Battle of Łódź (1939)
|Battle of Łódź|
|Part of Invasion of Poland|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
The German aggression was anticipated by the Poles since spring of 1939, when Poland refused to join the Axis against the Soviet Union (look up the Polish—Soviet War of 1919-1920). Poland’s strategy during the forecast war would be to stand the initial German attack and trigger France and Great Britain to declare the war on Germany, and, afterward, 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 mobilization of his own army, leading three divisions, rushed to the border. He believed that only through mobility and continuous resistance ("fighting for every village"), the German advance could be slowed down 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 the advice from Paris and London (look: Jabłonków Incident; German attack on 25 August 1939).
German's military blunder
German Army attacked September 1, 1939. They hoped, that the old military strategy of overwhelming the enemy with the superior numbers of men, and most especially equipment, combined with the elements of the new military strategy Blitzkrieg would bring them a quick and loss free success. The Germans were told by Adolf Hitler that the French and British military leaders were worms incapable of even pushing the pencile to declar war on the nazi Germany in the case, the nazi Germany invaded Poland. He was wrong. When no significant action was taken and opportunity to capture a sea port with 50 U--boats as well as the German bunker line through a land offensive was wasted, the French under pressure from the British, declared war on the nazi Germany together. Moreover, the German losses in Poland were significant and prevented the invasion of the Low Countries and France in 1939.
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 Army Łódź (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 the 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 Army Kraków and the Army Kraków and the fully mechanized 10. Cavalary Brigade of Stanislaw Maczek had to head towards Lviv. The withdrawal from the south—western Poland in turn forced the withdrawal from the northern Poland and left units under de facto command of General Kutrzeba (Battle of Bzura river) stranded west from the Vistula river. Even the units that did successfully withdraw, for the major part, did not make neither the Romanian Bridgehead, nor the Hungarian border crossing because on 17SEP1939, the Soviet troops took over the very bridgehead and cut off the routes of escape. Only 60,000 to 80,000 Polish soldiers escaped the German, Soviet, or Slovak capture or the need to hide to continue fight as the underground soldiers.
The Germans advanced too fast for the units of the Army Prussia to be in 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 Polish major offensive action occurred during the Battle of Bzura river marshes also known as the Battle of Kutno (township).
All Poland fell completely under the control of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union as well as 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 here in appalling conditions. While most of them were taken to 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 also those survivors were 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 German occupation.
- John Radzilowski, C. Peter Chen, Invasion of Poland: 1 Sep 1939 - 6 Oct 1939, ww2db.com, retrieved 2008-02-17