The Wehrmacht was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1946. It consisted of the Heer, the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe, after the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, one of Adolf Hitler’s most overt and audacious moves was to establish the Wehrmacht, a modern armed forces fully capable of offensive use. In December 1941, Hitler designated himself as commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht, the Wehrmacht formed the heart of Germany’s politico-military power. In the early part of World War II, Hitlers generals employed the Wehrmacht through innovative combined arms tactics to devastating effect in what was called a Blitzkrieg, the Wehrmachts new military structure, unique combat techniques, newly developed weapons, and unprecedented speed and brutality crushed their opponents. Closely cooperating with the SS, the German armed forces committed war crimes and atrocities. By the time the war ended in Europe in May 1945, only a few of the Wehrmacht’s upper leadership were tried for war crimes, despite evidence suggesting that more were involved in illegal actions.
The German term Wehrmacht generically describes any nations armed forces, for example, the Frankfurt Constitution of 1848 designated all German military forces as the German Wehrmacht, consisting of the Seemacht and the Landmacht. In 1919, the term Wehrmacht appears in Article 47 of the Weimar Constitution, establishing that, from 1919, Germanys national defense force was known as the Reichswehr, a name that was dropped in favor of Wehrmacht on 21 May 1935. In January 1919, after World War I ended with the signing of the armistice of 11 November 1918, in March 1919, the national assembly passed a law founding a 420, 000-strong preliminary army, the Vorläufige Reichswehr. The terms of the Treaty of Versailles were announced in May, the army was limited to one hundred thousand men with an additional fifteen thousand in the navy. The fleet was to consist of at most six battleships, six cruisers, submarines and heavy artillery were forbidden and the air-force was dissolved. A new post-war military, the Reichswehr, was established on 23 March 1921, General conscription was abolished under another mandate of the Versailles treaty.
The Reichswehr was limited to 115,000 men, and thus the armed forces, under the leadership of Hans von Seeckt, though Seeckt retired in 1926, the army that went to war in 1939 was largely his creation. Germany was forbidden to have an air-force by the Versailles treaty and these officers saw the role of an air-force as winning air-superiority and strategic bombing and providing ground support. That the Luftwaffe did not develop a strategic bombing force in the 1930s was not due to a lack of interest, but because of economic limitations. The leadership of the Navy led by Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, officers who believed in submarine warfare led by Admiral Karl Dönitz were in a minority before 1939. By 1922, Germany had begun covertly circumventing the conditions of the Versailles Treaty, a secret collaboration with the Soviet Union began after the treaty of Rapallo. Major-General Otto Hasse traveled to Moscow in 1923 to further negotiate the terms, Germany helped the Soviet Union with industrialization and Soviet officers were to be trained in Germany
A war crime is an act that constitutes a serious violation of the law of war that gives rise to individual criminal responsibility. The concept of war crimes emerged at the turn of the century when the body of customary international law applicable to warfare between sovereign states was codified. Moreover, trials in national courts during this period further helped clarify the law, following the end of World War II, major developments in the law occurred. Numerous trials of Axis war criminals established the Nuremberg principles, such as notion that war crimes constituted crimes defined by international law, the Geneva Conventions in 1949 defined new war crimes and established that states could exercise universal jurisdiction over such crimes. The trial of Peter von Hagenbach by an ad hoc tribunal of the Holy Roman Empire in 1474 was the first international war crimes trial, and of command responsibility. He was convicted and beheaded for crimes that he as a knight was deemed to have a duty to prevent, although he had argued that he was only following orders.
In 1654 a Major Connaught was tried at Chester Assizes and hanged for his part in the massacre of villagers in the church at the village of Boughton, twelve villagers were smoked out, stripped naked and had their throats cut. He was hanged at the scene of the crime having been convicted of striking a blow to the head of John Fowler with an axe. The Geneva Conventions are four related treaties adopted and continuously expanded from 1864 to 1949 that represent a legal basis, states retain different codes and values with regard to wartime conduct. Some signatories have routinely violated the Geneva Conventions in a way which either uses the ambiguities of law or political maneuvering to sidestep the laws formalities and principles. Three conventions were revised and expanded with the one added in 1949, First Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded. Second Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, third Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.
Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Protocol II relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts. Protocol III relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem, a small number of German military personnel of the First World War were tried in 1921 by the German Supreme Court for alleged war crimes. The modern concept of war crime was further developed under the auspices of the Nuremberg Trials based on the definition in the London Charter that was published on August 8,1945. Along with war crimes the charter defined crimes against peace and crimes against humanity, on July 1,2002, the International Criminal Court, a treaty-based court located in The Hague, came into being for the prosecution of war crimes committed on or after that date. Several nations, most notably the United States, Russia, the United States still participates as an observer. Article 12 of the Rome Statute provides jurisdiction over the citizens of non-contracting states in the event that they are accused of committing crimes in the territory of one of the state parties
Vitebsk or Vitsebsk, is a city in Belarus. The capital of the Vitebsk Region, in 2004 it had 342,381 inhabitants and it is served by Vitebsk Vostochny Airport and Vitebsk air base. Vitebsk developed from a harbor where the Vitba River flows into the larger Western Dvina. Archaeological research indicates that at the mouth of Vitba there were settlements by Baltic tribes, according to the Chronicle of Michael Brigandine, Vitebsk was founded by Princess Olga of Kiev in 974. Other versions give 947 or 914, academician Boris Rybakov and historian Leonid Alekseyev, based on the chronicles, have come to the conclusion that Princess Olga of Kiev could have established Vitebsk in 947. Leonid Alekseyev suggested that the chroniclers, moving the date from the account of the Byzantine era to a new era, got the year 947, but mistakenly written in copying manuscripts 974. In the 12th and 13th centuries Vitebsk was the capital of the Principality of Vitebsk, in 1320 the city was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as a dowry of the Princess Maria, the first wife of Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas.
By 1351 the city had erected a stone Upper and Lower Castle, in 1410 Vitebsk participated in the Battle of Grunwald. In 1597, the townsfolk of Vitebsk were privileged with Magdeburg rights, the rights were taken away in 1623 after the citizens revolted against the imposed Union of Brest and killed Archbishop Josaphat Kuntsevych. During the First Partition of Poland in 1772, Vitebsk was annexed by the Russian Empire, under the Russian Empire the historic centre of Vitebsk was rebuilt with Neoclassical architecture. By World War II, Vitebsk had a significant Jewish population, according to Russian census of 1897, out of the population of 65,900. The most famous of its Jewish natives was the painter Marc Chagall, in 1924, it was returned to the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. During World War II, the city was under Nazi Germany occupation, much of the old city was destroyed in the ensuing battles between the Germans and the Red Army soldiers. Most of the local Jews perished in the Vitebsk Ghetto massacre, in the first postwar five-year period the city was rebuilt.
In the structure of its industrial complex stands machinery and light industry, in 1959, a TV tower was commissioned and started broadcasting the 1st Central Television program. In the same year during excavations on the Liberation Square, a scroll was found dating from the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries. It read, From Stpana to Nezhilovi, also, if hast sold trousers, buy me rye for 6 hryvnia. And if some didst not sold, send to my person, and if thou hast sold, do good to buy rye for me In January 1991, Vitebsk celebrated the first Marc Chagall Festival
The Iron Cross was a military decoration in the Kingdom of Prussia, and in the German Empire and Nazi Germany. It was established by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia in March 1813 backdated to the birthday of his late wife Queen Louise on 10 March 1813 during the Napoleonic Wars, Louise was the first person to receive this decoration. The recommissioned Iron Cross was awarded during the Franco-Prussian War, World War I, the Iron Cross was normally a military decoration only, though there were instances of it being awarded to civilians for performing military functions. The design of the symbol was black with a white or silver outline. It was ultimately derived from the cross pattée occasionally used by the Teutonic Order from the 13th century, the black cross patty was used as the symbol of the German Army from 1871 to March/April 1918, when it was replaced by the Balkenkreuz. In 1956, it was re-introduced as the symbol of the Bundeswehr, the Black Cross is the emblem used by the Prussian Army, and by the army of Germany from 1871 to present.
It was designed on the occasion of the German Campaign of 1813, from this time, the Black Cross featured on the Prussian war flag alongside the Black Eagle. The design is due to neoclassical architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, based on a sketch by Frederick William, the design is ultimately derivative of the black cross used by the Teutonic Order. This heraldic cross took various forms throughout the history, including a simple Latin cross. When the Quadriga of the Goddess of Peace was retrieved from Paris at Napoleons fall, an Iron Cross was inserted into her laurel wreath, making her into a Goddess of Victory. The Black Cross was used on the naval and war flags of the German Empire, the Black Cross was used as the symbol of the German Army until 1915, when it was replaced by a simpler Balkenkreuz. The Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic, the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany, the traditional design in black is used on armored vehicles and aircraft, while after German reunification, a new design in blue and silver was introduced for use in other contexts.
The ribbon for the 1813,1870 and 1914 Iron Cross was black with two white bands, the colors of Prussia. The non-combatant version of this award had the same medal, but the black, the ribbon color for the 1939 EKII was black/white/red/white/black. Since the Iron Cross was issued several different periods of German history. For example, an Iron Cross from World War I bears the year 1914, the reverse of the 1870,1914 and 1939 series of Iron Crosses have the year 1813 appearing on the lower arm, symbolizing the year the award was created. The 1813 decoration has the initials FW for King Frederick William III, the final version shows a swastika. There was the 1957 issue, a replacement medal for holders of the 1939 series which substituted an oak-leaf cluster for the banned swastika
High Command Trial
The High Command Trial, known initially as Case No. 12, and as Case No,72, was the last of the twelve trials for war crimes the U. S. authorities held in their occupation zone of Germany in Nuremberg after the end of World War II. These twelve trials were all held before U. S. military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal, but took place in the same rooms at the Palace of Justice. The twelve U. S. trials are known as the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials or, more formally. The accused in this trial were high-ranking generals of the German Wehrmacht and they were charged with having participated in or planned or facilitated the execution of the numerous war crimes and atrocities committed in countries occupied by the German forces during the war. The judges in case, heard before Military Tribunal V-A, were the American John C. The Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution was Telford Taylor, the indictment was filed on November 28,1947, the trial lasted from December 30 that year until October 28,1948.
Of the 14 defendants indicted, two were acquitted on all counts, johannes Blaskowitz committed suicide during the trial. The remaining defendants received sentences ranging from three years including time served to lifetime imprisonment. The accused faced four charges of having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, Crimes against peace by waging war against other nations. War crimes by being responsible for murder, ill-treatment and other crimes against prisoners of war, Crimes against humanity by participating or ordering the murder, deportation, hostage-taking, etc. of civilians in military-occupied countries. Participating and organizing the formulations and execution of a common plan, all defendants were indicted on all counts, they all pleaded not guilty. Count 4 of the indictment—the conspiracy charge—was soon dropped by the tribunal because it was covered by the other charges. The accused were, with respect to each charge, either indicted but not convicted or indicted and found guilty, as listed below by defendant, all sentences included time already served in custody since April 7,1945.
They denied the facts found by the U. S. judges, extolled the defense of obedience to superior orders, particularly active were the Protestant and Catholic churches. After the emergence of the Federal Republic, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, German leverage increased as the urgency of rearming Germany grew. Under these intense pressures, in 1950, U. S, after further proceedings by mixed commissions composed of Allied and German members, the last of the High Command defendants returned home in 1953. Command responsibility Subsequent Nuremberg Trials Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals, hitlers Generals on Trial, The Last War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremberg
The operation formed part of the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad, and was aimed at destroying German forces in and around Stalingrad. Planning for Operation Uranus had commenced in September 1942, and was developed simultaneously with plans to envelop and destroy German Army Group Center and these Axis armies lacked heavy equipment to deal with Soviet armor. The situation was exacerbated by the German decision to relocate several mechanized divisions from the Soviet Union to Western Europe, units in the area were depleted after months of fighting, especially those which took part in the fighting in Stalingrad. In comparison, the Red Army deployed over one million personnel for the purpose of beginning the offensive in, Soviet troop movements were not without problems, due to the difficulties of concealing their build-up, and to Soviet units commonly arriving late due to logistical issues. Operation Uranus was first postponed from 8 to 17 November, to 19 November, at 07,20 Moscow time on 19 November, Soviet forces on the northern flank of the Axis forces at Stalingrad began their offensive, forces in the south began on 20 November.
By late 22 November Soviet forces linked up at the town of Kalach, instead of attempting to break out of the encirclement, German dictator Adolf Hitler decided to keep Axis forces in Stalingrad and resupply them by air. In the meantime and German commanders began to plan their next movements, on 28 June 1942, the Wehrmacht began its offensive against Soviet forces opposite of Army Group South, codenamed Case Blue. After breaking through Red Army forces by 13 July, German forces encircled and captured the city of Rostov. The responsibility to take Stalingrad was given to the Sixth Army, the following day, the Battle of Stalingrad began when vanguards of the Sixth Army penetrated the suburbs of the city. By November the Sixth Army had occupied most of Stalingrad, pushing the defending Red Army to the banks of the Volga River, the German command was intent upon finalizing its capture of Stalingrad. Ultimately, command of Soviet efforts to relieve Stalingrad was put under the leadership of General Aleksandr Vasilevsky, Operation Uranus involved the use of large Soviet mechanized and infantry forces to encircle German and other Axis forces directly around Stalingrad.
For example, in early July the Sixth Army was defending a 160-kilometer line, Army Group B had the 48th Panzer Corps, which had the strength of a weakened panzer division, and a single infantry division as reserves. For the most part the German flanks were held by arriving non-German Axis armies, while German forces were used to spearhead continued operations in Stalingrad, their 37-millimeter PaK anti-tank guns were antiquated and they were largely short of ammunition. Only after repeated requests did the Germans send the Romanian units 75-millimeter PaK guns, the Italians and Hungarians were positioned at the Don west of the Third Romanian Army, but the German commanders did not hold in high regard the capability of those units to fight. The Sixth Army had suffered casualties during the fighting in the city of Stalingrad proper. In some cases, such as that of the 22nd Panzer Division, German formations were overextended along large stretches of front, the XI Army Corps, for example, had to defend a front around 100 kilometers long.
The Red Army allocated an estimated 1,100,000 personnel,804 tanks,13,400 artillery pieces and over 1,000 aircraft for the upcoming offensive. Across the Third Romanian Army, the Soviets placed the redeployed 5th Tank Army, as well as the 21st and 65th Armies, in order to penetrate, in total, the Soviets had amassed 11 armies and various independent tank brigades and corps
Commander is a common naval and air force officer rank. Commander is used as a rank or title in other formal organisations, Commander is a generic term for an officer commanding any armed forces unit, for example platoon commander, brigade commander and squadron commander. In the police, terms such as commander and incident commander are used. Commander is a used in navies but is very rarely used as a rank in armies. In practice, these were usually unrated sloops-of-war of no more than 20 guns, the Royal Navy shortened master and commander to commander in 1794, the term master and commander remained in common parlance for several years. The equivalent American rank master commandant remained in use changed to commander in 1838. A corresponding rank in some navies is frigate captain, in the 20th and 21st centuries, the rank has been assigned the NATO rank code of OF-4. Various functions of commanding officers were styled Commandeur, in the navy of the Dutch Republic, anyone who commanded a ship or a fleet without having an appropriate rank to do so, could be called a Commandeur.
This included ad hoc fleet Commanders and acting Captains, in the fleet of the Admiralty of Zealand however, commandeur was a formal rank, the equivalent of Schout-bij-nacht in the other Dutch admiralties. The Dutch use of the title as a rank lives on in the Royal Netherlands Navy, in the Royal Netherlands Air Force, this rank is known by the English spelling of Commodore which is the Dutch equivalent of the British Air Commodore. The rank of commander in the Royal Australian Navy is identical in description to that of a commander in the British Royal Navy, RAN chaplains who are in Division 1,2 and 3 have the equivalent rank standing of commanders. This means that to officers and NCOs below the rank of commander, or wing commander, the chaplain is a superior. To those officers ranked higher than commander, the chaplain is subordinate, although this equivalency exists, RAN chaplains who are in Division 1,2 and 3 do not actually wear the rank of commander, and they hold no command privilege.
In France, the rank of commander exists as capitaine de frégate and it is senior to capitaine de corvette, and junior to capitaine de vaisseau. The rank of commander was used in the Imperial Japanese Navy, though the modern rank is translated as commander in English, its literal translation is captain second rank. The rank is equivalent to that of a commander in the U. S. Navy, Commander is a rank in the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, and is denoted by the post-nominal letters CLJ. The corresponding rank in the Polish Navy is komandor porucznik, in the Russian Navy the equivalent rank to commander is captain of the second rank. The rank was introduced in Russia by Peter the Great in 1722, from the introduction of the Russian Table of Ranks to its abolition in 1917, captain of the second rank was equal to a court councillor, at the sixth level out of 14 ranks
Heinz Wilhelm Guderian was a German general during World War II, noted for his success as a leader of Panzer units in Poland and France and for partial success in the Soviet Union. Guderian had pioneered motorized tactics in the army, while keeping himself well informed about tank development in other armies. In particular, he promoted the use of communication between tank-crews, and devised shock-tactics that proved highly effective. In 1940, he led the Panzers that broke the French defences at Sedan, France, in 1941, his attack on Moscow was delayed by orders from Hitler with whom he disagreed sharply. After the German defeat at the Battle of Moscow he was transferred to the reserve and this marked the end of his ascendancy. He was appointed Chief of the General Staff of the Army, from 1945-48, Guderian was held in U. S. custody, but released without charge. He advised on the re-establishment of military forces in West Germany, Guderian was born in Kulm, West Prussia, the son of Clara and Friedrich Guderian.
He entered the Army in 1907, on 1 October 1913 he married Margarete Goerne, with whom he had two sons, Heinz Günther and Kurt. At the outset of World War I Guderian served as a Signals Officer in the 5th Cavalry Division, on 28 February 1918 Guderian was appointed to the General Staff Corps. Like many Germans, he disagreed with Germany signing the armistice in 1918, early in 1919, Guderian was selected as one of the four thousand officers to continue on in military service for the reduced size German army, the Reichswehr. He was assigned to serve on the staff of the command of the Eastern Frontier Guard Service. In June 1919, Guderian joined the Iron Brigade as its second General Staff officer, the commanders of the regular German army had intended that this move would allow the army to reassert its control over the Iron Division, their hopes were disappointed. Rather than restrain the Freikorps, Guderians anti-communism caused him to empathize with the Iron Divisions efforts to defend Prussia against the Soviet threat, Guderian was assigned as a company commander for the 10th Jäger-Battalion.
Later he joined the Truppenamt, which was a form of the Armys General Staff which had been officially forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles. In 1927 Guderian was promoted to major and transferred to the command of Army transport and this placed Guderian at the center of German development of armoured forces. Guderian, who was fluent in both English and French, studied the works of British maneuver warfare theorists J. F. C, in 1931, he was promoted to Oberstleutnant and became chief of staff to the Inspectorate of Motorized Troops under Oswald Lutz. In 1933 he was promoted to Oberst or Colonel, Guderian wrote many papers on mechanized warfare during this period. Some of these trial maneuveres were conducted in Soviet Russia, in October 1935 he was made commander of the newly created 2nd Panzer Division
The Commissar Order was an order issued by the German High Command on 6 June 1941 before Operation Barbarossa. Its official name was Guidelines for the Treatment of Political Commissars and it instructed the Wehrmacht that any Soviet political commissar identified among captured troops be summarily executed as an enforcer of the Judeo-Bolshevism ideology in military forces. According to the order, all prisoners who could be identified as thoroughly bolshevized or as active representatives of the Bolshevist ideology should be killed. Planning for Operation Barbarossa began in June 1940, on March 3,1941 Hitler explained to his closest military advisers how the war of annihilation was to be waged. Hitler declared, The intelligentsia established by Stalin must be exterminated, the most brutal violence is to be used in the Great Russian Empire. On March 30, Hitler addressed over 200 senior officers in the Reich Chancellery, among those present was Halder, who recorded the key points of the speech.
He argued that the war against the Soviet Union cannot be conducted in a knightly fashion because it was a war of ideologies and he further declared that the commissars had to be liquidated without mercy because they were the bearers of ideologies directly opposed to National Socialism. Hitler was well aware that this order was illegal, but personally absolved in advance any soldiers who violated international law in enforcing this order and he erroneously claimed that the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 did not apply since the Soviets hadnt signed them. In fact, Russia had signed both conventions, the paragraph in which General Müller called for Army commanders to prevent excesses was removed on the request of the OKW. Brauchitsch amended the order on 24 May 1941 by attaching Müllers paragraph, the final draft of the order was issued by OKW on 6 June 1941 and was restricted only to the most senior commanders, who were instructed to inform their subordinates verbally. The vast majority of the Wehrmacht officers and soldiers tended to regard the war in Nazi terms, the enforcement of the Commissar Order led to thousands of executions.
Every German general enforced the Commissar Order, erich von Manstein passed on the Commissar Order to his subordinates, who executed all the captured commissars, something that he was convicted of by a British court in 1949. After the war, Manstein lied about disobeying the Commissar Order, saying he had opposed to the order. When the Commissar Order became known among the Red Army, it delayed or prohibited surrender to the Wehrmacht and this unwanted effect was cited in German appeals to Hitler, who finally cancelled the Commissar Order after one year, on 6 May 1942. Commando Order Severity Order Nazi crimes against Soviet POWs German High Command orders for Treatment of Soviet Prisoners of War Burleigh, 1st ed. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press,1997. Jürgen Förster, Das Unternehmen Barbarossa als Eroberungs- und Vernichtungskrieg, in, Germany and the Second World War. The German Militarys Image of Russia, Alex J. Exploitation, Mass Murder, Political And Economic Planning for German Occupation Policy in the Soviet Union, 1940-1941.
Helmut Krausnick, Kommissarbefehl und Gerichtsbarkeitserlass Barbarossa in neuer Sicht, In, reinhard Otto, Gestapo und sowjetische Kriegsgefangene im deutschen Reichsgebiet 1941/42
Battle of Voronezh (1942)
The German attack had two objectives. One was to seed confusion about the goals of the overall campaign. There was widespread feeling by almost all observers, especially Soviet high command, by strongly attacking toward Voronezh, near the site of the Germans deepest penetration the year before, it would hide the nature of the real action taking place far to the south. Soviet forces sent to the area to shore up the defenses would not be able to move with the speed as the Germans. The other purpose was to provide an easily defended front line along the river, the plan involved forces of Army Group South, at this time far north of their ultimate area of responsibility. The attack would be spearheaded by the 4th Panzer Army under the command of General Hermann Hoth, Hoths highly mobile forces would move rapidly eastward to Voronezh and turn southeast to follow the Don to Stalingrad. As the 4th moved out of the city, the infantry forces of the Second Army following behind them would take up defensive positions along the river.
The plan called for the 2nd to arrive just as the 4th had cleared the city, the city was defended by the troops of the 40th Army as part of the Valuiki-Rossosh Defensive Operation of General of Army Nikolai Fyodorovich Vatutins Southwestern Front. For reasons that are unclear, the bridge over the Devitsa was not destroyed, Soviet forces mounted a successful counterattack that tied up Hoths forces. At this point they should have been relieved by the infantry forces, intense house-to-house fighting broke out, and Hoth continued to push forward while he waited. At one point the 3rd Motorized Division broke across the Don, the 2nd did not arrive for another two days, by which time the 4th was heavily engaged and took some time to remove from the line. The 2nd continued the battle until 24 July, when the final Soviet forces west of the Don were defeated, the Soviet forces recaptured the city in the Battle of Voronezh of 1943. Sources Glantz, David M. & House, When Titans Clashed, How the Red Army Stopped Hitler, Kansas, University Press of Kansas, ISBN 0-7006-0899-0
Invasion of Poland
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. German forces invaded Poland from the north and west the morning after the Gleiwitz incident, as the Wehrmacht advanced, Polish forces withdrew from their forward bases of operation close to the Polish–German border to more established lines of defence to the east. After the mid-September Polish defeat in the Battle of the Bzura, Polish forces withdrew to the southeast where they prepared for a long defence of the Romanian Bridgehead and awaited expected support and relief from France and the United Kingdom. While those two countries had pacts with Poland and had declared war on Germany on 3 September, in the end their aid to Poland was very limited. The Soviet Red Armys invasion of Eastern Poland on 17 September, in accordance with a protocol of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Facing a second front, the Polish government concluded the defence of the Romanian Bridgehead was no longer feasible, on 6 October, following the Polish defeat at the Battle of Kock and Soviet forces gained full control over Poland.
The success of the invasion marked the end of the Second Polish Republic, the Soviet Union incorporated its newly acquired areas into its constituent Belarusian and Ukrainian republics, and immediately started a campaign of sovietization. In the aftermath of the invasion, a collective of underground resistance formed the Polish Underground State within the territory of the former Polish state. Many of the exiles that managed to escape Poland subsequently joined the Polish Armed Forces in the West. On 30 January 1933, the Nazi Party, under its leader Adolf Hitler, as part of this long-term policy, Hitler at first pursued a policy of rapprochement with Poland, trying to improve opinion in Germany, culminating in the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact of 1934. Earlier, Hitlers foreign policy worked to weaken ties between Poland and France, and attempted to manoeuvre Poland into the Anti-Comintern Pact, forming a front against the Soviet Union. The Poles feared that their independence would eventually be threatened altogether, the so-called Polish Corridor constituted land long disputed by Poland and Germany, and inhabited by a Polish majority.
The Corridor had become a part of Poland after the Treaty of Versailles, many Germans wanted the city of Danzig and its environs to be reincorporated into Germany. Danzig was a city with a German majority. It had been separated from Germany after Versailles and made into the nominally independent Free City of Danzig, the series of border violations, which are unbearable to a great power, prove that the Poles no longer are willing to respect the German frontier. Poland participated with Germany in the partition of Czechoslovakia that followed the Munich Agreement and it coerced Czechoslovakia to surrender the region of Český Těšín by issuing an ultimatum to that effect on 30 September 1938, which was accepted by Czechoslovakia on 1 October. This region had a Polish majority and had been disputed between Czechoslovakia and Poland in the aftermath of World War I, the Polish annexation of Slovak territory served as the justification for the Slovak state to join the German invasion. Poland rejected this proposal, fearing that after accepting these demands, it would become subject to the will of Germany