Home History World War II (1939-1945) 01.09.1939 Battle of Westerplatte

Battle of Westerplatte PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 16 October 2011 23:23
Article Index
Battle of Westerplatte
Battle
Aftermath
Order of battle
A Song of the Soldiers of Westerplatte
References
All Pages

The Battle of Westerplatte was the very first battle that took place after Germany invaded Poland and World War II began in Europe. During the first week of September 1939, a Military Transit Depot (Wojskowy Skład Transportowy, WST) on the peninsula of Westerplatte, manned by fewer than 200 Polish soldiers, held out for seven days in the face of an overwhelming German attack. The defense of Westerplatte served as an inspiration for the Polish Army and people as the successful German advances continued elsewhere and today is still regarded as a symbol of resistance to the invasion.

Background

In 1925 the Council of the League of Nations allowed Poland to keep only 88 soldiers on Westerplatte, but secretly the garrison was gradually expanded to 176 men and six officers. The WST was separated from Free City of Danzig (Gdańsk) city by the harbour channel, with only a small pier connecting them to the mainland; the Polish-held part of the Westerplatte was separated from the territory of Danzig by a brick wall. Fortifications built at Westerplatte were in fact not very impressive: there were no real bunkers or underground tunnels, there were only five small concrete outposts (guardhouses) hidden in the peninsula's forest and the large barracks prepared for defense, supported by a network of field fortifications such as trenches and barricades.[1] In case of war, the defenders were expected to withstand a sustained attack for 12 hours.


SMS Schleswig-Holstein 1. Sep. 1939

Prelude

At the end of August 1939, the German pre-dreadnought battleship Schleswig-Holstein sailed to Danzig (Gdańsk) under the pretext of a courtesy visit and anchored in the channel 164 yards (150m) from Westerplatte. On board was a Shock troop (Stoßtruppen) assault company with orders to launch an attack against the Westerplatte on the morning of August 26. However, shortly before disembarkation, the order to attack was rescinded. As a result of Britain and Poland having signed the Polish-British Common Defence Pact on August 25, and also being informed that Italy was hesitant in fulfilling its obligations regarding the Pact of Steel, Adolf Hitler postponed the opening of hostilities.[2]

The Germans had an SS-Heimwehr force of 1500 men led by Police General[citation needed] Friedrich-Georg Eberhardt and 225 Marines under Lieutenant Wilhelm Henningsen to attack the depot. Overall command was handed to Rear-Admiral Gustav Kleikamp aboard the Schleswig-Holstein. He moved his ship farther upstream on August 26. Major Henryk Sucharski put his garrison on heightened alert.



Last Updated on Sunday, 16 October 2011 23:48
 
Select Activity
Select Region

Disclaimer: All content that this website host is provided by users and freelance editors. This means that we generally do not check the content accuracy, therefore we do not take any responsibility for this content. Similarly, we do not endorse any opinions expressed via our services, and we do not represent or guarantee the truthfulness, accuracy, or reliability of any submitted content. Instead, we simply provide access to the content that we feel may be interested to our visitors.
Google PageRank Checker