Polish Contribution To World War II
The European theater of World War II opened with the German invasion of Poland on Friday September 1, 1939(UK declared war on Sunday the 3rd). The Polish Army was defeated after over a month of fighting. After Poland had been overrun, a government-in-exile (headquartered in Britain), armed forces, and an intelligence service were established outside of Poland. These organizations contributed to the Allied effort throughout the war. The Polish Army was recreated in the West, as well as in the East (after German invasion of the Soviet Union).
Poles provided crucial help to the Allies throughout the war, fighting on land, on the seas and in the air. Notable was the service of the Polish Air Force, not only in the Allied victory in the Battle of Britain but also the subsequent war in the air. Polish ground troops were present in the North Africa Campaign (siege of Tobruk); the Italian campaign (including the capture of the monastery hill at the Battle of Monte Cassino); and in battles following the invasion of France (the battle of the Falaise pocket; and an airborne brigade parachute drop during Operation Market Garden). Some Polish contributions were less visible, and most notably included the prewar and wartime deciphering of German Enigma machine codes by cryptologists Marian Rejewski and his colleagues. The Polish intelligence network also proved to be of much value to the Allied intelligence.
As Hitler had decided that he could and would make Poland cease to exist, the Germans felt no inclination to set up a collaboration government such as that seen in France. Instead Poland was directly governed by a purely German administration known as the Generalgouvernement. Despite Hitler's abolition of Poland and his policy of considering Poles sub-human, a few thousand ethnic Poles did volunteer to be German collaborators in the Granatowa policja.
This administration was in turn opposed by the Polish Underground State, which not only fielded one of the three largest partisan forces in existence, but was a rare example of an underground government, a phenomenon not witnessed in many other occupied countries.
The Polish forces as a whole are considered to have been the 4th largest Allied army in Europe.
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