David Knights' Weblog

April 30, 2009

Book Review: The Polish Campaign, 1939

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 6:00 am
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The Polish Campaign, 1939

By Steven Zaloga and Victor Madej

ISBN 0-88254-994-4




One of the reasons I have always enjoyed going to the AMPS national show when it is held in Harve de Grace, Maryland is that there is a really nice used bookstore there.  They have a larger than average selection of military related books.  This year I picked up this book.  I had never seen it before.  You don’t see much written on the brief Polish campaign and so I picked this book up for the bargain price of $8.50.


The first half of the book describes the Polish armed forces from the reformation of Poland after WWI up to the outbreak of WWII.  The book describes in detail the difficulties faced by the armed forces, mainly the army, in establishing and maintaining a viable armed force in the face of two potential enemies, Germany and the Soviet Union.  Poland was a poor country in the 1920s and 1930s, and had little GDP to devote to the equipping of her army.


The second half of the book examines the actual September campaign itself.  It points out that due to pressure from her allies, Poland had not fully mobilized her armed forces when the Germans attacked.  This meant that the Polish army was more outnumbered than even the raw imbalance in the number of divisions suggests.  Additionally, as has been noted in many places, the failure of Britain and France to begin active operations against Germany after they declared war allowed the Germans to devote nearly her entire army and air force to the destruction of Poland.  The book takes pains to point out that even thought they were outnumbered and seriously outgunned, the Poles gave a good account of themselves in the actual fighting, though the high command comes in for serious criticism regarding many of its decisions.  Finally, the book seeks to dispel such myths as the Polish cavalry charging tanks on horseback and the allegation that much of the Polish air force was caught and destroyed on the ground on the first day of the war.


This is a good book about a little discussed part of WWII history.  While it doesn’t really have much in it for the modeler, aside from some good photographs of Polish troops and equipment, it is an excellent read and fascinating for the history buff in all of us.


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