Saturday, April 16, 2016

September 25, 1939: Black Monday for Warsaw

Monday 25 September 1939

Warsaw bombing
Warsaw after the bombing.
Battle of Poland: Following up on the previous day's terror raids on Warsaw, Luftflotte 1 conducts another massive raid on the city. In some ways, this raid is worse, because the city is even more defenseless than on the previous day. Major General Wolfram von Richthofen (the Red Baron's cousin), for General Kesselring, oversees the attack by some 400 planes dropping 500 tons of high explosives and 72 tons of incendiary bombs. In addition to the air raid, German artillery is now in position and adds to the devastation. Altogether, the Luftwaffe flies some 1,150 sorties, as the Luftwaffe bombers can easily land, re-load and re-fuel, and return for a second run. Everything available is sent up, including, for the last time, Junkers Ju 52 cargo planes carrying bombs. It is an early example of carpet-bombing. Some 25,000-40,000 people die, perhaps many more.

Due to Allied propaganda, the effects of the bombing are later somewhat exaggerated in the public mind. Indeed there is massive damage, but Warsaw is a huge city and the number of bombs dropped are paltry compared to many later raids on smaller targets. In addition, the smoke and fires from the incendiaries obscure the target, and many bombs are dropped to no purpose. Some of these, in fact, land on General von Bock's Army Group North infantry that are entering the city from the northwest suburbs. These cause Heer casualties in an early case of "friendly fire." The bombing results are heightened, however, due to the fact that this is the first such campaign against a large city, and techniques to minimize the consequences have not been developed. This, of course, also heightens the intended terror effect, which is really the main point of the raids in the first place.

The Luftwaffe campaign against Warsaw, stunningly effective as it is, also sends some warning signals to the Luftwaffe high command. The Luftwaffe's lack of strategic bombers with truly massive payloads is beginning to be noticed. Even 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) bombs, among the largest carried by the Luftwaffe, are unable to knock out bridges with accurate strikes. The fateful decision in the 1930s to cancel the Luftwaffe's four-engine bomber projects led to this situation. While there still may be time to resume large-bomber development, there seems to be no urgent need. These warnings go unheeded in the glare of the stunning success of the overall campaign.

Hitler does not care about such details or portents. He sees Warsaw being devastated and decides that it is time to start thinking ahead despite the fact that Warsaw has not been taken and large Polish formations remain in the field. He issues Directive No. 4, "Finishing the War in Poland."

Polish Government: President Moscicki and Marshall Smigly-Rydz are interned in Romania.

Western Front: French artillery bombards some German Rhine fortifications. Air battles occur over the Saar and between the RAF and the Luftwaffe. French aircraft bomb the Zeppelin base at Friedrichshafen, near the Swiss frontier.

Battle of the Atlantic: The Swedish steamer Silesia is torpedoed off Stavanger, which could develop into a serious diplomatic incident. The British begin laying anti-submarine mines in the Strait of Dover.

Germany Homefront: Germany begins the rationing of bread and flour. All German women between the ages of 17 and 25 are to be conscripted for obligatory national labor service. Several factories are damaged by bombs, and sabotage is suspected.

American Diplomacy: FDR invokes the Neutrality Act, which he is seeking to revise. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee considers legislation repealing an arms embargo on combating nations. This would allow the US to do business with Great Britain and France on a "cash and carry" basis.

American Homefront: The biggest news of the day is that a tropical storm hits San Pedro, California. Tropical storms almost never make landfall in the United States, and this is the only time during the century when one does.

Warsaw bombing
Sea crashing against a barrier at Long Beach in September 1939.

September 1939

September 1, 1939: Invasion of Poland
September 2, 1939: Danzig Annexed
September 3, 1939: France, Great Britain Declare War
September 4, 1939: First RAF Raid
September 5, 1939: The US Stays Out
September 6, 1939: Battle of Barking Creek
September 7, 1939: Polish HQ Bugs Out
September 8, 1939: War Crimes in Poland
September 9, 1939: The Empire Strikes Back
September 10, 1939: The Germans Break Out
September 11, 1939: Battle of Kałuszyn
September 12, 1939: The French Chicken Out
September 13, 1939: The Battle of Modlin
September 14, 1939: Germany Captures Gdynia
September 15, 1939: Warsaw Surrounded
September 16, 1939: Battle of Jaworów
September 17, 1939: Soviets Invade Poland
September 18, 1939: Lublin Falls
September 19, 1939: Germans, Soviets Hook Up
September 20, 1939: the Kraków Army Surrenders
September 21, 1939: Romania Convulses
September 22, 1939: Joint Soviet-German Military Parade
September 23, 1939: The Panama Conference
September 24, 1939: The Luftwaffe Bombs Warsaw
September 25, 1939: Black Monday for Warsaw
September 26, 1939: Warsaw on the Ropes
September 27, 1939: Hitler Decides to Invade France
September 28, 1939: Warsaw Capitulates
September 29, 1939: Modlin Fortress Falls
September 30, 1939: Graf Spee on the Loose


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