A Brief History
On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland under false pretenses, staging a phony border “incident” that gave them a claim of legitimacy. Little remembered by the public at large, was that Germany had an ally that also took part in that invasion.
No, we are not talking about the Soviet Union, with their infamous “stab in the back” attack on Poland on September 17, 1939, after Germany had invaded. We are referring to Slovakia, a fellow Slavic country with people sharing similar language and cultural traits with the Poles.
The Slovak Republic contributed about 50,000 men, arranged in 3 divisions, to the invasion of Poland. Plus, the Slovaks allowed Germany to use Slovakia as a staging area for their troops ahead of the invasion. The reason for Slovak involvement concerned territory given to Poland after the Munich Agreement of 1938.
Slovakia suffered just under 200 total casualties in the invasion, as well as losing 2 aircraft. Slovakia was rewarded with the disputed territory they sought, but in 1945 when the Allies had won the war, Poland got the territory back. As no declaration of war between Slovakia and Poland had been made, no treaty ending the war was ever signed.
Question for students (and subscribers): Do you believe Germany, Slovakia, or the USSR was justified in invading Poland in 1939? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Moorhouse, Roger. Poland 1939: The Outbreak of World War II. Basic Books, 2020.
Russ, William. Case White: The German Army in the Polish Campaign – September 1939. Winged Hussar Publishing, 2018.
The featured image in this article, 1939 set of maps from Fortune Magazine illustrating the German invasion of Poland in World War II, is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1927 and 1963, and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed. For further explanation, see Commons:Hirtle chart and the copyright renewal logs.
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