The origins of the plan went back to 1928 when Werner von Fritsch started working on it. Fall Weiss was developed primarily by Günther Blumentritt and Erich von Manstein while the two were serving as staff officers under General Gerd von Rundstedt with Army Group South in Silesia.
The German invasion began on 1 September 1939, one week after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, while the Soviet invasion commenced on September 17, 1939
The plan called for a start of hostilities before the declaration of war. German units were to invade Poland from three directions:
- Main attack from the German mainland across the western border of Poland.
- Second route of attack from the north, from the exclave of East Prussia.
- Tertiary attack by German and allied Slovak units across the border of Slovakia.
All three assaults were to converge on Warsaw, while the main Polish army was to be encircled and destroyed west of the Vistula River.
Fall Weiss was initiated on 1 September 1939, and was the first European military operation of World War II. It was a “defensive war” according to German propaganda.
This is a situation where everything that could go right did. Diplomatic delays, Intelligence collection, Army dispositions, enemy reactions, weather you name it, the Blitzkrieg was born and blessed by Case White. Russia watched and waited for its opportunity to pounce, and the Western Allies dithered and failed to honor their treaty commitments.
Dues in the main to reservations about the intentions of allies the Polish Armies defended forward. protecting valuable industry and resources, thereby foregoing the natural defensive barriers of the Vistula and San Rivers.
The British and French estimated that Poland should be able to defend itself for two to three months, while Poland estimated it could do so for at least six months. Poland drafted its estimates based upon the expectation that the Western Allies honor their treaty obligations and quickly start an offensive of their own. In addition, the French and British expected the war to develop into trench warfare much like World War I. The Polish government was not notified of this strategy and based all of its defense plans on promises of quick relief by their Western allies.
Given the potential for a double envelopment from German forces on the border and East Prussian forces the situating of the bulk of the Polish Army was a disaster waiting to happen.
The Allied governments declared war on Germany on 3 September; however, they failed to provide any meaningful support. The German-French border saw only a few minor skirmishes, although the majority of German forces, including 85% of their armoured forces, were engaged in Poland. Despite some Polish successes in minor border battles, German technical, operational and numerical superiority forced the Polish armies to retreat from the borders towards Warsaw and Lwów. The Luftwaffe gained air superiority early in the campaign. By destroying communications, the Luftwaffe increased the pace of the advance which overran Polish airstrips and early warning sites, causing logistical problems for the Poles.
On 10 September, the Polish commander-in-chief—Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły—ordered a general retreat to the southeast, towards the so-called Romanian Bridgehead. Meanwhile, the Germans were tightening their encirclement of the Polish forces west of the Vistula (in the Łódź area and, still farther west, around Poznań) and also penetrating deeply into eastern Poland. Warsaw—under heavy aerial bombardment since the first hours of the war—was attacked on 9 September and was put under siege on 13 September. Around that time, advanced German forces also reached the city of Lwów, a major metropolis in eastern Poland. 1,150 German aircraft bombed Warsaw on 24 September.
The Luftwaffe‘s offensive broke what remained of Polish resistance in an “awesome demonstration of air power”. The Luftwaffe quickly destroyed the bridges across the Bzura River. Afterward, the Polish forces were trapped out in the open, and were attacked by wave after wave of Stukas, dropping 50 kg (110 lb) “light bombs” which caused huge numbers of casualties. The Polish anti-aircraft batteries ran out of ammunition and retreated to the forests, but were then “smoked out” by the Heinkel He 111 and Dornier Do 17s dropping 100 kg (220 lb) incendiaries. The Luftwaffe left the army with the task of mopping up survivors. The Stukageschwaders alone dropped 388 t (428 short tons) of bombs during this battle.
The Polish government and the high command left Warsaw in the first days of the campaign and headed southeast, reaching Lublin on 6 September. From there, it moved on 9 September to Kremenez, and on 13 September to Zaleshiki on the Romanian border. Rydz-Śmigły ordered the Polish forces to retreat in the same direction, behind the Vistula and San rivers, beginning the preparations for the long defense of the Romanian Bridgehead area.
From the beginning, the German government repeatedly asked Vyacheslav Molotov whether the Soviet Union would keep to its side of the partition bargain. The Soviet forces were holding fast along their designated invasion points pending finalization of the five-month-long undeclared war with Japan in the far east. On 15 September 1939 the Ambassadors Molotov and Shigenori Tōgō completed their agreement ending the conflict, and the Nomonhan cease-fire went into effect on 16 September 1939. Now cleared of any “second front” threat from the Japanese, Soviet premier Joseph Stalin ordered his forces into Poland on 17 September. It was agreed that the USSR would relinquish its interest in the territories between the new border and Warsaw in exchange for inclusion of Lithuania in the Soviet “zone of interest”.
By 17 September, the Polish defense was already broken and the only hope was to retreat and reorganize along the Romanian Bridgehead.
However, these plans were rendered obsolete nearly overnight, when the over 800,000 strong Soviet Red Army entered and created the Belarussian and Ukrainian fronts after invading the eastern regions of Poland in violation of the Riga Peace Treaty, the Soviet-Polish Non-Aggression Pact, and other international treaties, both bilateral and multilateral. Soviet diplomacy claimed that they were “protecting the Ukrainian and Belarusian minorities of eastern Poland since the Polish government had abandoned the country and the Polish state ceased to exist”.
The 7th title in the Europa series captures the essence of the brief but bloody conflict while still giving both players something to do. Allied Intervention via a “west Wall” track, VP’s for specific unit type kills and exiting units into neighbouring countries all add some play value to the Polish side. The Soviet entry also adds further pressure!
The cut down system is pretty straight forward barring some egregious errors on tables which are repaired in ancient errata. I had also looked at the book camp rules and PDF but decided that the air rules were too simplistic and in fact I did not have the tables to go with it. So all for naught.
Some results in some tables are unclear and some charts are either missing or expected to be already owned. Such as a Terrain Effects Chart…..sigh. Regardless the game has all the hallmarks of a 70’s title, with slippery, generally one sided counters, spartan maps and wordy rules.
The CRTs are not really explained so referencing rules is a constant affair. Combat and Supply combine to make offense deadly and defense a brave mans proposition. After a turn I think we shall see the Polish attacking a lot. They have nothing to lose and a CRT that favors the attacker. That said it plays faster than I thought it might and working thru the somewhat involved combat process with Armour & or AT effects is not impossible!
AAR to come. References are mostly web based and my private collection of books.