Poland 1939: The Outbreak of World War II

Roger Moorhouse. Basic, $30 (432p) ISBN 978-0-465-09538-4
Military historian Moorhouse (Berlin at War) revisits the opening campaign of WWII—the 1939 invasion of Poland—in this dense and exhaustive account. Contending that the Poles have long been rendered “nameless, voiceless victims, bit-part players in their own narrative,” Moorhouse uses diaries, memoirs, and archival documents to correct the historical record. Caught between Hitler’s determination to annex historically German regions lost under the Treaty of Versailles that brought an end to WWI and Stalin’s desire to seize territory guaranteed in the “secret protocol” of the German-Soviet nonaggression pact, Poland was doomed to be the first domino to fall, despite the valor of its armed forces. Moorhouse documents the implications of France and England’s refusal to send military aid (an estimated 200,000 Polish civilians and soldiers died in the two-front invasion) and describes how Germany’s blitzkrieg tactics, as well as its extensive bombing of towns and cities and refusal to distinguish combatants from noncombatants, foreshadowed the brutal nature of the war and the transformation of Poland into “a Nazi dystopia in which populations were expropriated, deported, or murdered on a whim.” Moorhouse successfully fills in the gaps of an episode that receives cursory treatment in most WWII narratives, but armchair historians may be overwhelmed by the level of detail. This granular account is for completists only. (July)
Reviewed on : 02/24/2020
Release date: 05/05/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-3274-2
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