Germany Invades Poland

U.S. #909 – Flag of Poland from the Overrun Countries series.

On September 1, 1939, Germany launched a land, sea, and air invasion of Poland, marking the start of World War II.

Poland has a long and varied history. At one time, Poland ruled an empire that stretched across much of central Europe. In 1795, Poland was conquered and divided among Russia, Germany, and Austria. This brought an end to Poland’s centuries-old existence as a separate nation.

Germany #510 – Germany stamp picturing Hitler.

The Poles fought with Austria against the Russians in World War I. In 1917, a Polish National Committee was formed in Paris to win allied support for an independent Poland. Under the 1919 Treaty in Versailles, Poland regained large amounts of land from Germany. In 1921, the Russian Treaty of Riga established a border that gave back some of the Russian territory. The new Polish state faced many problems, but during the 1920s and 1930s, Poland slowly rebuilt its economy and developed uniform systems of government, transportation, and education.

Following the Treaty of Versailles, Germany, in turn, lost 13% of its territory and overseas colonies. The National Socialist (Nazi) party was formed in 1920 to unite workers against big business and draw them away from communism. In the midst of the Great Depression, Adolph Hitler was appointed Chancellor. He soon abolished parliament and became Führer, or “leader,” in 1934. Hitler began rearming his country, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles, and supporting a pure German nation within expanded borders.

Item #M2024 – Collection of 1,000 Poland stamps.

Hitler’s expansion began in 1938, with the annexation of Austria and continued with the occupation of Sudetenland and all of Czechoslovakia. These lands were taken without major fighting, and Hitler hoped the same would be true of Poland.

In August 1939, Germany signed a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union, to prevent them from coming the Poland’s aid. The pact also included a secret clause dividing Poland between the two nations.

Item #MCC891 – Collection of 2,414 Poland stamps with pages.

The invasion of Poland was planned for August 26, however the day before that Hitler learned that Britain had promised Poland military support if it was attacked. Hitler then ramped up his ongoing propaganda campaign against Poland, using a theme of aggression against Germany. Poland began to call up troops, but was encouraged by Britain and France to wait, in the hopes they could convince Germany not to wage war.

But Hitler’s mind was made up. On the afternoon of August 31, he sent Nazi troops in Polish uniforms to stage a fake invasion of Germany. They claimed this was an unforgivable act of aggression by the Polish and prepared to invade.

Poland #NB38 – 1944 Nazi occupation stamp.

The German attack commenced early the next morning, September 1, 1939, at 4:45 a.m. Some 1.5 million Nazi troops invaded Poland’s 1,750-mile shared border with Germany. At the same time, German Luftwaffe planes bombed Polish airfields while warships and U-boats fired on Poland’s naval forces in the Baltic Sea.

The next day, Britain and France threatened Germany to withdraw by September 3, or they would declare war. Germany refused and Britain declared war, followed by Australia, New Zealand, India, and France.

Poland #N79 – Poland stamp issued by the Nazi government during the occupation.

Meanwhile, in Poland, the Germany army advanced quickly, utilizing their blitzkrieg (“lightning war”) strategy. And the Luftwaffe continued to bomb not just airfields, but cities as well, inflicting civilian casualties. Though Poland had managed to raise an army of 1 million men, they were outmatched. Within a week, German troops traveled 140 miles and reached the outskirts of Warsaw. The defending Polish hoped to hold out long enough to launch their own offensive, but on September 17, Soviet forces invaded from the east, removing all hope of a Polish victory.

The Polish defenders held out until September 28, when they had no choice left but to surrender. Germany and the Soviet Union then split the country per their earlier agreement. During this time, Britain and France didn’t provide much for military aid to Poland. And in the coming months, only launched a few small attacks on German forces.   That changed in the spring of 1940 when Germany attacked Norway and France. And the following year Germany attacked the Soviet Union, breaking their nonaggression pact and capturing all of Poland. In the coming years, a large Polish resistance force was raised and fought against the occupying Germans. After suffering six million casualties during the nearly six-year occupation, Poland was liberated in May 1945.

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  1. History repeats! In your text above, I wonder what the reaction would be if we replaced the words ‘Hitler’ and ‘Poland’ and ‘Germany’, with the words ‘Nato’ and ‘Russia’ and nazi ‘Ukraine’ in the following excerpt: “Hitler then ramped up his ongoing propaganda campaign against ‘Poland’, using a theme of aggression against ‘Germany’ … an unforgivable act of aggression by ‘Poland’, and prepared to invade” What’s the next step? Fake claim of invasion of the Baltic countries? It’s time madness stops Mr Pentagon, with your big guns we all pay for with our taxes, while the Country is crumbling down. We are sick and tired of your war propaganda Ms Clinton. GdR

    1. The Russian takeover of the Crimea (pert of Ukraine) was no illusion. The Baltic
      countries are members of NATO for a reason. They were independent nations
      until 1940 when the Soviet Union annexed them to their country and made them
      part of the Soviet Union. They won their independence back in 1991/92 and Putin
      has his eye on them, Ukraine, Belarus and others as he tries to reform the old
      Soviet empire with him as the dictator. That we don’t need.

    2. History does seem to repeat, but not so exactly that lessons-learned are easy to apply. And your advices here, Dr. Des Rosiers, seem inappropriate in this space as well as lacking clarity.

    3. Dr. Gabriel Des Rosiers, I tried to make some sense of your paragraph, but the farther I read, the less sense it made. Mr. Pentagon?…Ms. Clinton?

  2. reading this makes you think that today history will repeat itself.. very sad that we all can get along. there is so much for everybody In this world to enjoy,

  3. A good historic lesson. I would encourage Mystic to only focus on American history stamps. If your organization thinks there is a need for foreign stamp opportunities, market them under another format. Such as a “World Day” in history, and not to put them into the current situation.
    Thank you.

    1. I disagree with Tom. In the 20th and 2st centuries, much of World history is a significant part of American history. The rise of Nazism and the invasion of Poland are perfect examples.

  4. Right on Mr LaBelle! We collect stamps- not bullshit propaganda.
    Where was the Doctor when America was supposedly going down- hitting a furry ball over the net?
    There are so many more great things happening in the world than the doctor’s illogical clarity about history and how the world works.
    thanks mystic

  5. Thank you Mr Snyder for your reprise, as it seems propaganda is working well for you. Over 87% of people in Crimea voted to rejoin Russia, which they never wanted to leave in the first place, and still want to remain so; unlike Hawaiians who did not want to join the USA, but were forced into it.

    And yes Mr Labelle, well pointed out as my comments were rather extreme (though not lacking clarity), and out of exasperation at the state of the world we live in today. Great stamp which at least reminded us how Poland did suffer at the hands of Nazi Germany (and Ukraine) during WW2; and perhaps we are due for another stamp showing how oppressed they were for 50 years under USSR dominion. GdR

  6. Sadly the first commentator has a distorted view of the current situation. There is a distinct plan from Mr Putin, and unless the West Via NATO stands by Article 5 of the NATO Charter, he will continue to push in the Ukraine and later the Baltic States. I know, I’ve been there!

  7. Excellent work Mystic! You kept your promise and answered the 3 requests that were made 1 year ago to cover this topic. Sept. 1, 2015’s topic was “The Titanic is Found ” on this date in 1985

  8. Your recounting of events leading up to Germany’s invasion of Poland is good, but if I remember my history, Germany’s expansion began when Hitler annexed the Rhineland in 1935.

  9. My error! According to Wikepedia, Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland in March 1936. That was the beginning of German expansion.

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