German invasion of Poland
Usually considered the start of the Second World War, the German invasion of Poland,code named Case White, began on 1 September 1939 after Germany had staged a Polish attack. At the orders of Adolf Hitler, had been planned by the Army General Staff (OKH) with relatively little involvement from the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW).
The campaign, which ended on 6 October, split Poland into three zones:
- Western: Warthegau, to be absorbed into Greater Germany
- Central: Generalgouvernement, treated as a German colony
- East: under Soviet control in accordance with the Secret Protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
Under the Army headquarters, headed by Field Marshal Walther von Brauchtisch, the main staff planner was Gen. Johannes Blaskowitz, who commanded the 8th Army in the invasion, part of Army Group South. German and allied forces were:
- Army Group North (Fedor von Bock)
- 3rd Army
- 4th Army
- Army Group South (Gerd von Rundstedt)
- 8th Army
- 10th Army
- 14th Army
- Slovakian Army Group
SS Einsatzgruppen followed the Army forces, although without as genocidal a mandate as they would have in the Russian campaign.
While France and Britain had pledged to support Poland, neither country could have intervened directly into Poland. France, however, could have struck into German,y, with an approximately 5 to 1 numerical superiority in ground tropps.