Romanian Bridgehead

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Poland (1920-1939). Romania (dark brown) is to the southeast of Poland. Rzeczpospolita 1938.svg
Poland (1920–1939). Romania (dark brown) is to the southeast of Poland.
Polish and German forces after 14 September 1939 and troop movements after this date Poland1939 after 14 Sep.png
Polish and German forces after 14 September 1939 and troop movements after this date

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 language West Slavic language spoken in Poland

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 republic in Central Europe

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 sovereign state in Eastern Europe

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 Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

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.

Western Front (World War II) military theatre of World War II encompassing Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany

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.

Stryi River river in Ukraine

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.

Allies of World War II Grouping of the victorious countries of World War II

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.

Polish Navy naval warfare branch of Polands military forces

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. [1] [2] [3] Polish units were ordered to evacuate Poland and reorganize in France.

Soviet–Polish Non-Aggression Pact peace treaty

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.

Phoney War early period of World War II

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. [4]

Hungary Country in Central Europe

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.

Polish Armed Forces in the West Polish military formations during the Second World War

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..

United Kingdom Country in Europe

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).

National Bank of Poland central bank of Poland

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.

Kilogram SI unit of mass

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 Place in Romania

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.

See also

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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.


  1. Michael Alfred Peszke. The Polish Underground Army, the Western Allies, and the Failure of Strategic Unity in World War II. McFarland & Company. 2005. pp. 16, 20, 23–26.
  2. Mieczysław B. Biskupski. The History of Poland. Greenwood Publishing Group. 2000. p. 102.
  3. Gerhard L. Weinberg. A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II. Cambridge University Press. 2005. pp. 51–52.
  4. Kwan Yuk Pan, "Polish veterans to take pride of place in victory parade", Financial Times , May 25, 2007. Last accessed on 31 March 2006.