Battle of Westerplatte

Nazi war flag on Westerplatte

Nazi war flag on Westerplatte

The Battle of Westerplatte is a clash between German troops and the Polish garrison stationed in Danzig between 1 and September 7, 1939. This is the first battle of the Polish campaign. It is on the peninsula of Westerplatte, Danzig (now Gdansk) in Poland, was the site of the first battle of World War II. Small wooded island separated from Danzig by the channel leading to the port, Westerplatte was during the interwar period, a military outpost.
In March 1939, when Hitler shared his demands toPoland, the garrison, commanded by Henryk Sucharski and his deputy Captain Franciszek Dabrowski, was put on alert. The garrison of Westerplatte comprised about a hundred soldiers.

Political context

Following the annexation ofAustriaandCzechoslovakiaas part of the Anschluss, the neutrality of Western powers (theUnited KingdomandFrance), Adolf Hitler was determined to destroyPoland. The dictator was certain that the British and French armies would not budge as they did a year earlier despite the military alliance which united the three nations. Since the Treaty of Versailles, Danzig was a free city under the protection of theLeague of Nations. However, in 1924,Polandhad the right to have a deposit ofDanzigammunition “protected”.

Preparations for German and Polish operations

Major Sucharski, then commander of Polish forces Westerplatte, ordered to reinforce the defenses with s bunker, the bunker officially dugouts and trenches dug seven. They dug the trenches at strategic locations to block access to the strip of land that connected the mainland Westerplatte.

The German attack was planned under the command of General Friedrich Eberhardt police. The troops of General were composed of SS men Heimwehr unit. This unit consisted of 225 elite commandos. The cons-Admiral Gustav Kleikamp had positioned his ship, the SMS Schleswig-Holstein, then courtesy visit to Westerplatte further upstream in order to bombard Westerplatte. Sucharski ordered the garrison to construct defenses for the night the Germans observed the day on the roofs of warehouses built on the waterfront.

The first assault, Friday 1 September 1939

At 4 h 48 morning, the ship of Admiral Kleikamp opened fire on the south side of Westerplatte. Thus the Second World War began. Sucharsky sent an SOS to theHelPeninsulaafter the Germans could destroy part of the wall.

Eight minutes later, the German commandos amounted to an assault squad in three seconds. Polish soldiers managed to eliminate the machine gun nest at the expense of the lives of three soldiers and opened fire, stopping their progression. Lt. Pajak opened fire with howitzers and managed to détuire the German machine guns on the other side of the channel placed on deposits. At this time, the Schleswig-Holstein was threatened by these howitzers, but having trouble nevertheless destroy them, thus avoiding the destruction of his command.

At 6:22, the commandos sent a message to the ship Kleikamp in these words: “We have too many losses, we retreat.”Danzigpolice tried to breakthrough the Polish lines and seize the port, but armed civilians managed to stop them. At 9am, the naval commandos under the command of Oberleutnant Henningsen, took the fight with the help of some fifty SS. At noon, but the fighting continued suffering huge losses, the SS turned back. An hour later, in the exchange of gunfire, Henningsen was killed. The Germans gave up. The fighting then killed the lives of more than a hundred German soldiers. Westerplatte still held. The German attack was to rout the Polish garrison from1 inSeptember, but had completely failed.

The battle of 2 to 7 September

Eberhardt managed to convince Generaloberst Fedor von Bock attacked by tunes as a ground attack was impossible. The September 3, 60 Luftwaffe aircraft opened fire on the Polish bunkers that housed the last stocks of food. Polish morale was clearly in decline. On the night of September 3 to 4, the commandos attacked German outposts Polish but were repulsed. On the morning of September 4, a German torpedo launched a surprise attack by sea next Sucharski called a council of war and asked that the garrison surrendered. Dabrowski strongly disapproved. Sucharski ordered these men to continue to fight with courage and determination.

The Germans knew that the Poles were planning to make. Every moment of resistance was a humiliation for the attackers. A Polish soldier, who worked with the Germans remarked on Westerplatte, there were no bunkers defense in depth.
September 6, at 3:00 am, the Germans launched a series incendiary against the bridge, but the driver of the train découpla too early and did not reach the perimeter Polish. A second train was launched incendiary in the afternoon, but in vain.

In the evening, Sucharski decided to stop fighting and takes a second council of war. He had decided that because the German army was at the gates ofWarsawand the first cases of gangrene occurred among the wounded. From 4:30 to 7:00 inthe morning, the Germans launched an intense fire, damaged it several bunkers.

The end of the battle

At 9:45 am on September 7, the white flag appeared and, at 11 o’clock, went to Sucharski Kleikamp. This gave him his sword in honor of his courage. German soldiers were warned to you when Westerplatte garrison left at 11:33. After a week of fighting, the flag of the Reich is hoisted atop the Westerplatte conquered.
Consequences:

Prowess commander Sucharski for its resistance to Werterplatte delayed for a short time the German occupation of the Polish coast close, but enough to save the Polish Navy. This attack marked the beginning of the Polish Campaign.

Reflections

The German point of view, the first attack of1 inSeptember was enough to bring down the garrison of Westerplatte. It was considered able to withstand an enemy attack for twelve hours maximum by the Polish General Staff. The garrison held out for more than a week against the incessant attacks of the SS and in air and naval bombardments.

This battle was thus a true Polish propaganda and some humiliation for the Germans. The spirit of resistance and determination not to let Westerplatte fall into the hands of the enemy provoked the Germans a certain admiration for the Polish soldiers. Admiral Kleikamp had expressed admiration by giving his own sword Polish commander. The latter, who had survived the war, was promoted to brigadier general for courageously defended Westerplatte.

A memorial was also erected thereafter.

German order of battle

Kriegsmarine (Rear Admiral Kleikamp)

Waffen SS (General Eberhardt)

  • SS unit Heimwehr
  • Schupo (Security Police ofDanzig)

Luftwaffe (sent by General von Bock)

All complemented by 65 artillery pieces:

  • Flak 30
  • Pak 36
  • Light Artillery10.5 cmleichte Feldhaubitze 18
  • Heavy artillery Mörser 18

Polish Order of Battle

Westerplatte garrison (Major Sucharsky)

  • 182 soldiers (Captain Dabrowski)
  • 27 civilians reservists (mobilized after the declaration of war)
  • A field gun
  • Two anti-tank guns
  • Four mortars
  • Several howitzer s (Lt. Pajak)
  • Several gun s
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