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The Polish-German War was an armed conflict that took place in Europe from 1940 to 1942 between the invading German Empire and an alliance of the invaded country, Poland, with the United Kingdom, France and Italy. Under the influence of Hitlerism, Sweden also sided briefly with Germany.
The war broke out in northern Poland and Germany, but later expanded to other locations of Europe, such as France, the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, and the Skagerrak Strait.
Germany declared war on Poland on 4 August 1940 in order to connect its territory to the Polish enclave of Danzig, after peaceful negotiations had failed. The invasion was initially successful, with Germany occupying all of Poland's coastal areas and connecting its territory to Danzig. However, since such act violated the Treaty of Versailles signed by Germany at the end of the Great War, response from Western European powers was quick. An alliance composed of Britain, France and Italy declared war on Germany on 13 August, shortly after the surrender of the Polish forces and before any territory-changing treaty could be signed between Germany and Poland.
Throughout much of August and September, Germany successfully defended its home and occupied territories from enemy invasions, but its defence started to weaken by early October and it soon lost large areas to France and Italy near their respective borders. Germany started to seek military help from the Germanic League, but the members did not want to be involved in a war, as their co-operation was mostly economic and cultural. However, Sweden eventually agreed to take part in the conflict and declared war on the Franco-Italo-British alliance on 9 October.
With help from Sweden, Germany recovered much of its northern territories lost to Britain. This included several battles disputed solely between British and Swedish forces, such as the Battle of Kiel. Germany later managed to recover its lost territories from Italy and France. By mid-December, Germany had regained control of its all its home territory. Sweden, however, had to left the war as it was becoming too costly and starting to deteriorate its international image. Germany again sought military assistance from the Germanic League, but this time it was unsuccessful.
The Alliance seized the opportunity to strategically attack German areas previously protected by Sweden, but all these attacks ultimately failed due to a number of factors.
By the beginning of the year, the conflict started to slow down. Very few shots were fired from January to May, despite the war being officially still ongoing. There were no changes in the frontlines in that period.
On 23 May, the Germans launched a failed attempt to invade Paris, which triggered a violent response from France and Britain that resumed the war to the same scale it was before. Despite German military stability, popular support for the war was very low and several unhappy German citizens began to leave the country, causing the number of both conscripts and volunteers to diminish, together with the amount of equipment and supplements. This was the turning point of the war, after which Germany began losing large portions of its territory again and failed in almost all attempts to regain them. Through successful naval invasions, Britain liberated the occupied coast of Poland on 18 June and transferred it back to the Polish government.
By August, most major German cities near the coast and the borders with the Alliance were occupied. A Franco-British Siege of Berlin on 12 September was, for many, the last definitive loss for Germany. Most expected a German surrender after this, but the Empire kept repelling all Allied advances, with Hamburg as its new war capital.
Despite German military disadvantages and unhappy populace, the German Army was portrayed in a positive light in the media across other Germanic countries, especially Sweden, due to the influence of Hitlerism. This view ended up spreading internationally, including to the United States, whose citizens also began to view the Alliance as villains who attempted to thwart Germany's rightful claims. The Alliance, consequently, lost international financial support. Inside Germany, however, the war was still very unpopular and the resources remained scarce. With the two sides suffering lack of support and resources, but still willing to take advantage of the enemy because of this, the war again entered a period of stagnation, with very few shots fired for several months. In the British-occupied Berlin, there were numerous protests to end the war.
In France, Philippe Pétain started an intense military recruitment program to invade Hamburg and end the war "once and for all". At the same time, a movement stating that liberating Berlin was the top important goal rose in German politics, going against the popular anti-war opinion, while Hamburg had one of the largest military presences ever seen in history, with thousands of soldiers patrolling the streets day and night. Early in 1942, many were expecting that a bloody battle would inevitably take place in Hamburg.
On 28 January, Winston Churchill gave a famous, memorable speech in which the stated that bloodshed should be avoided "at all costs" and was not the only way to end the war. He supported negotiations and other strategic, non-violent ways to convince Germany to give up the war. For several months, the French newly fortified army had many advantage points to advance towards southwestern Germany and to attack the northwest by sea, but no shot was fired since Churchill insisted that diplomacy was the best way.
On 13 May 1942, after several months of intense negotiations, the Treaty of Gdańsk was signed, finally ending the Polish-German War. The city of Gdańsk (formerly Danzig) became part of Poland. Since then, the German Armed Forces are defensive-only and the country is officially prohibited from declaring war.