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Posted on 2008-05-11. By anonymous.
Although various Luftwaffe campaigns are discussed in this book, I limit my review to the German blitzkrieg against Poland in 1939. This review is based on the original (1968) edition. What has found its way into innumerable books and encyclopedias is a canard. Bekker comments: "Despite all assertions to the contrary, the Polish Air Force was not destroyed on the ground in the first two days of fighting. The bomber brigade in particular continued to make determined attacks on the German forces up to September 16th. However, the Polish aircraft, inferior both in numbers and in design, could hardly contest the supremacy of the Luftwaffe in the air." (p. 59).
The Polish aircraft had previously been scattered to secret airfields and camouflaged (there are photos--not in this book--of the planes covered with sod or branches). So what did the Luftwaffe's first-day hoped-for knockout blow against the Polish Air Force actually accomplish? Not much, according to a secret report cited by Bekker: "All the aircraft destroyed on the ground were old training machines...As for the attacks on the aircraft industry, they had done more harm than good, for now the Germans could not use it themselves. The report, of course, remained top secret. The public was kept in complete ignorance. They were told only of the non-stop bombing raids, the peerless power of the Luftwaffe, and above all the morale-shattering effect of the dive bomber." (p. 38)
Despite the extreme asymmetry favoring the Germans (using modern terms), the conquest of Poland was no cakewalk. Bekker continues: "The `lightning campaign' against Poland was no easy undertaking. The Poles put up stubborn resistance, and although the campaign lasted only four weeks in all [actually five--not counting subsequent large-scale guerilla warfare], the Luftwaffe lost during this time no less than 743 men and 285 aircraft, including 109 bombers and Stukas...(p. 59). An additional 279 German aircraft were damaged enough to be reckoned lost (p. 364). It is sobering to realize that the German enemy had a greater respect for the Polish fighting forces than did the English and American Allies!
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