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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 (and in some cases across it), 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.
Saarland is a state of Germany.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
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.
According to the Franco-Polish military convention, the French Army was to start preparations for the major offensive three days after mobilization started. The French forces were to effectively gain control over the area between the French border and the Siegfried Line and were to probe the German defenses. The sector was defended by the German 1st Army. On the 15th day of the mobilization (that is on 16 September), the French Army was to start a full-scale assault on Germany. The pre-emptive mobilization was started in France on 26 August and on 1 September, full mobilization was declared.
The French Army, officially the Ground Army to distinguish it from the French Air Force, Armée de l'Air or Air Army, is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces. It is responsible to the Government of France, along with the other four components of the Armed Forces. The current Chief of Staff of the French Army (CEMAT) is General Jean-Pierre Bosser, a direct subordinate of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CEMA). General Bosser is also responsible, in part, to the Ministry of the Armed Forces for organization, preparation, use of forces, as well as planning and programming, equipment and Army future acquisitions. For active service, Army units are placed under the authority of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CEMA), who is responsible to the President of France for planning for, and use, of forces.
Mobilization, in military terminology, is the act of assembling and readying troops and supplies for war. The word mobilization was first used, in a military context, to describe the preparation of the Imperial Russian Army during the 1850s and 1860s. Mobilization theories and techniques have continuously changed since then. The opposite of mobilization is demobilization.
The "Siegfried Line", known in German as the Westwall, was a German defensive line built during the 1930s opposite the French Maginot Line. It stretched more than 630 km (390 mi); from Kleve on the border with the Netherlands, along the western border of the old German Empire, to the town of Weil am Rhein on the border to Switzerland - and featured more than 18,000 bunkers, tunnels and tank traps.
French mobilization suffered from an inherently out of date system, which greatly affected their ability to swiftly deploy their forces on the field.The French command still believed in the tactics of World War I, which relied heavily on stationary artillery, even though this took time to transport and deploy. Many pieces also had to be retrieved from storage before any advance could be made.
Almost everyone expected a major French attack on the Western Front soon after the start of the war, but Britain and France were cautious as both feared large German air attacks on their cities. They did not know that 90% of German frontline aircraft were in Poland. 32 km (20 mi) line near Saarbrücken, against weak German opposition. The French army advanced to as far as 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) in some areas, and captured about 12 towns and villages unopposed: Gersheim, Medelsheim, Ihn, Niedergailbach, Bliesmengen, Ludweiler, Brenschelbach, Lauterbach, Niedaltdorf, Kleinblittersdorf, Auersmacher, and Sitterswald (occasionally called "Hitlersdorf" in some French reports). Four Renault R35 tanks were destroyed by mines north of Bliesbrück.A French offensive in the Rhine valley began on 7 September, four days after France declared war on Germany. The Wehrmacht was engaged in the attack on Poland and the French enjoyed a decisive numerical advantage along the border with Germany but the French did not take any action that was able to assist the Poles. Eleven French divisions, part of the Second Army Group, advanced along a
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 Rhine is a European river that begins in the Swiss canton of Graubünden in the southeastern Swiss Alps, forms part of the Swiss-Liechtenstein, Swiss-Austrian, Swiss-German and then the Franco-German border, then flows through the German Rhineland and the Netherlands and eventually empties into the North Sea.
The Wehrmacht was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe. The designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the previously used term Reichswehr, and was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted.
By 9 September the French occupied most of the Warndt Forest.On 10 September, while a minor German counterattack retook the village of Apach, French forces reversed the loss only hours later. The French 32nd Infantry Regiment made further gains on 12 September, seizing the German town of Brenschelbach with the loss of one captain, one sergeant, and seven privates. Near the meeting point of the French, German, and Luxembourgeois borders, the Schengen bridge was destroyed.
The Warndt is an extensive forest area of approximately 5,000 hectares (19 sq mi) including parts of the German Saarland and the French region Grand Est west of Saarbrücken. The geology of the Warndt is composed of Buntsandstein permeated by veins of iron ore and deposits of hard coal. Today it is a popular recreational area.
Apach is a commune in the Moselle department in Grand Est in northeastern France.
The offensive was halted after French forces had occupied the 7 square kilometres (2.7 sq mi) Warndt Forest, which had been heavily mined by the Germans. The French stopped short of the Siegfried line, although they came within a few kilometres south of it, immediately east of Saarbrücken.
A land mine is an explosive device concealed under or on the ground and designed to destroy or disable enemy targets, ranging from combatants to vehicles and tanks, as they pass over or near it. Such a device is typically detonated automatically by way of pressure when a target steps on it or drives over it, although other detonation mechanisms are also sometimes used. A land mine may cause damage by direct blast effect, by fragments that are thrown by the blast, or by both.
The French held German territory along all of the Rhine-Moselle front, but after the collapse of Poland,General Maurice Gamelin on 21 September ordered French units to return to their starting positions on the Maginot Line. Some French generals, such as Henri Giraud, saw the withdrawal as a wasted opportunity and made known their disagreement with it.
As the withdrawal was taking place, on 28 September, a counterattack by the German 18th Infantry Regiment (from the then newly-formed 52nd Division) in the area between Bischmisheim and Ommersheim was repelled by French forces.
On 17 October the withdrawal was complete. There had been about 2,000 French casualties (killed, wounded, or sick).
The Polish Army general plan for defense, Plan West, assumed that the allied offensive on the Western Front would provide a significant relief to the Polish front in the East.
However, the limited and half-hearted Saar Offensive did not result in any diversion of German troops. The 40-division all-out assault never materialised. On 12 September, the Anglo-French Supreme War Council gathered for the first time at Abbeville in France. It was decided that all offensive actions were to be halted immediately. General Maurice Gamelin ordered his troops to stop "not closer than 1 kilometre (0.6 miles)" from the German positions along the Siegfried Line. Poland was not notified of this decision. Instead, Gamelin informed Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły that half of his divisions were in contact with the enemy, and that French advances had forced the Wehrmacht to withdraw at least six divisions from Poland.
The following day, the commander of the French Military Mission to Poland, General Louis Faury, informed the Polish chief of staff, General Wacław Stachiewicz, that the planned major offensive on the western front had to be postponed from 17 to 20 September.
From 16 to 17 October, the German army, now reinforced with troops returning from the Polish campaign, conducted a counteroffensive that retook the remainder of the lost territory, still held by French covering forces, which withdrew as planned.German reports acknowledge the loss of 196 soldiers, plus 114 missing and 356 wounded. They also claim that 11 of their aircraft had been shot down as far as 17 October. The French suffered around 2,000 casualties. By then, all French divisions had been ordered to retreat to their barracks along the Maginot Line. The Phoney War had begun.
At the Nuremberg Trials, German military commander Alfred Jodl said that "if we did not collapse already in the year 1939 that was due only to the fact that during the Polish campaign, the approximately 110 French and British divisions in the West were held completely inactive against the 23 German divisions."General Siegfried Westphal stated that if the French had attacked in full force in September 1939 the German army "could only have held out for one or two weeks."
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.
Maurice Gustave Gamelin was a senior French Army general. Gamelin is remembered for his unsuccessful command of the French military during the Battle of France in World War II and his steadfast defence of republican values.
The Siege of Warsaw in 1939 was fought between the Polish Warsaw Army garrisoned and entrenched in the capital of Poland (Warsaw) and the invading German Army.
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(
The Romanian Bridgehead was an area in southeastern Poland, now located in Ukraine. During the invasion of Poland of 1939, on 14 September the Polish commander-in-chief Marshal of Poland Edward Rydz-Śmigły ordered all Polish troops fighting east of the Vistula to withdraw towards Lwów, and then to the hills along the borders with Romania and the Soviet Union.
The Polish–Soviet war erupted in 1919 in the aftermath of World War I. The root causes were twofold: a territorial dispute dating back to Polish–Russian wars in the 17–18th centuries; and a clash of ideology due to RSFSR's goal of spreading communist rule further west, to Europe. At that time both countries had just undergone transition: in 1918 Poland reclaimed independence after 123 years of partitions. In 1917 the October Revolution replaced the liberal, democratic Provisional Government, that had previously displaced the Tsar in Russia, with Soviet rule. The war ended with the Treaty of Riga in 1921, which settled the border issue and regulated Polish-Soviet relations until the German-Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939.
The Battle of Mława, otherwise known as the Defence of the Mława position, took place to the north of the town of Mława in northern Poland between 1 and 3 September 1939. It was one of the opening battles of the Invasion of Poland and World War II in general. It was fought between the forces of the Polish Modlin Army under General Krukowicz-Przedrzymirski and the German 3rd Army under General Georg von Küchler.
The Battle of Tomaszów Lubelski took place from 18 September to 20 September 1939 near the town of Tomaszów Lubelski. It was the second largest battle of the Invasion of Poland and also the largest tank battle of the campaign. It resulted in the surrender of Army Krakow on 20 Sept. 1939.
The Prusy Army was one of the Polish armies to fight during the Invasion of Poland in 1939. Created in the summer of 1939 as the main reserve of the Commander in Chief, it was commanded by Gen. Stefan Dąb-Biernacki. The word Prusy in the Polish language means Prussia, but this name only served as a codename and the region of operations of this army was far from East Prussia. This is in contrast to other Polish armies in 1939 which were named after the geographical regions where they formed. The Prusy Army, whose original name was Warszawa Army, was named so after a folwark in central Poland called Prusy, which served as the headquarters of General Dąb-Biernacki.
Polish 1st Legions Infantry Division was a tactical unit of the Polish Army between the World Wars. Formed on February 20, 1919, partially of veterans of the I Brigade of the Polish Legions, the unit saw extensive action during the Polish-Bolshevik War and World War II. Regarded by the soldiers of the Wehrmacht as the Iron Division, it distinguished itself in the Invasion of Poland.
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 Battle of Łódź was fought on September 6–8, 1939, between the armies of Poland and Nazi Germany in World War II during the Invasion of Poland. The Polish forces were led by General Juliusz Rómmel.
Kraków Army was one of the Polish armies which took part in the Polish Defensive War of 1939. It was officially created on March 23, 1939 as the main pivot of Polish defence. It was commanded by Gen. Antoni Szylling. Originally, Kraków Army was to be made of seven infantry divisions, two cavalry brigades and one mountain brigade. On September 1, 1939, General Szyllling had the force which consisted of five infantry divisions, two cavalry brigades and one brigade of mountain infantry. Altogether, the army was made of 59 battalions, 29 squadrons, 352 cannons, 90 tanks, two armoured trains and 44 planes. These forces were not enough to halt German advance, especially in the area north of Częstochowa, where Kraków Army connected with Łódź Army. Main thrust of Wehrmacht panzer units was directed there, and this area was defended only by the Polish 7th I.D., which was destroyed in the early days of September 1939, opening the way towards central Poland.
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.
André-Gaston Prételat was a general in the French Army.
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.