German War Plan

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The fundamental concept of the German plan was to fight a short war that would be over before the British or French armies could get into action-over, in fact, before the Western powers could even make up their minds to fight. The plan was given its final form in an operation order issued by the Army High Command (Oberkommando des Heeres or OKH) on June 15. The order provided for two groups of armies, Army Group North commanded by Col. Gen. (later Field Marshal) Fedor von Bock and Army Group South under Col. Gen. (later Field Marshal) Gerd von Rundstedt.

Army Group North was to strike eastward from Pomerania (Pomorze) into the Polish Corridor with one of its two armies, the Fourth Army. The other, the Third Army, would strike westward from East Prussia into the corridor and southward toward Warsaw (Warszawa). When the armies had made contact in the corridor, they would both turn their full strength toward the capital. Army Group South, with the Eighth, Tenth, and Fourteenth armies, was to advance to the northeast from Silesia and Slovakia. The Tenth Army, the strongest of the three, would strike directly toward Warsaw, while the Eighth and Fourteenth armies covered its left and right flanks, respectively. The junction of the Tenth Army with elements of Army Group North at Warsaw would complete the encirclement of any forces in western Poland that had not been destroyed before then. This presumably would end the war. Bock proposed extending the arms of the encirclement east of Warsaw to prevent Polish troops’ escaping into the Pripet (Pripyat) Marshes, but nothing was done about this suggestion until after the campaign had begun.

The strength of Army Group North was 630,000 men; that of Army Group South, 886,000. Army Group North was supported by the First Air Force, which controlled 500 bombers, 180 dive bombers (Stukas ), and 120 fighters. The Fourth Air Force supported Army Group South with 310 bombers, 160 dive bombers, and 120 fighters. The Air Force High Command (Oberkommando der Luftwaffe or OKL) held in reserve 250 Ju-52 transports for paratroop operations. The navy intended to use the World War I battleship Schleswig-Holstein, 3 cruisers, and two flotillas of destroyers to bombard shore installations at Gdynia and Hel (Hela) .

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Polish Defense Plan

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Approach to Conflict : War in Poland

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