 10,000 Poles were expelled. A concentration camp was built for the children of the ethnic Poles. Later, the dwellings of the Poles were taken over by the ethnic Germans from the Soviet Union. 300,000 Jews and 120,000 ethnic Poles died during the Nazi occupation.

Source: "Battle of Łódź (1939)", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Łódź_(1939).

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External links
  • John Radzilowski; C. Peter Chen, Invasion of Poland: 1 Sep 1939 - 6 Oct 1939, ww2db.com, retrieved 2008-02-17

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