Battle of Westerplatte
The Battle of Westerplatte was the very first battle that took place after Germany invaded Poland
Invasion of Poland (1939)
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe...

 and World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 began in Europe. During the first week of September 1939, a Military Transit Depot
Train station
A train station, also called a railroad station or railway station and often shortened to just station,"Station" is commonly understood to mean "train station" unless otherwise qualified. This is evident from dictionary entries e.g...

 (Wojskowy Skład Transportowy, WST) on the peninsula
A peninsula is a piece of land that is bordered by water on three sides but connected to mainland. In many Germanic and Celtic languages and also in Baltic, Slavic and Hungarian, peninsulas are called "half-islands"....

 of Westerplatte
Westerplatte is a peninsula in Gdańsk, Poland, located on the Baltic Sea coast mouth of the Dead Vistula , in the Gdańsk harbour channel...

, manned by fewer than 200 Polish
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 soldiers, held out for seven days in the face of an overwhelming German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 attack. The defense of Westerplatte served as an inspiration for the Polish Army and people as the successful German advances continued elsewhere and today is still regarded as a symbol of resistance to the invasion.


In 1925 the Council of the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 allowed Poland to keep only 88 soldiers on Westerplatte, but secretly the garrison was gradually expanded to 176 men and six officers. The WST was separated from Free City of Danzig
Free City of Danzig
The Free City of Danzig was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig and surrounding areas....

 (Gdańsk) city by the harbour channel, with only a small pier
A pier is a raised structure, including bridge and building supports and walkways, over water, typically supported by widely spread piles or pillars...

 connecting them to the mainland; the Polish-held part of the Westerplatte was separated from the territory of Danzig by a brick wall. Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

s built at Westerplatte were in fact not very impressive: there were no real bunker
A military bunker is a hardened shelter, often buried partly or fully underground, designed to protect the inhabitants from falling bombs or other attacks...

s or underground tunnels, there were only five small concrete outposts (guardhouses) hidden in the peninsula's forest and the large barracks
Barracks are specialised buildings for permanent military accommodation; the word may apply to separate housing blocks or to complete complexes. Their main object is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training and esprit de corps. They were sometimes called...

 prepared for defense, supported by a network of field fortifications such as trench
A trench is a type of excavation or depression in the ground. Trenches are generally defined by being deeper than they are wide , and by being narrow compared to their length ....

es and barricade
Barricade, from the French barrique , is any object or structure that creates a barrier or obstacle to control, block passage or force the flow of traffic in the desired direction...

s. In case of war, the defenders were expected to withstand a sustained attack for 12 hours.


At the end of August 1939, the German pre-dreadnought battleship Schleswig-Holstein sailed to Danzig (Gdańsk) under the pretext of a courtesy visit and anchored in the channel 164 yards (150m) from Westerplatte. On board was a Shock troop
Shock troops
Shock troops or assault troops are formations created to lead an attack. "Shock troop" is a loose translation of the German word Stoßtrupp...

 (Stoßtruppen) assault company
Company (military unit)
A company is a military unit, typically consisting of 80–225 soldiers and usually commanded by a Captain, Major or Commandant. Most companies are formed of three to five platoons although the exact number may vary by country, unit type, and structure...

 with orders to launch an attack against the Westerplatte on the morning of August 26. However, shortly before disembarkation, the order to attack was rescinded. As a result of Britain and Poland having signed the Polish-British Common Defence Pact
Polish-British Common Defence Pact
The Anglo-Polish military alliance refers to agreements reached between the United Kingdom and the Polish Second Republic for mutual assistance in case of military invasion by "a European Power". According to the secret protocol added to the treaty the phrase "a European Power" used in the...

 on August 25, and also being informed that Italy was hesitant in fulfilling its obligations regarding the Pact of Steel
Pact of Steel
The Pact of Steel , known formally as the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy, was an agreement between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany signed on May 22, 1939, by the foreign ministers of each country and witnessed by Count Galeazzo Ciano for Italy and Joachim von Ribbentrop...

, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 postponed the opening of hostilities.

The Germans had an SS-Heimwehr force of 1500 men led by Police General Friedrich-Georg Eberhardt
Friedrich-Georg Eberhardt
Friedrich-Georg Eberhardt was a Generalleutnant in the Wehrmacht during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross...

 and 225 Marines under Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 Wilhelm Henningsen to attack the depot. Overall command was handed to Rear-Admiral Gustav Kleikamp aboard the Schleswig-Holstein. He moved his ship farther upstream on August 26. Major Henryk Sucharski
Henryk Sucharski
Henryk Sucharski was a Polish military officer and a major in the Polish Army. At the outbreak of World War II, he was one of the commanders of the Westerplatte position in Danzig, which troops under his command defended for seven days against overwhelming odds. Sucharski survived the war and was...

 put his garrison on heightened alert.


On September 1, 1939, at 0448 local time, Germany began its invasion of Poland
Invasion of Poland (1939)
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe...

, starting World War II; the Schleswig-Holstein suddenly opened broadside salvo fire on the Polish garrison held by 182 soldiers and 27 civilian reservist
A reservist is a person who is a member of a military reserve force. They are otherwise civilians, and in peacetime have careers outside the military. Reservists usually go for training on an annual basis to refresh their skills. This person is usually a former active-duty member of the armed...

s. Major Sucharski radioed Hel Peninsula "SOS: I'm under fire".
Three holes were made in the perimeter wall and oil warehouses were blazing in the southeastern sector. Eight minutes later, Lieutenant Wilhelm Henningsen's crack marines storm unit from the Schleswig-Holstein advanced in three platoons while the Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

's Pioneers blew up the railroad gate going on the land-bridge, expecting an easy victory over the surprised Poles. Staff Sergeant
Staff Sergeant
Staff sergeant is a rank of non-commissioned officer used in several countries.The origin of the name is that they were part of the staff of a British army regiment and paid at that level rather than as a member of a battalion or company.-Australia:...

 Wojciech Najsarek
Wojciech Najsarek
Wojciech Najsarek was a Polish soldier and a worker of the Polish State Railways. A headperson of the Gdańsk-Westerplatte train station, he was killed during the first minutes of the German attack on the Polish enclave of Westerplatte...

, a Polish soldier, was killed by machine-gun fire, the first victim of both the battle and war. However, soon after crossing the artillery-breached brick wall, the attackers suddenly came into a well-prepared ambush
An ambush is a long-established military tactic, in which the aggressors take advantage of concealment and the element of surprise to attack an unsuspecting enemy from concealed positions, such as among dense underbrush or behind hilltops...

. German soldiers found themselves caught in a kill zone of Polish crossfire from concealed firing points (the Germans believed they were also fired on by sniper
A sniper is a marksman who shoots targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the capabilities of regular personnel. Snipers typically have specialized training and distinct high-precision rifles....

s hidden in the trees, but in reality that was not the case), while barbed wire
Barbed wire
Barbed wire, also known as barb wire , is a type of fencing wire constructed with sharp edges or points arranged at intervals along the strand. It is used to construct inexpensive fences and is used atop walls surrounding secured property...

 entanglements effectively blocked quick movements. The Poles knocked out a machine gun nest at the German Schupo and Lt. Leon Pajak opened intense howitzer fire on the advancing Germans who faltered and stopped their attack. The Field gun knocked out sniper machine-gun nests on top of the warehouses across the canal and almost knocked out the Schleswig-Holstein's command post but was destroyed by the ship's guns.:

"The tactics of outpost commanders, who lured the Germans into a fire trap, letting them advance into the line of fire, contributed to these heavy losses. The Polish mortar
Mortar (weapon)
A mortar is an indirect fire weapon that fires explosive projectiles known as bombs at low velocities, short ranges, and high-arcing ballistic trajectories. It is typically muzzle-loading and has a barrel length less than 15 times its caliber....

 fire, guided precisely by observers from protruding positions, added to the destruction. The system of barriers secretly prepared by the WST soldiers in the spring and summer of 1939 made it difficult for the Germans to move around the park that was Westerplatte (once a popular spa)."

At 0622, the Marines frantically radioed the ship they had heavy losses and were withdrawing, Danzig Police had tried to seize control of the harbor on the other side of Westerplatte but were defeated. Casualties were 50 Germans and 8 Poles. The Germans tried again at 0855 but met mines, fallen trees, barbed wire and intense fire. By noon the SS men fled and Henningsen was mortally wounded. The initial assault was crushed and a second attack that morning (after an artillery barrage
Barrage may refer to:In music* Barrage , a Canadian violin ensemble, or* Barrage , their self-titled debut albumIn engineering...

 of 90 280 mm shells, 407 170 mm shells and 366 88 mm shells) was repelled as well, the Germans suffering unexpectedly high losses. The Poles eventually retreated from the Wał and Prom outposts (and for a time also from Fort), tightening the ring of defence around the New Barracks in the centre of the peninsula. On the first day of combat, the Polish side lost one man killed and seven wounded (three died later, including two of them who were captured and died in a German hospital). On the other side, the German naval infantry lost 16 killed in action and some 120 wounded (injuries of various gravity), the majority out of the 225 men deployed. The German losses would have been even greater if not for the order by the Polish commander, Major Henryk Sucharski, for the mortar crews to cease fire in order to conserve ammunition, issued after firing just a few salvos (because of this order only 104 out of their 860 shells were spent when the mortars were destroyed on the next day).

On the following days, the Germans bombarded the peninsula with naval
Naval artillery
Naval artillery, or naval riflery, is artillery mounted on a warship for use in naval warfare. Naval artillery has historically been used to engage either other ships, or targets on land; in the latter role it is currently termed naval gunfire fire support...

 and heavy field artillery
Field artillery
Field artillery is a category of mobile artillery used to support armies in the field. These weapons are specialized for mobility, tactical proficiency, long range, short range and extremely long range target engagement....

, including a 210 mm howitzer
A howitzer is a type of artillery piece characterized by a relatively short barrel and the use of comparatively small propellant charges to propel projectiles at relatively high trajectories, with a steep angle of descent...

, turning it into World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

-style moonscape. Eberhardt convinced General Fedor von Bock a ground attack was not possible. A devastating two-wave air raid by 60 Junkers Ju 87
Junkers Ju 87
The Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka was a two-man German ground-attack aircraft...

 Stuka dive-bombers on September 2 (the total of 26.5 tons of bombs) took out the Polish mortars, directly hit guardhouse 5 (destroying it completely with a 500 kg bomb) and killed at least eight Polish soldiers; the air raid covered the whole area of Westerplatte in enormous clouds of smoke and destroyed their only radio and all their food supplies; German observers believed that no one could possibly have survived such bombing. On the night of 3–4 September more German attacks were repelled. On September 4 a German torpedo boat (T-196) made a surprise attack from the seaside. The "Wal" post had been abandoned and now only "Fort" position prevented an attack from the north side. On September 5, a shell-shocked
Combat stress reaction
Combat stress reaction , in the past commonly known as shell shock or battle fatigue, is a range of behaviours resulting from the stress of battle which decrease the combatant's fighting efficiency. The most common symptoms are fatigue, slower reaction times, indecision, disconnection from one's...

 Sucharski held a war council which urged Westerplatte to surrender; his deputy, Captain Franciszek Dąbrowski
Franciszek Dąbrowski
Franciszek Dąbrowski – was an officer of the Polish Navy during the Polish Defensive War against the Nazi German aggression in 1939. In September 1939 he served at Westerplatte military transit depot which took part in the Battle of Westerplatte...

, briefly took over command. Several cautious probing attacks by the German naval infantry, Danzig SS and police and Wehrmacht were again repulsed by the Poles; at 0300, during one of these attacks, they sent a burning train against the land bridge, but this failed when the terrified driver decoupled too early. It failed to reach the oil cistern and set ablaze the forest, valuable for cover. The flaming wagons gave a perfect field of fire and the Germans suffered heavy losses. A second fire-train attack came in the afternoon but it too failed. In the meantime, Polskie Radio
Polskie Radio
Polskie Radio Spółka Akcyjna is Poland's national publicly funded radio broadcasting organization.- History :Polskie Radio was founded on 18 August 1925 and began making regular broadcasts from Warsaw on 18 April 1926....

 continuously broadcast the message "Westerplatte still fights on" each morning of the battle. A second war council was held and the Major was set to surrender; the German Army was now outside Warsaw and gangrene
Gangrene is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that arises when a considerable mass of body tissue dies . This may occur after an injury or infection, or in people suffering from any chronic health problem affecting blood circulation. The primary cause of gangrene is reduced blood...

 had started to appear among the wounded. At 0430 September 7, the Germans opened intense fire on Westerplatte which lasted to 0700. Flamethrowers destroyed Guardhouse 2 and damaged 1 and 4. The besieged garrison lacked sufficient water and medical supplies; Cpt. Mieczysław Słaby, the WST medical officer, was unable to maintain basic care of wounded soldiers.

At 0945 the white flag appeared; the Polish defense had impressed the Germans so much that the German commander, General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 Friedrich-Georg Eberhardt, allowed Sucharski to retain his ceremonial szabla
Szabla is the Polish word for sabre. It specifically refers to an Eastern European one-edged sabre-like mêlée weapon with a curved blade and, in most cases, a two-bladed tip called a feather . Initially used by light cavalry, with time it also evolved into a variety of arms used both for martial...

 (Polish sabre
The sabre or saber is a kind of backsword that usually has a curved, single-edged blade and a rather large hand guard, covering the knuckles of the hand as well as the thumb and forefinger...

) in captivity (it was apparently confiscated later). At the same time Polish wireless operator Kazimierz Rasiński was murdered by Germans after the capitulation; after brutal interrogation, he had refused to hand over radio codes and was shot.

Sucharski surrendered the post to Kleikamp and the Germans paraded in full order when the Polish garrison marched out, still proud and erect. In all, approximately 3,400 Germans were tied up by being engaged in the week-long action against the small Polish garrison.


The exact figures of German losses remain unknown, but are now often estimated to be in range of 200 to 300 killed and wounded or sometimes more. Some of them might actually have been hit by friendly fire
Friendly fire
Friendly fire is inadvertent firing towards one's own or otherwise friendly forces while attempting to engage enemy forces, particularly where this results in injury or death. A death resulting from a negligent discharge is not considered friendly fire...

, in particular from the battleship, which was initially anchored too close to its target. Polish casualties were much lower, including 15 to 20 killed and 53 wounded. There is a controversy regarding the burial site discovered in 1940, containing the bodies of five unidentified Polish soldiers who were possibly executed by their comrades for attempted desertion
In military terminology, desertion is the abandonment of a "duty" or post without permission and is done with the intention of not returning...

. Eight of the prisoners of war are also said to have been tortured, and did not survive German captivity.

Further controversy surrounds the Polish garrison's commanding officer, Major Henryk Sucharski
Henryk Sucharski
Henryk Sucharski was a Polish military officer and a major in the Polish Army. At the outbreak of World War II, he was one of the commanders of the Westerplatte position in Danzig, which troops under his command defended for seven days against overwhelming odds. Sucharski survived the war and was...

, and the executive officer
Executive officer
An executive officer is generally a person responsible for running an organization, although the exact nature of the role varies depending on the organization.-Administrative law:...

, Captain Franciszek Dąbrowski. Major Sucharski
Henryk Sucharski
Henryk Sucharski was a Polish military officer and a major in the Polish Army. At the outbreak of World War II, he was one of the commanders of the Westerplatte position in Danzig, which troops under his command defended for seven days against overwhelming odds. Sucharski survived the war and was...

, who survived the war but died in 1946, was promoted to the rank of generał brygady and given the highest Polish military award of Virtuti Militari
Virtuti Militari
The Order Wojenny Virtuti Militari is Poland's highest military decoration for heroism and courage in the face of the enemy at war...

, although he became a very controversial figure more recently as the previously-unknown account about his role in the battle were uncovered in the 1990s (after the death of Captain Dąbrowski, as the other Polish officers vowed among themselves for their honor to not disclose in their lifetimes that their nominal commander was shell-shocked for the most of the battle). The Westerplatte became the subject of a quasi-historical dispute, which Dr. Janusz Marszalec from the Institute of National Remembrance
Institute of National Remembrance
Institute of National Remembrance — Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation is a Polish government-affiliated research institute with lustration prerogatives and prosecution powers founded by specific legislation. It specialises in the legal and historical sciences and...

 summarized with the following:

"It (the dispute) centres on the question of who commanded the defence of Westerplatte, Maj. Henryk Sucharski
Henryk Sucharski
Henryk Sucharski was a Polish military officer and a major in the Polish Army. At the outbreak of World War II, he was one of the commanders of the Westerplatte position in Danzig, which troops under his command defended for seven days against overwhelming odds. Sucharski survived the war and was...

 or Cpt. Dąbrowski. Interestingly, this dispute does not involve historians since it is not taking place as an academic debate. It is the domain of disputes of people passionate about history on the internet and in the press, in an atmosphere of gradual and consistent repetition of various unconfirmed sources. They tend to fall into emotional states of elevation and passion, during which it is difficult to apply the principles of sine ira et studio
Sine ira et studio
Sine ira et studio is a Latin term meaning "without anger and fondness" or "without hate and zealousness". It was coined by Roman historian Tacitus in the introduction to his Annals 1.1., which can be translated as follows:...

. This dispute has gone so far beyond its narrow circle of fans of the internet, moving into the mass media as a dispute over a film script and the spending of public money on a film which aims to show the new 'truth' about the defence of Westerplatte. Without a detailed analysis of this project, one can only stress that it has nothing in common with the confirmed state of knowledge about the history of the defence of the WST Westerplatte in September 1939....Regardless of the disputes, Sucharski
Henryk Sucharski
Henryk Sucharski was a Polish military officer and a major in the Polish Army. At the outbreak of World War II, he was one of the commanders of the Westerplatte position in Danzig, which troops under his command defended for seven days against overwhelming odds. Sucharski survived the war and was...

 and the two hundred other defenders of the WST will remain in the circle of good memory, regardless of whether they wanted to defend it to their last bullet, or whether they contemplated putting down arms already after 12 hours of the first shot of the Schleswig-Holstein on 1 September 1939."

Already during the war the defense of Westerplatte served as an inspiration for the Polish Army and people as the successful German advances continued elsewhere and even today is still regarded as a symbol of resistance to the invasion; a Polish Thermopylae
Thermopylae is a location in Greece where a narrow coastal passage existed in antiquity. It derives its name from its hot sulphur springs. "Hot gates" is also "the place of hot springs and cavernous entrances to Hades"....

. The Polish poet Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński wrote a widely known poem about this battle, Pieśń o żołnierzach Westerplatte ("A Song of the Soldiers of Westerplatte"). The poem reflected a widespread Polish myth of the later years of the WWII that all of defenders died in the battle, fighting to the last man. A Polish People's Army military unit was named in 1943 in memory of the soldiers (Polish 1st Armoured Brigade of the defenders of Westerplatte
1st Armoured Brigade (Poland)
Polish 1st Armoured Brigade of the defenders of Westerplatte or Polish 1st Warsaw Armoured Brigade was a military unit in the Ludowe Wojsko Polskie...

). In the years after war, several dozen schools and several ships in Poland were also named after the "Heroes of Westerplatte" or "Defenders of Westerplatte". The ruins of the peninsula's barracks and guardhouses still survive today. After the war one of the guardhouses, which had actually been moved several hundred yards inland, was converted into a museum
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...

; two shells from the Schleswig-Holsteins 280 mm guns prop up its entrance.

Order of battle


The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

  • Pre-Dreadnought Battleship Schleswig-Holstein
  • Two torpedo boat
    Torpedo boat
    A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval vessel designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs rammed enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes, and later designs launched self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes. They were created to counter battleships and other large, slow and...

    s: T-196 and T-963

Eberhardt group:
  • 3. Marine-Stoßtrupp-Kompanie (elite naval infantry company, later renamed Marine-Artillerie-Abteilung 531) and an attached Pioneer platoon from Dessau-Roßlau
    ' is an independent city and urban district in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. It is situated at the confluence of the rivers Elbe and Mulde. The town was formed by merger of the independent city of Dessau with the town of Roßlau in the course of the Kreisreform Sachsen-Anhalt on 1 July 2007...

  • An independent howitzer battalion
    A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

  • Küstenschutz der Danziger Polizei
    Polizei is the German word for police. It might refer to:-National agencies:*Bundespolizei - Federal Police of Germany*Bundespolizei - Federal Police of Austria*Bundeskriminalamt - Federal Criminal Office of Germany, comparable to the FBI...

     (a coast guard
    Coast guard
    A coast guard or coastguard is a national organization responsible for various services at sea. However the term implies widely different responsibilities in different countries, from being a heavily armed military force with customs and security duties to being a volunteer organization tasked with...

     unit of the Danzig police) and Ordnungspolizei
    The Ordnungspolizei or Orpo were the uniformed regular police force in Nazi Germany between 1936 and 1945. It was increasingly absorbed into the Nazi police system. Owing to their green uniforms, they were also referred to as Grüne Polizei...

    's Landespolizei
    thumb|[[Germany|German]] police officer in [[Hamburg]]The Landespolizei are the main police forces of Germany. They are under the sole jurisdiction, funded and operated by the states of Germany.-History:...

  • SS Heimwehr Danzig
    SS Heimwehr Danzig
    SS Heimwehr "Danzig" was an SS unit established in the Free City of Danzig before the Second World War. It fought with the German army against the Polish Army during the invasion of Poland...

     (the local SS militia force), including SS Wachsturmbann Eimann (already part of the forming 3rd SS Division Totenkopf
    3rd SS Division Totenkopf
    The SS Division Totenkopf , also known as 3. SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Totenkopf and 3. SS-Panzer-Division Totenkopf, was one of the 38 divisions fielded by the Waffen-SS during World War II. Prior to achieving division status, the formation was known as Kampfgruppe Eicke...

  • Other forces

Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

  • II & III Gruppe StG 2 Immelmann
    Sturzkampfgeschwader 2
    Sturzkampfgeschwader 2 Immelmann was a Luftwaffe Dive bomber-wing of World War II. It was named after Max Immelmann in 1939.The unit was originally formed as Fliegergruppe Schwerin in 1934; the first Stuka wing of its type, attaining the sobriquet 'Immelmann' in 1935...

  • 4.(St)/TrGr 186

In all, some 40-60 Junkers Ju 87 Stuka bombers and seven other aircraft (Heinkel He 51
Heinkel He 51
-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Donald, David, ed. Warplanes of the Luftwaffe. London: Aerospace, 1994. ISBN 1-874023-56-5.* Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. "The Cadre Creator...Heinkel's Last Fighting Biplane". Air Enthusiast No. 36, May-August 1988. pp. 11–24. ISSN 0143-5450.*...

 and Junkers Ju 52
Junkers Ju 52
The Junkers Ju 52 was a German transport aircraft manufactured from 1932 to 1945. It saw both civilian and military service during the 1930s and 1940s. In a civilian role, it flew with over 12 air carriers including Swissair and Deutsche Luft Hansa as an airliner and freight hauler...

) were involved in the siege of Westerplatte.

German land forces were armed with several ADGZ
The ADGZ was originally developed as a heavy armored car for the Austrian army from 1934 and delivered from 1935-37.-History:...

 heavy armoured cars, about 65 artillery pieces (2 cm FlaK 30
2 cm FlaK 30
The Flak 30 and improved Flak 38 were 20 mm anti-aircraft guns used by various German forces throughout the Second World War. It was not only the primary German light anti-aircraft gun, but by far the most numerously produced German artillery piece throughout the war...

 anti-aircraft guns, 3.7 cm PaK 36 anti-tank guns, 10.5 cm leFH 18
10.5 cm leFH 18
-History:The 10.5 cm leFH 18 was the standard divisional field howitzer used by the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. It was designed and developed by Rheinmetall in 1929-30 and entered service with the Wehrmacht in 1935. Generally it did not equip independent artillery battalions until...

 light howitzers and 21 cm Mörser 18
21 cm Mörser 18
The 21 cm Mörser 18 was a German heavy howitzer used in the Second World War by independent artillery battalions and batteries. A number were also used by coast defense artillery units.-Design & History:...

 heavy howitzers), over 100 machine guns, an unknown number of medium mortars and Flammenwerfer 35
Flammenwerfer 35
The Flammenwerfer 35, or FmW 35 was the one-man German flamethrower used during World War II used to clear out trenches and buildings. This was a deadly weapon that was extremely effective at close range...

A flamethrower is a mechanical device designed to project a long controllable stream of fire.Some flamethrowers project a stream of ignited flammable liquid; some project a long gas flame. Most military flamethrowers use liquids, but commercial flamethrowers tend to use high-pressure propane and...



By August 1939, the garrison of Westerplatte had increased to 182 soldiers and 27 civilian reservist
A reservist is a person who is a member of a military reserve force. They are otherwise civilians, and in peacetime have careers outside the military. Reservists usually go for training on an annual basis to refresh their skills. This person is usually a former active-duty member of the armed...

s conscripted into service after the breakout of hostilities.

The WST was armed with one 75 mm 75 mm wz. 02/26
Canon de 75 modèle 1897
The French 75mm field gun was a quick-firing field artillery piece adopted in March 1898. Its official French designation was: Matériel de 75mm Mle 1897. It was commonly known as the French 75, simply the 75 and Soixante-Quinze .The French 75 is widely regarded as the first modern artillery piece...

 field gun, two Bofors 37 mm wz. 36
Bofors 37 mm
The Bofors 37 mm gun was an anti-tank gun designed by Swedish manufacturer Bofors in the early 1930s. Licensed copies were produced in a number of countries. The gun was used by some European armies during World War II, mainly at the early stage of the war.-Development history:The gun was...

 anti-tank guns, and four Stokes 81 mm wz. 31
Stokes Mortar
The Stokes mortar was a British trench mortar invented by Sir Wilfred Stokes KBE which was issued to the British Army and the Commonwealth armies during the latter half of the First World War.-History:...

 medium mortars. The strong side of the garrison was a disproportionately large number of machine guns at their disposal (41 machine guns, including 16 heavy machine gun
Heavy machine gun
The heavy machine gun or HMG is a larger class of machine gun generally recognized to refer to two separate stages of machine gun development. The term was originally used to refer to the early generation of machine guns which came into widespread use in World War I...

s). They had also 160 rifles, 40 pistols and over 1,000 hand grenades.

See also

  • Battle of Hel
    Battle of Hel
    The Battle of Hel was one of the longest battles of the Invasion of Poland during World War II.The Hel Peninsula, together with the town of Hel, was the pocket of Polish Army resistance that held out the longest against the German invasion...

  • Bombing of Wieluń
    Bombing of Wielun
    The bombing of Wieluń refers to the bombing of the Polish town of Wieluń by the German Luftwaffe on 1 September 1939. The Luftwaffe started bombing Wielun at 4:40 am, five minutes before the shelling of Westerplatte, which has traditionally been considered the beginning of World War II. It is...

  • Defense of the Polish Post Office in Danzig
    Defense of the Polish Post Office in Danzig
    The Defense of the Polish Post Office in Danzig was one of the first acts of World War II in Europe, as part of the Invasion of Poland....

  • Battle of Wizna
    Battle of Wizna
    The Battle of Wizna was fought between September 7 and September 10, 1939, between the forces of Poland and Germany during the initial stages of Invasion of Poland. It was arguably the most heroic battle in the campaign, in which 720 Poles defended a fortified line for three days against more than...

  • Henryk Sucharski
    Henryk Sucharski
    Henryk Sucharski was a Polish military officer and a major in the Polish Army. At the outbreak of World War II, he was one of the commanders of the Westerplatte position in Danzig, which troops under his command defended for seven days against overwhelming odds. Sucharski survived the war and was...

  • Westerplatte
    Westerplatte (film)
    Westerplatte is a Polish historical film. It was released in 1967....

External links

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