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The Romanian Bridgehead (Polish : Przedmoście rumuńskie) was an area in southeastern Poland, now located in Ukraine. During the invasion of Poland of 1939 (at the start of World War II), on 14 September the Polish commander-in-chief Marshal of Poland Edward Rydz-Śmigły ordered all Polish troops fighting east of the Vistula (approximately 20 divisions still retaining cohesion) to withdraw towards Lwów, and then to the hills along the borders with Romania and the Soviet Union.
Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.
Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.
Ukraine, sometimes called the Ukraine, is a country in Eastern Europe. Excluding Crimea, Ukraine has a population of about 42.5 million, making it the 32nd most populous country in the world. Its capital and largest city is Kiev. Ukrainian is the official language and its alphabet is Cyrillic. The dominant religions in the country are Eastern Orthodoxy and Greek Catholicism. Ukraine is currently in a territorial dispute with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. Including Crimea, Ukraine has an area of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), making it the largest country entirely within Europe and the 46th largest country in the world.
The plan was a fall back plan in case it was impossible to defend the Polish borders, and assumed that the Polish forces would be able to retreat to the area, organise a successful defence until the winter, and hold out until the promised French offensive on the Western Front started. Rydz-Śmigły predicted that the rough terrain, the Stryj and Dniestr rivers, valleys, hills and swamps would provide natural lines of defence against the German advance. The area was also home to many ammunition dumps that were prepared for the third wave of Polish troops, and was linked to the Romanian port of Constanța, which could be used to resupply the Polish troops.
France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.
The Western Front was a military theatre of World War II encompassing Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany. World War II military engagements in Southern Europe and elsewhere are generally considered under separate headings. The Western Front was marked by two phases of large-scale combat operations. The first phase saw the capitulation of the Netherlands, Belgium, and France during May and June 1940 after their defeat in the Low Countries and the northern half of France, and continued into an air war between Germany and Britain that climaxed with the Battle of Britain. The second phase consisted of large-scale ground combat, which began in June 1944 with the Allied landings in Normandy and continued until the defeat of Germany in May 1945.
The Stryi River starts in the Carpathian mountains in western Ukraine. It snakes through the mountains running for 144 miles (231 km). After 120 miles it passes Stryi. The river continues for another 20 miles before joining the Dniester near Khodoriv.
This plan is one of the reasons the Polish–Romanian Alliance was not activated by Poland. Poland and Romania had been allied since 1921 and the defensive pact was still valid in 1939. However, the Polish government decided that it would be much more helpful to have a safe haven in Romania and a safe port of Constanța that could accept as many Allied merchant ships as required to keep Poland fighting. The Polish Navy and merchant marine were mostly evacuated prior to 1 September (see Peking Plan); they were to operate from French and British ports and deliver the supplies through Romania.
The Polish–Romanian Alliance was a series of treaties signed in the interwar period by the Second Polish Republic and the Kingdom of Romania. The first of them was signed in 1921 and, together, the treaties formed a basis for good foreign relations between the two countries that lasted until World War II began in 1939.
The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.
The Polish Navy is a military branch of the Polish Armed Forces responsible for naval operations. The Polish Navy consists of 48 ships and about 12,000 commissioned and enlisted personnel. The traditional ship prefix in the Polish Navy is ORP.
The Soviet Union invaded from the east in early hours of 17 September, breaking the non-aggression pact with Poland, while the French, despite their promises, had taken no significant offensive against Germany, making it impossible for the Polish army to hold out, at least in eastern parts of the country. In the late hours of that day, the Polish government and members of the military high command crossed the Polish–Romanian border with the intention of moving to France where the Polish forces in the west were being formed.Polish units were ordered to evacuate Poland and reorganize in France.
The Soviet–Polish Non-Aggression Pact was an international treaty of non-aggression signed in 1932 by representatives of Poland and the USSR. The pact was unilaterally broken by the Soviet Union on September 17, 1939, during the German and Soviet invasion of Poland.
The Phoney War was an eight-month period at the start of World War II, during which there was only one limited military land operation on the Western Front, when French troops invaded Germany's Saar district. The Phoney period began with the declaration of war by the United Kingdom and France against Nazi Germany on 3 September 1939, and ended with the German attack on France and the Low Countries on 10 May 1940. While there was no large-scale military action by Britain and France, they did begin economic warfare, and shut down German surface raiders. They created elaborate plans for numerous large-scale operations designed to swiftly and decisively cripple the German war effort. These included opening a French-British front in the Balkans; invading Norway to seize control of Germany's main source of iron ore; and a strike against the Soviet Union, to cut off its supply of oil to Germany. Only the Norway plan came to fruition, and it was too little too late in April 1940.
Up to 120,000 Polish troops withdrew through the Romanian Bridgehead area to neutral Romania and Hungary. The majority of those troops joined the newly formed Polish Armed Forces in the West in France and the United Kingdom in 1939 and 1940. Until the United States entered the war and Germany attacked the Soviet Union ( Operation Barbarossa ), the Polish army was one of the largest forces of the Allies.
Hungary is a country in Central Europe. Spanning 93,030 square kilometres (35,920 sq mi) in the Carpathian Basin, it borders Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Austria to the northwest, Romania to the east, Serbia to the south, Croatia to the southwest, and Slovenia to the west. With about 10 million inhabitants, Hungary is a medium-sized member state of the European Union. The official language is Hungarian, which is the most widely spoken Uralic language in the world. Hungary's capital and its largest city and metropolis is Budapest. Other major urban areas include Debrecen, Szeged, Miskolc, Pécs and Győr.
The Polish Armed Forces in the West refers to the Polish military formations formed to fight alongside the Western Allies against Nazi Germany and its allies during World War II..
The United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but more commonly known as the UK or Britain, is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state—the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
The Romanian government also received the treasury of the National Bank of Poland in 1939. One part of it, consisting of 1,261 crates containing 82,403 kg of gold, was loaded aboard a commercial ship in the port of Constanța, and transported to Western Europe. The transport was escorted by ships from the Romanian Navy, in order to prevent interception by Soviet submarines in the Black Sea. The second part of the treasury was deposited in the Romanian National Bank. It was returned to Poland on 17 September 1947. A fictional portrayal of the gold's evacuation from Warsaw forms part of the novel The Polish Officer , by Alan Furst. The gold's evacuation is also the subject of the 1986 Polish-Romanian movie Zloty Pociag/Trenul de aur (The Gold Train).
Narodowy Bank Polski is the central bank of Poland. It controls the issuing of Poland's currency, the złoty. The Bank is headquartered in Warsaw, and has branches in 16 major Polish towns. The NBP represents Poland in the European System of Central Banks, an EU organization.
The kilogram or kilogramme is the base unit of mass in the International System of Units (SI). Until 20 May 2019, it remains defined by a platinum alloy cylinder, the International Prototype Kilogram, manufactured in 1889, and carefully stored in Saint-Cloud, a suburb of Paris. After 20 May, it will be defined in terms of fundamental physical constants.
Constanța, historically known as Tomis, is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Romania. It was founded around 600 BC. The city is located in the Dobruja region of Romania, on the Black Sea coast. It is the capital of Constanța County and the largest city in the region.
The Invasion of Poland, known in Poland as the September Campaign or the 1939 Defensive War, and in Germany as the Poland Campaign (Polenfeldzug), was an invasion of Poland by Germany that 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. The Soviets invaded Poland on 17 September following the Molotov–Tōgō agreement that terminated the Soviet and Japanese Battles of Khalkhin Gol in the east on 16 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.
Ignacy Mościcki was a Polish chemist, politician, and President of Poland from 1926 to 1939. He was the longest serving President in Poland's history.
Independent Operational Group Polesie was one of the Polish Army Corps that defended Poland during the Invasion of Poland in 1939. It was created on 11 September 1939 and was commanded by general Franciszek Kleeberg. The SGO is most notable for fighting in the battle of Kock, the last battle of the Invasion of Poland.
The Battle of the Bzura was the largest battle of the 1939 German invasion of Poland, fought between 9 and 19 September 1939, between Polish and German forces. It began as a Polish counter-offensive, but the Germans outflanked the Polish forces and took all of western Poland.
Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły(
Michael Alfred Peszke was a Polish-American psychiatrist and historian of the Polish Armed Forces in World War II.
General Stanisław Kopański was a Polish military commander, politician, diplomat, an engineer and one of the best-educated Polish officers of the time, serving with distinction during World War II. He is best known as the creator and commander of the Polish Independent Carpathian Brigade and Polish 3rd Carpathian Infantry Division.
The Saar Offensive was a French ground invasion of Saarland, Germany, during the early stages of World War II, from 7 to 16 September 1939. The plans called for roughly 40 divisions, including 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 understrength western front. Although 30 divisions advanced to the border, the assault never happened. When the quick victory in Poland allowed Germany to reinforce its lines with homecoming troops, the offensive was stopped. The French forces eventually withdrew amid a German counter-offensive on 17 October.
Wacław Teofil Stachiewicz was a Polish writer, geologist, military commander and a general of the Polish Army. Brother to General Julian Stachiewicz and husband to Gen. Roman Abraham's sister, Stachiewicz was the Chief of General Staff of the Polish Army during the Polish Defensive War of 1939.
The Southern Front was one of two fronts of the Polish Army created during the Invasion of Poland of 1939 against the allied forces of Nazi Germany and Soviet Union. It was established on September 12 out of the Polish Armies Karpaty and Kraków, as well as several military units created behind the front-lines.
The Riverine Flotilla of the Polish Navy, better known as the Pinsk Flotilla, was the inland branch of the Polish Navy operating on the Vistula river and in the area of the Pinsk Marshes between the Polish–Bolshevik War and World War II. Under Commodore Witold Zajączkowski, it was active in the invasion of Poland and fought against both German and Soviet forces.
Byelorussia, known today as Belarus was a republic of the Soviet Union when World War II began. The borders of Byelorussia were greatly expanded in the invasion of Poland of 1939 and finalized after World War II. Following the German military disasters at Stalingrad and Kursk, a collaborationist Byelorussian self-government (BCR) was formed by the Germans in order to drum up local support for their anti-Soviet operations. The Byelorussian BCR in turn formed the twenty-thousand strong Belarusian Home Defence (BKA), active from 23 February 1944 to 28 April 1945. Assistance was offered by the local administrative governments from the Soviet era, and prewar public organizations including the former Soviet Belarusian Youth. The country was soon overrun by the Red Army. Devastated by the war, Belarus lost significant populations and economic resources. Many battles occurred in Belarusian territory or neighboring lands. Belarusian people also participated in regional conflicts.
The Peking Plan was an operation in which three destroyers of the Polish Navy, the Burza ("Storm"), Błyskawica ("Lightning"), and Grom ("Thunder"), were evacuated to the United Kingdom in late August and early September 1939. They were ordered to travel to British ports and assist the British Royal Navy in the event of a war with Nazi Germany. The plan was successful and allowed the ships to avoid certain destruction or capture in the German invasion.
The Battle of the Border refers to the battles that occurred in the first days of the German invasion of Poland in September, 1939. The series of battles ended in a German victory, as Polish forces were either destroyed or forced to retreat.
The Soviet invasion of Poland was a military operation by the Soviet Union without a formal declaration of war. On 17 September 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east, sixteen days after Germany invaded Poland from the west. Subsequent military operations lasted for the following 20 days and ended on 6 October 1939 with the two-way division and annexation of the entire territory of the Second Polish Republic by Germany and the Soviet Union. The Soviet invasion of Poland was secretly approved by Germany following the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact on 23 August 1939.
Tadeusz Piskor (1889-1951) was a Polish Army general.
Plan Zachód was a military plan of the Polish Army of the Second Polish Republic, for defence against invasion from Nazi Germany. It was designed in the late 1930s.
Plan East was a Polish defensive military plan, created in the 1920s and 1930s in case of war with the Soviet Union. Unlike Plan Zachód, it was being prepared during the whole Interwar period, as the government of the Second Polish Republic treated the Soviet Union as the greatest potential military threat, capable of initiating a full-scale war. However, a handful of loose historical documents are all that remains of the original Plan East today.
This is a timeline of events that stretched over the period of World War II. For events preceding September 1, 1939, see the timeline of events preceding World War II.