Myths About the German Invasion of Poland – 1 September 1939

From: madefromhistory.com

On 1 September 1939 Adolf Hitler, reassured by his secret agreement (Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) with Stalin, launched a massive invasion of Poland. Scything through the Polish defences the Nazi juggernaut encountered little substantial resistance, and the intervention of the Soviet Union on 17 September sealed the fate of a plucky but doomed nation.

This account holds to the most general facts, but is coloured by a number of misconceptions, primarily that the Polish resistance was ephemeral and its forces totally outclassed by their German opponents. There are three myths in particular that require addressing:

Polish Cavalry Charged the Panzers

The myth that Polish cavalry units charged armoured Panzer divisions seems to reinforce the broader idea of a modern German force sweeping aside a weak, antiquated army. The image of lances glancing off the tank armour aptly encapsulates the futility of Polish resistance.

Polish Cavalry 1939

Polish Cavalry 1939

In its very convenience to the Nazi agenda lies the origins of this myth. It originates from a single event, fortuitously captured by journalists and distorted at the behest of the Germans.

Italian war correspondents at the Battle of Krojanty, where a Polish cavalry brigade was fired upon in ambush by Panzers after it had mounted a successful sabre-charge against German infantry, were encouraged to exaggerate the event. Duly it became an accepted and unexceptional account.

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Kesalahan Fatal Hitler Selama Perang Dunia ke 2

Kekalahan Jerman di dalam Perang Dunia Ke 2 sebagain besar (secara ironi) justru disebabkan oleh keputusan-keputusan Hitler sendiri. Hal tersebut diakibatkan karena Hitler terlalu mengikat negaranya dan terlalu mengambil keputusan-keputusan penting bahkan keputusan militer. Sayang sekali Hitler tidak mempunyai kekuatan sebesar itu untuk mengontrol seluruh aspek di dalam negaranya. Berikut ini adalah 5 kesalahan Hitler selama Perang Dunia ke 2:

1. Pengepungan Dunkirk

Penyerangan Jerman ke Perancis pada April 1940 nampak begitu menjanjikan. Pertahanan sekutu sepanjang perbatasan Belanda, Belgia dan Luxemburg runtuh hanya dalam hitungan hari. Pasukan dari ketiga negara itu mundur ke garis perbatasan baru, yaitu di sepanjang garis marginot lini di Perancis. Di sana, bala bantuan Inggrispun telah siap. Total, Inggris mengirim lebih dari dua ratus ribu pasukan ke Perancis. Sehingga membuat kekuatan gabungan sekutu berjumlah lebih dari 1,7 juta manusia. Jauh lebih besar dari pasukan Jerman yang diperkirakan hanya berjumlah 1.2 juta manusia.

Pengepungan Dunkrik (Sumber : Wikipedia)

Pengepungan Dunkirk
(Sumber : Wikipedia)

Terdapat lebih dari tiga ratus ribu pasukan yang terkurung di Kota kecil Dunkirk. Pasukan itu adalah kumpulan dari Pasukan Inggris, Perancis, Belgia, sebagian kecil Belanda, Luxemburg dan Polandia. Tidaklah jelas keputusan Hitler untuk menghentikan serangan di Dunkirk. Namun karena keputusannya inilah, tiga ratus ribu tentara sekutu berhasil lolos ke tanah Inggris. Inggris memprioritaskan penggungsian ini dengan mengirim ribuan kapal (sebagian besar merupakan kapal nelayan dan komersial) untuk menyelamatkan pasukan yang telah terdesak ini.

Proses Evakuasi Dunkrik Yang Kacau dan Kalang Kabut

Proses Evakuasi Dunkirk Yang Kacau dan Kalang Kabut

Apapun alasan Hitler, pertempuran Dunkirk adalah menjadi sebuah blunder Hitler yang pertama dan paling buruk sepanjang pertempuran. Tiga ratus ribu pasukan sekutu yang terdiri dari Inggris, Perancis, Polandia dan Belgia itu kemudian mampu menjadi bibit untuk pengembangan sekutu di masa mendatang. Pasukan inilah yang kemudian mengalahkan Rommel di Afrika Utara, pasukan ini juga yang berhasil mendepak Jerman dari Italia, mereka pulalah pasukan yang diterjunkan di Perancis Utara saat Operasi Normandy pada tahun 1944. Barangkali hal itu tidak terjadi atau setidaknya sulit terjadi jika pasukan yang terkepung di Dunkirk itu tidak lolos. Namun apa boleh buat. Keputusan Hitler yang dibuat pada Mei 1940 itu adalah bulat. Bahkan walaupun Jendral kawakan seperti Heinz Guderian menentang keras.

2. Battle of Britain

Battle of Britain atau pertempuran Inggris Raya dikenal sebagai salah satu pertempuran udara paling besar selama Perang Dunia ke 2. Battle of Britain sebenarnya hanyalah salah satu bagian dari Rencana penyerangan Hitler ke Inggris yang dikenal dengan Operasi Seelowe (Singa Laut). Operasi tersebut direncanakan akan berlangsung pada lewat pertengahan tahun 1940. Tergantung dari tanggapan Inggris terhadap inisiasi damai yang dilakukan oleh Jerman.

Rencana Jerman di Battle of Britain tahun 1940

Rencana Jerman di Battle of Britain tahun 1940

Kesalahan yang barangkali paling kentara adalah masalah VD – Victory Disease (Penyakit Kemenangan). Jerman sampai detik itu belum pernah sekalipun kalah dalam medan perang manapun. Bisa dikatakan juga bahwa Battle of Britain itu sendiri bukanlah sebuah kekalahan karena Jerman hanya gagal untuk menundukan kekuatan udara Inggris dan bukannya kalah. Kekalahan Jerman baru akan ada di babakan Perang Rusia, dua tahun kemudian di Stalingrad, hampir bersamaan dengan itu adalah kekalahan Jerman di Afrika Utara. Victory Disease menyebabkan tentara menjadi terlalu underestimates lawannya dan memandang rendah potensi kekuatan lawan. Inilah yang membuat pilot-pilot Jerman kemudian shock ketika melihat pilot-pilot udara Inggris yang ternyata juga jago bertarung di udara.  

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Hitler Invaded Poland – 75 Years of World War 2

From: fox.com

On September 1, 1939, the German army under Adolf Hitler launched an invasion of Poland that triggered the start of World War II (though by 1939 Japan and China were already at war). The battle for Poland only lasted about a month before a Nazi victory. But the invasion plunged the world into a war that would continue for almost six years and claim the lives of tens of millions of people.

Poland Invasion

Hitler salutes as he oversees troops during the Nazi occupation of Poland. The troops march in formation toward a wooden bridge, constructed by the Nazis across the San River, near Jarolaw, Poland

Today, 75 years later, Hitler is regarded as one of history’s great villains. So it’s easy to forget how slowly and reluctantly the worlds most powerful democracies mobilized to stop him. France and Britain did declare war on Germany two days after the invasion of Poland, but it would take them another eight months before they engaged in full-scale war with the Nazis. The United States wouldn’t join the war against Hitler until December 1941, a full two years after the war began.

Why did Adolf Hitler invade Poland?

The short answer is that Adolf Hitler was a ruthless dictator with dreams of conquering all of Europe. Annexing Poland was a step in that larger plan. The Polish military wasn’t powerful enough to resist him, and Hitler calculated — correctly, as it turns out — that Europe’s other powers wouldn’t intervene in time.

This map shows how World War I reshaped Europe. The red lines show the new borders drawn by the victorious Allies at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919

This map shows how World War I reshaped Europe. The red lines show the new borders drawn by the victorious Allies at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919

The invasion of Poland occurred almost exactly 25 years after the start of World War I in August 1914. That war ended in Germany’s defeat, and in 1919 the victorious allies carved up territory that had been part of Germany, Austria-Hungary (Germany’s defeated ally), and Russia (which had fallen to the Bolsheviks) into an array of new countries.

One of these new countries was Poland, which before 1919 had last existed as an independent nation in 1795. Another was Czechoslovakia — its awkward name reflects the Allies’ decision to combine areas dominated by two different ethnic groups, Czechs and Slovaks, into a single nation.

Hitler was contemptuous of these new nations, which he regarded as artificial creations of the Allies. There were significant German populations in both countries, and Hitler used trumped-up concern for their welfare as a pretext to demand territorial concessions.

In the infamous 1938 Munich Agreement, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain agreed to Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland, portions of of Czechoslovakia with ethnic-German majorities (Czechoslovakia itself was excluded from the negotiations). Chamberlain claimed that the deal had averted another massive European war, but it only delayed the conflict while making Hitler more powerful when the war finally came.

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Global Trends In Defence Economics 2013 – 2014

From: The Military Balance IISS

Global economic growth slowed from 5.1% in 2010 to 3.8% in 2011 and an estimated 3.3% in 2012, as advanced economies continued to struggle with high levels of sovereign, bank and household indebtedness. Heightened financial contagion emanating from the eurozone – the 17 countries using the euro as a common currency – adversely affected European growth, while the unwinding of various domestic stimulus packages enacted in Asia in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis served to limit the extent to which Asia was able to drive global demand. High oil prices, an anaemic US economic recovery, and the lagged effects of incremental monetary tightening instituted across Asia and Latin America throughout 2011 acted as further constraints to 2012 activity.

global-spending-changes

Global Spending Changes 2011 – 2012

Despite the global downshift, emerging economies in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America are projected to maintain steady rates of growth, while advanced economies continue to address the weakness of their public finances. According to the International Monetary Fund’s April 2012 World Economic Outlook,

Gross debt-to-GDP ratios will rise further in many advanced economies, with a particularly steep increase in the G7 economies, to about 130% by 2017. Without more action than currently planned, debt ratios are expected to reach 256% in Japan, 124% in Italy, close to 113% in the US and 91% in the euro area over the forecast horizon. … In a striking contrast, many emerging and developing economies will see a decline in debt-to-GDP ratios, with the overall ratio for the group dropping to below 30% by 2017.

Defence Spending 2011–12

Reflecting these macroeconomic trends, global defence spending fell in real terms for a second year running in 2012. After a 1.5% real reduction in 2011, real defence spending declined by a further 2.05% in 2012 (constant 2010 prices and exchange rates).

Despite the overall reduction, defence spending trends varied considerably across regions. Real defence spending rose in Asia by 2.44% in 2011, before accelerating to 4.94% in 2012. In a similar vein, real defence spending in Russia and Eurasia grew by 3.11% in 2011, before rising by 13.28% in 2012. In Latin America, after a 0.71% real reduction in 2011 regional spending (caused in part by higher-thanexpected rates of inflation), real defence spending grew in 2012 by 4.0%. Similarly, after high oil prices in 2011 contributed to greater-than-anticipated inflation in the Middle East and North Africa, real defence spending is estimated to have fallen by 3.06% in 2011, before rising by an estimated 4.57% in 2012.

 

nato-vs-asia-military-spending

NATO vs ASIA Military Spending

Meanwhile, defence austerity in Europe saw real defence spending in Europe decline in both 2011 and 2012, falling by 2.52% in 2011 and by a further 1.63% in 2012. In North America, real military spending declined by 2.6% in 2011, and a further 7.5% in 2012. Sub-Saharan Africa saw a 0.3% real decline in 2011 spending (2012 trend unavailable at time of publication due to incomplete data availability), and continued to account for just 1% of global defence spending. (Note: real figures used here are measured at constant 2010 prices and exchange rates, see Figure 1 for further details.) See also ‘Comparative Defence Statistics’, pp. 41–2.

Asian and European Spending Converges

These general macroeconomic and defence-spending trends illustrate a broader shift in the underlying balance of global defence spending. This is highlighted by the convergence between Asian and NATO European defence-spending levels since the onset of the financial crash of 2008. As shown in Figure 2, between 2005 and 2007 (i.e. prior to the 2008 financial crisis), nominal defence spending in Asia (excluding Australia and New Zealand) rose from around US$148.1 billion to US$178.4bn, an average annual rate of increase of 9.8%. Nominal defence spending in NATO Europe rose at a broadly similar rate over the same period – from US$252.7bn in 2005 to US$298.5bn in 2007, an average annual rate of increase of 8.8%.

However, after the 2008 financial crisis, a marked convergence began between Asian and NATO European spending levels. Nominal NATO European defence spending fell from a peak of US$305.6bn in 2008 to a post-crisis low of US$262.7bn in 2012, declining by an average of 3.6% per annum in each of the four years since the crisis. By contrast, nominal Asian defence spending post-2008 has continued to rise at just under pre-crisis rates, with spending increasing from US$207.4bn in 2008 to US$287.4bn in 2012, equivalent to an average annual growth rate of 8.6%. In the process, nominal Asian spending overtook that of NATO Europe, with the former rising from US$268.8bn in 2011 to US$287.4bn in 2012, while the latter fell from US$290.0bn in 2011 to US$262.7bn in 2012.

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Indonesia in Military Balance 2013 – 2014

From: The Military Balance IISS

Indonesia’s efforts to improve its armed forces’ capabilities are guided by the notion of a Minimum Essential Force (MEF), developed after concern that defence-funding levels in the 2000s had fallen below acceptable levels. Political and military leaders in Jakarta recognise the need to provide more substantial defences against external threats to Indonesia’s extensive maritime interests. But they are also aware of the need to avoid being entrapped in a regional arms race and unduly diverting national resources from crucial social and developmental spending.

Indonesia military troops stand in form

Civilian governments in Jakarta over the past decade have found it politically expedient to expand naval and air capabilities, as this has moved resources and influence away from the army, which dominated Indonesian politics from 1966–98 under President Suharto. However, the army has sought to retain its extensive territorial structure, which acts as an apparatus for intelligence-gathering and, its critics allege,indirect political influence throughout Indonesia.

The army has also worked to keep its role in maintaining internal security. The separatist wars in Timor Leste and Aceh have been resolved, via independence and political autonomy respectively, but a separatist struggle continues in West Papua and Indonesia’s armed forces are involved in suppressing this uprising.

Strategic Relations

Indonesia’s broad strategic alignment since the mid-1960s has been towards the West, although the country remains non-aligned. Western military sanctions during Indonesia’s occupation of Timor Leste between 1975–99 significantly affected the international outlook of its political and military elites. One outcome of this is Indonesia’s present reluctance to depend completely on Western sources of military equipment. This has led Jakarta to continue buying equipment from diverse sources, while using technology-transfer agreements with foreign suppliers to develop its defence industry.

During 2011–12, Indonesia reached agreement with the US on the supply of 24 F-16C/D combat aircraft. It will also maintain its Russian-supplied Su-27s and Su-30s while participating in South Korea’s K-FX project to develop an advanced combat aircraft.

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