Timeline of the invasion of Poland

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Key events

This list should only include links to events that already have their own pages on Wikipedia. More detailed entries can be listed in the detailed timeline.


Detailed timeline

Links to pages that are also "key events" (see above) are depicted in bold.


17 August

  • Following German advances that started in early 1939, Soviet Foreign Commissar Vyacheslav Molotov, after the failure to find a diplomatic agreement with the Allies, agrees to specific diplomatic talks with the Germans. [1] :78

21 August

23 August

  • Following intense German-Soviet negotiations, the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact is finalized (to be publicized on 24 August). The two powers agree to a broad economic exchange and to mutual military non-aggression. In a secret additional protocol, the two powers approve of each other's expansionist ambitions in Central Eastern Europe. Poland is divided (along the line of the San, Vistula and Narew rivers) into a German and Soviet sphere of influence. [1] :78f.

25 August

  • Orders are issued to German forces to commence the invasion on 26 August. [2] :103
  • With the Anglo-Polish alliance , [2] :103 the United Kingdom reaffirms its guarantee of independence issued on 31 March 1939. [3]

26 August

  • The scheduled invasion (see 25 August) is called off at the last possible moment to buy the Germans more time. [4] :16
  • The cancellation of the invasion orders fail to reach all German units in time; German saboteurs carry out a bombing attack at the Jablunkov Pass in what becomes known as the Jabłonków incident . [5] :47
  • Italian dictator Benito Mussolini sends a long list of equipment and support requests to German dictator Adolf Hitler to create an excuse for Italy to stay neutral in the imminent war. [6] :160f.

28 August

29 August

  • Polish general mobilization orders are called off under pressure by the Western Allies. [7] :110
  • Polish military leaders are ordered to move their troops into their jumping-off points. [7] :110

30 August

  • Polish general mobilization ordered again, to go into effect on 31 August. [7] :110
  • The Polish government announces that it has carried out defensive mining operations in its territorial waters. [5] :49
  • The Polish navy launches the Peking Plan to evacuate its three main destroyers to the United Kingdom. [2] :103f.

31 August

  • Hitler gives final approval to the invasion, to begin on the morning of 1 September; SS instructed to executed "Operation Himmler" to create various pretexts for invasion. [2] :106f.
  • In the night from 31 August to 1 September, the SS instigates a false flag attack (" Gleiwitz Incident ") against Gleiwitz Radio Station and sends broadcasts in the Polish language to create a pretext for German invasion. [9] :668
  • Germany issues a last-minute ultimatum to Poland (but does not provide either Poland or the United Kingdom with enough time to formulate diplomatic responses). [1] :83


1 September

2 September

3 September

  • In the best-known incident of violence by Poles against ethnic Germans during the early stage of the war, around 300 Germans are killed by Poles in Bromberg Bloody Sunday; these numbers are later upped to 58,000 by German propagandists. [19] :26
  • Soviet Defense Commissar Voroshilov orders seven military districts in the western Soviet Union to increase their combat readiness. [20] :125

4 September

  • Schleswig-Holstein intensifies its bombardment (supported through 21cm howitzers brought from East Prussia) against Polish defenders at Westerplatte as the Battle of Westerplatte continues. [21] :31
  • German 8th Army captures five bridges across the Warta river intact and begins its river crossing. [13] :122f.
  • Polish high command assigns the 41st Infantry Division and 44th Infantry Division, both still in deployment and unready for combat, to frontline duty to throw them into action. [14] :357

5 September

6 September

  • Wyszków Operational Group begins its counterattack (as ordered on 5 September) towards Pułtusk against I Corps; 1st Legions Infantry Division and 61st Infantry Division clash. [14] :247
  • Corps Wodrig forces the Germans' way across the Narew river; the corps subsequently wastes time with preparations to attack Różan (already evacuated by Polish defenders during the night of 5/6 September). [14] :248
  • XXII Corps severs the line between Warsaw and Częstochowa. [22] :109
  • Krakow is captured by German forces. [15] :Ch.III
  • The Polish air force attempts a general offensive and musters 164 sorties with 13 victories and nine planes lost. In the evening, orders are given to move all remaining Polish fighters to Lublin, where 88 fighters are subsequently formed into the newly-improvised Pursuit Brigade. [14] :160
  • The Polish government and its accredited ambassadors evacuate Warsaw and relocate to Lublin. [22] :102
  • During the night of 6/7 September, the Wyszków Operational Group's progess is significantly hampered by logistical chaos when the 33rd and 41st Infantry Divisions become hopelessly entangled with each other, causing mass confusion among the troops. [14] :247

7 September

  • At 04:15 in the morning, Schleswig-Holstein opens the final bombardment against Westerplatte, whose defenders surrender around 10:15. [21] :32

8 September

  • German forces reach the outskirts of Warsaw; [15] :Ch.III probing attacks by the 4th Panzer Division, which had judged Warsaw to be undefended the previous day, meet heavy Polish resistance in the Ochota suburb. [12] :308

9 September

  • 4th Panzer Division repeats its attack against Warsaw; Panzer Regiment 35 suffers heavy casualties, leading to the eventual recall of 4th Panzer Division from the Warsaw sector. [12] :308f.
  • The German 8th Army captures Łódź, and subsequently advances against a concentration of Polish forces southwest of Warsaw that was giving XVI Corps of 10th Army significant trouble. [7] :123
  • During the night of 9/10 September, the Poznan Army attempts a breakout attempt towards the south of Łódź and strikes the flank of the German 8th Army (primarily the 30th Infantry Division), [13] :127 achieving operational surprise against the Germans. [23] :11

10 September

  • German 14th Army forces its way across the river San on both sides of Przemyśl. The gros of the 11th Polish Infantry Division is trapped inside Przemyśl. [24] :208f.

11 September

  • Poland's submarines are ordered via radio to attempt the breakout to British waters, or to otherwise seek internment in neutral ports. [16] :15
  • II Corps approaches Modlin Fortress, where parts of the corps settle in to besiege the defenders, while the main body of the corps advances towards Dębe. [7] :123

12 September

  • The German 207th Infantry Division breaks Polish positions at Reda and forces the Land Coastal Command to withdraw to Kępa Oksywsk. [14] :168f.
  • Wilhelm Canaris warns Wilhelm Keitel that the SS is making urgent preparations for imminent mass executions in German-occupied Poland; Keitel responds that these executions are approved by Hitler and that the Wehrmacht must tolerate them. [25] :62

13 September

  • The German Group Kaupisch enters Gdynia (Polish remnant resistance in the city continues until 19 September). [7] :121
  • Luftwaffe formations are concentrated against the area northeast of Lodz, where Polish marching columns make for appealing targets. [7] :124

14 September

15 September

  • XVIII Corps captures the fortress at Przemyśl. [7] :124

16 September

  • 4th Panzer Division attempts to cross the Bzura river to attack the Poznan Army in its German-encircled position, but is beaten back; Panzer Regiment 36 and SS Leibstandarte are temporarily trapped by Polish forces. [12] :309
  • German attackers are repulsed at Lviv. [7] :124
  • Order No. 005 of the Soviet Minsk Military District is read out to Soviet troops, promising them the "liberation of Ukrainian and Belarussian workers from Polish landowners and capitalists". [20] :125

17 September

  • In the Soviet invasion of Poland , the Red Army intervenes in the German-Polish war on the German side, beginning its advance towards the German-Soviet demarcation line agreed in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. [20] :125
  • Rydz-Śmigły instructs Polish units in eastern Poland to avoid combat with the Red Army as far as possible and to withdraw towards the national frontiers with Romania and Hungary. [20] :126f.
  • XV Corps (of 10th Army) crosses the Warsaw—Sochaczew road and further tightens the chokehold around Warsaw. [7] :124

18 September

  • The main clashes of the Battle of the Bzura cease; OKH reports 120,000+ Polish prisoners from a total of 19 divisions and three cavalry brigades. [7] :124
  • Following Soviet pressure against the Estonian government, Orzel leaves Tallinn and begins its breakout towards the United Kingdom, which it would reach (without maps) on 14 October. [16] :16

19 September

  • German forces complete the encirclement of Warsaw, ending what the Germans would subsequently dub the "Eighteen Days Campaign". [26] :132
  • Krakow Army attempts a breakout towards the Romanian frontier through Tomaszow Lubelski. [23] :12
  • Pomorze Army and Poznan Army are forced to surrender. [15] :Ch.III

20 September

  • Army Group South is ordered to abort its attacks and to withdraw west of the Vistula-San line to make space for the advancing Soviets. The German siege of Lviv is aborted and left to the Soviets. A German attack against the city by XVIII Army Corps planned for 21 September is cancelled. [17] :118
  • Clashes between Polish and Soviet forces at Grodno (" Battle of Grodno "). [20] :129

21 September

  • Polish garrison of Lviv unexpectedly attempts surrender to the withdrawing Germans; [17] :118 occupation of Lviv is left to the Soviets, who take the city after an artillery bombardment. [27] :83
  • Reinhard Heydrich issues a directive to begin the concentration of Poland's Jews in the major cities to prepare the formation of ghettos and to ease subsequent deportations to concentration camps. [25] :62

22 September

24 September

27 September

  • Warsaw surrenders. [28] :327 Polish general Tadeusz Kutrzeba meets with Johannes Blaskowitz to discuss the terms of surrender. [22] :252
  • In the early morning, the 19th Uhlans are ambushed by a Soviet tank column, but manage to repel the initial assault. [22] :250
  • 26th Uhlans and 27th Uhlans are surprised by strong Soviet armored formations (" Battle of Wladypol ") and shatter. Small groups of survivors begin to fight their way to the Hungarian border, some 40km away. [22] :250

28 September

  • Soviet-Polish battle at Szack; 52nd Rifle Division and 411th Tank Battalion forced in temporary retreats by Polish defenders. [20] :130
  • Germany and the Soviet Union sign a Border and Friendship Treaty and adjust the frontiers of occupied Poland. The Soviet Union publicly blames the Western Allies for the continuation of the war. [29] :233–236

29 September

  • The Polish garrison of Modlin fortress surrenders at 08:00; the roughly 35,000 defenders (including 4,000 wounded) are released as agreed in the surrender agreement, though most officers are subsequently recaptured in the following weeks and detained in POW camps. [22] :255

30 September


1 October

  • Around 02:00 at night, a Polish vanguard of the Border Protection Corps meets a column of Soviet tanks near Wytyczno and destroys four of them. As the BPC crosses the Bug river south of Włodawa to catch up with Independent Operational Group Polesie forces, a Soviet counterattack (" Battle of Wytyczno ") commences in the early morning. General Wilhelm Orlik-Rückemann decides to break up his force into small units and send them into various directions. Several massacres are subsequently committed by the Soviet pursuers against Polish groups of soldiers. [22] :259f.
  • After a final assault against Hela by the German Infantry Regiment 374 towards Hela, the Polish commander asks for an armistice around 14:00. [21] :38
  • At 14:30, the German mineseeker M85 is sunk by the Polish submarine Zbik with 23 lives lost, sole Polish submarine victory of the campaign. [21] :39
  • Ger. 10th Army is alerted to return to Germany to prepare operations against France.

3 October

  • Gerd von Rundstedt becomes military commander in German-occupied Poland. [17] :118

4 October

  • The final clashes of the campaign erupt in the Battle of Kock . [17] :119
  • Adolf Hitler issues a general armistice for any war crimes committed by German troops during the campaign against Poland. [30] :58

5 October

  • The Germans hold the first of their victory campaigns in Warsaw, which is filmed by Leni Riefenstahl. [22] :265
  • Around 19:30, General Kleeberg (the commander of the last active Polish formations in the Kock sector) gives orders to cease fighting. [22] :267

6 October

  • The final Polish resistance (around two divisions in strength, under General Kleeberg around Kock) surrender, ending the campaign. [7] :123f.

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See also