Monday, March 28, 2016

Polish Soldiers Captured by the Germans in 1939

This picture was taken by Hugo Jaeger and showing Polish soldiers captured by the Germans after the Battle of Westerplatte, 7 September 1939, where the German naval forces and soldiers and Danzig police assaulted the Polish Military Transit Depot (Wojskowa Składnica Tranzytowa, or WST) on the peninsula of Westerplatte, in the harbour of the Free City of Danzig, from 1 September 1939. The Poles held out for seven days in the face of a heavy attack that included dive bomber attacks. At 04:30 hours on the seventh day of the attack, the German warship Schleswig-Holstein began to shell Westerplatte again. Half an hour later, the German infantry attacked, but was forced to retreat. A renewed attempt to set fire to the forest failed. German heavy mortars joined in the assault, eliminating Guardhouse nr. 2 from the defence. To the Polish defenders, further fighting appeared to be pointless. All ammunition was expended. Moreover, the wounded in the cellars of the barracks were in deteriorating condition. Wound-dressings and medication were in short supply or lacking. The Polish garrison's commanding officer, Major Henryk Sucharski, decided to surrender. The soldiers gathered in front of the barracks for their last roll call, and then marched off to captivity. The Germans transported the wounded to hospitals in Gdańsk. The Polish officers were taken to Hotel Centralny, and the non-commissioned officers and privates to a temporary prison in the fortress on the Bischofsberg (today: Biskupia Góra). In recognition of his valour, Major Sucharski was allowed to carry his sabre in captivity. During the defence of Westerplatte, 15 Polish soldiers were killed and 26 wounded (although these figures may be incomplete). The German losses were estimated at 50 dead and 121 wounded.

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