1st Mountain Division (Wehrmacht)
The 1st Mountain Division was an elite formation of the German Wehrmacht during World War II, is remembered for its involvement in multiple large-scale war crimes. It was created on 9 April 1938 in Garmisch Partenkirchen from the Mountain Brigade, itself formed on 1 June 1935; the division consisted of Bavarians and some Austrians. The 1st Mountain Division fought in the Invasion of Poland as a part of Army Group South and distinguished itself during fighting in the Carpathians and at Lwów, it subsequently took part in the Battle of France and was selected to take part in the planned operations against the United Kingdom and Gibraltar but both operations were cancelled. With Felix cancelled, the division took part in the Invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941 as part of the 2nd Army; the 1st Mountain Division participated in Operation Barbarossa. On 30 June, the division captured Lvov. There, the Germans discovered several thousand bodies of prisoners, executed by the NKVD, as they could not be evacuated.
The 1st Mountain Division continued its advance into the Soviet Union, participating in the breakthrough of the Stalin Line and the advance to the Dniepr and Mius rivers. In May 1942, the division fought in the Second Battle of Kharkov and participated in the offensive through southern Russia and into the Caucasus. In a symbolic propaganda move, the division sent a detachment to raise the German flag on Mount Elbrus on 21 August. Although the feat was publicized by Goebbels, Hitler was furious over what he called "these crazy mountain climbers," his rage lasting for hours. After the Caucasus campaign the division was posted to Yugoslavia, where it participated in the anti-Partisan offensive named Case Black, Greece where it took part in anti- partisan operations. In November 1943, the division returned to Yugoslavia, where it took part in operations Operation Kugelblitz and Waldrausch. In March 1944, the division was engaged in the Operation Margarethe. After Operation Rübezahl in Yugoslavia in August 1944, the division took part in defensive fighting against the Red Army in the Belgrade Offensive, suffered severe losses.
During the operation, the division commander, General Stettner, was killed in the battle on 17 October on Avala mountain near Belgrade. In late November, it was transferred to the most endangered spot of the German defense, it was renamed 1. Volks-Gebirgs-Division in March 1945, its final major operations were near Lake Balaton against the 3rd Ukrainian Front. Two months the division surrendered to the Americans in Austria. During the Invasion of Poland, soldiers from the division assisted in the round-up of Jewish civilians from Przemyśl for forced labour, photos of this were printed in newspapers. Photos 7 and 8 During the Case Black operation in Yugoslavia, the division and other units committed crimes against prisoners of war and civilians. In the after-battle report on 10 July, the division reported that it took 498 prisoners, 411 of whom were shot. On 6 July 1943 a unit from the division attacked the village of Borovë in Albania. All of the houses and buildings were burned or otherwise destroyed.
Among the 107 inhabitants killed were five entire families. The youngest victim was aged four months, the oldest 73. On 25 July 1943, soldiers from the division attacked the village of Mousiotitsa in Greece after a cache of weapons was found nearby, killing 153 civilians. On 16 August 1943, the village of Kommeno was attacked on the orders of Oberstleutnant Josef Salminger, the commander of GebirgsJäger Regiment 98. A total of 317 civilians were killed. Divisional soldiers took part in the murder of thousands of Italians from the 33 Acqui Infantry Division in September 1943 on the Greek island of Cefalonia after the Italian surrender. Divisional soldiers killed 32 officers and an estimated 100 soldiers from the Italian 151st Perugia Infantry Division in Albania after the Italian surrender. After the killing of Oberstleutnant Josef Salminger by Greek partisans, the commander of XXII Gebirgs-Armeekorps General der Gebirgstruppe Hubert Lanz ordered, on 1 October 1943, a “ruthless retaliatory action” in a 20 km area around the place where Salminger had been attacked.
In the village of Lyngiades, 92 of its 96 residents were executed. The Division's war crimes are described in H. F. Meyer's book Bloodstained Edelweiss: The 1st Mountain Division in the Second World War. General der Gebirgstruppen Ludwig Kübler General der Gebirgstruppen Hubert Lanz Generalleutnant Walter Stettner Ritter von Grabenhofen Generalmajor August Wittmann Generalleutnant Josef Kübler Generalleutnant August Wittmann 98. Mountain Infantry Regiment 3 Battalions 99. Mountain Infantry Regiment 3 Battalions 100. Mountain Infantry Regiment 3 Battalions 4. Panzerabwehr Battalion 79. Mountain Artillery Regiment 4 Battalions 54. Signals Battalion 54. Pioneer Battalion 54. Supply Troops Service Troops 98. Mountain Infantry Regiment 3 Battalions 99. Mountain Infantry Regiment 3 Battalions 54. Field Medical Battalion 44. Panzerabwehr Battalion 79. Mountain Artillery Regiment 4 Battalions 54. Signals Battalion 54. Pioneer Battalion 54. Supply Troops Service Troops 98. Mountain Infantry Regiment 3 Battalions 99.
Mountain Infantry Regiment 3 Battalions 44. Panzerjäger Battalion 79. Mountain Artillery Regiment 4 Battalions 54. Mountain Jäger Battalion 54. Reconnaissance Battalion 54. Mountain Signals Battalion 79
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process; the official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire and the German Empire; the Nazi regime ended. Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by the President of the Weimar Republic, Paul von Hindenburg, on 30 January 1933; the NSDAP began to eliminate all political opposition and consolidate its power. Hindenburg died on 2 August 1934 and Hitler became dictator of Germany by merging the offices and powers of the Chancellery and Presidency. A national referendum held 19 August 1934 confirmed Hitler as sole Führer of Germany.
All power was centralised in Hitler's person and his word became the highest law. The government was not a coordinated, co-operating body, but a collection of factions struggling for power and Hitler's favour. In the midst of the Great Depression, the Nazis restored economic stability and ended mass unemployment using heavy military spending and a mixed economy. Extensive public works were undertaken, including the construction of Autobahnen; the return to economic stability boosted the regime's popularity. Racism antisemitism, was a central feature of the regime; the Germanic peoples were considered by the Nazis to be the master race, the purest branch of the Aryan race. Discrimination and persecution against Jews and Romani people began in earnest after the seizure of power; the first concentration camps were established in March 1933. Jews and others deemed undesirable were imprisoned, liberals and communists were killed, imprisoned, or exiled. Christian churches and citizens that opposed Hitler's rule were oppressed, many leaders imprisoned.
Education focused on racial biology, population policy, fitness for military service. Career and educational opportunities for women were curtailed. Recreation and tourism were organised via the Strength Through Joy program, the 1936 Summer Olympics showcased Germany on the international stage. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels made effective use of film, mass rallies, Hitler's hypnotic oratory to influence public opinion; the government controlled artistic expression, promoting specific art forms and banning or discouraging others. The Nazi regime dominated neighbours through military threats in the years leading up to war. Nazi Germany made aggressive territorial demands, threatening war if these were not met, it seized Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939. Germany signed a non-aggression pact with the USSR, invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, launching World War II in Europe. By early 1941, Germany controlled much of Europe. Reichskommissariats took control of conquered areas and a German administration was established in the remainder of Poland.
Germany exploited labour of both its occupied territories and its allies. In the Holocaust, millions of Jews and other peoples deemed undesirable by the state were imprisoned, murdered in Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps, or shot. While the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 was successful, the Soviet resurgence and entry of the US into the war meant the Wehrmacht lost the initiative on the Eastern Front in 1943 and by late 1944 had been pushed back to the pre-1939 border. Large-scale aerial bombing of Germany escalated in 1944 and the Axis powers were driven back in Eastern and Southern Europe. After the Allied invasion of France, Germany was conquered by the Soviet Union from the east and the other Allies from the west, capitulated in May 1945. Hitler's refusal to admit defeat led to massive destruction of German infrastructure and additional war-related deaths in the closing months of the war; the victorious Allies initiated a policy of denazification and put many of the surviving Nazi leadership on trial for war crimes at the Nuremberg trials.
The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945, while common English terms are "Nazi Germany" and "Third Reich". The latter, adopted by Nazi propaganda as Drittes Reich, was first used in Das Dritte Reich, a 1923 book by Arthur Moeller van den Bruck; the book counted the Holy Roman Empire as the German Empire as the second. Germany was known as the Weimar Republic during the years 1919 to 1933, it was a republic with a semi-presidential system. The Weimar Republic faced numerous problems, including hyperinflation, political extremism, contentious relationships with the Allied victors of World War I, a series of failed attempts at coalition government by divided political parties. Severe setbacks to the German economy began after World War I ended because of reparations payments required under the 1919 Treaty of Versailles; the government printed money to make the payments and to repay the country's war debt, but the resulting hyperinflation led to inflated prices for consumer goods, economic chaos, food riots.
When the government defaulted on their reparations payments in January 1923, French troops occupied German industrial areas along the Ruhr and widespread civil unrest followed. The National Socialist German Workers' Party (National
Hans Traut was a German general during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves of Nazi Germany. Traut surrendered to the Red Army troops in the course of the Soviet 1944 Vitebsk–Orsha Offensive. In 1947 he was convicted as a war criminal in the Soviet Union and sentenced to 25 years of forced labor. Traut was released in 1955. Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class Clasp to the Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves Knight's Cross on 5 August 1940 as Oberstleutnant and commander of I./Infanterie-Regiment 90 Oak Leaves on 23 January 1942 as Oberst and commander of Infanterie-Regiment 41 and leader of 10th Infantry Division German Cross in Gold on 15 December 1943 as Generalleutnant and commander of the 78th Sturm Division
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was the most important of the peace treaties that brought World War I to an end. The Treaty ended the state of war between the Allied Powers, it was signed on 28 June 1919 in Versailles five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which had directly led to World War I. The other Central Powers on the German side of World War I signed separate treaties. Although the armistice, signed on 11 November 1918, ended the actual fighting, it took six months of Allied negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty; the treaty was registered by the Secretariat of the League of Nations on 21 October 1919. Of the many provisions in the treaty, one of the most important and controversial required "Germany accept the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage" during the war; this article, Article 231 became known as the War Guilt clause. The treaty required Germany to disarm, make ample territorial concessions, pay reparations to certain countries that had formed the Entente powers.
In 1921 the total cost of these reparations was assessed at 132 billion marks. At the time economists, notably John Maynard Keynes, predicted that the treaty was too harsh—a "Carthaginian peace"—and said the reparations figure was excessive and counter-productive, views that, since have been the subject of ongoing debate by historians and economists from several countries. On the other hand, prominent figures on the Allied side such as French Marshal Ferdinand Foch criticized the treaty for treating Germany too leniently; the result of these competing and sometimes conflicting goals among the victors was a compromise that left no one content: Germany was neither pacified nor conciliated, nor was it permanently weakened. The problems that arose from the treaty would lead to the Locarno Treaties, which improved relations between Germany and the other European powers, the re-negotiation of the reparation system resulting in the Dawes Plan, the Young Plan, the indefinite postponement of reparations at the Lausanne Conference of 1932.
Although it is referred to as the "Versailles Conference", only the actual signing of the treaty took place at the historic palace. Most of the negotiations were in Paris, with the "Big Four" meetings taking place at the Quai d'Orsay. On 28 June 1914 the Bosnian-Serbs assassinated the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary in the name of Serbian nationalism; this caused a escalating July Crisis resulting in Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia, followed by the entry of most European powers into First World War. Two alliances faced off, the Triple Entente. Other countries entered as fighting ranged across Europe, as well as the Middle East and Asia. In 1917, two revolutions occurred within the Russian Empire; the new Bolshevik government under Vladimir Lenin in March 1918 signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, favourable to Germany. Sensing victory before American armies could be ready, Germany now shifted forced to the Western Front and tried to overwhelm the Allies, it failed. Instead the Allies won decisively on the battlefield and forced an armistice in November 1918 that resembled a surrender.
On 6 April 1917, the United States entered the war against the Central Powers. The motives were twofold: German submarine warfare against merchant ships trading with France and Britain, which led to the sinking of the RMS Lusitania and the loss of 128 American lives; the American war aim was to detach the war from nationalistic disputes and ambitions after the Bolshevik disclosure of secret treaties between the Allies. The existence of these treaties tended to discredit Allied claims that Germany was the sole power with aggressive ambitions. On 8 January 1918, President Woodrow Wilson issued the Fourteen Points, it outlined a policy of free trade, open agreements, democracy. While the term was not used self-determination was assumed, it called for a negotiated end to the war, international disarmament, the withdrawal of the Central Powers from occupied territories, the creation of a Polish state, the redrawing of Europe's borders along ethnic lines, the formation of a League of Nations to guarantee the political independence and territorial integrity of all states.
It called for a democratic peace uncompromised by territorial annexations. The Fourteen Points were based on the research of the Inquiry, a team of about 150 advisors led by foreign-policy advisor Edward M. House, into the topics to arise in the expected peace conference. After the Central Powers launched Operation Faustschlag on the Eastern Front, the new Soviet Government of Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany on 3 March 1918; this treaty ended the war between Russia and the Central powers and annexed 1,300,000 square miles of territory and 62 million people. This loss equated to a third of the Russian population, a quarter of its territory, around a third of the country's arable land, three-quarters of its coal and iron, a third of its factories, a quarter of its railroads. During the autumn of 1918, the Central Powers began to collapse. Desertion rates within the German army began to increase, civilian strikes drastically reduced
Infantry is the branch of an army that engages in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry and tank forces. Known as foot soldiers, infantry traditionally relies on moving by foot between combats as well, but may use mounts, military vehicles, or other transport. Infantry make up a large portion of all armed forces in most nations, bear the largest brunt in warfare, as measured by casualties, deprivation, or physical and psychological stress; the first military forces in history were infantry. In antiquity, infantry were armed with an early melee weapon such as a spear, axe or sword, or an early ranged weapon like a javelin, sling, or bow, with a few infantrymen having both a melee and a ranged weapon. With the development of gunpowder, infantry began converting to firearms. By the time of Napoleonic warfare, infantry and artillery formed a basic triad of ground forces, though infantry remained the most numerous. With armoured warfare, armoured fighting vehicles have replaced the horses of cavalry, airpower has added a new dimension to ground combat, but infantry remains pivotal to all modern combined arms operations.
Infantry have much greater local situational awareness than other military forces, due to their inherent intimate contact with the battlefield. Infantry can more recognise and respond to local conditions and changing enemy weapons or tactics, they can operate in a wide range of terrain inaccessible to military vehicles, can operate with a lower logistical burden. Infantry are the most delivered forces to ground combat areas, by simple and reliable marching, or by trucks, sea or air transport, they can be augmented with a variety of crew-served weapons, armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles. In English, use of the term infantry began about the 1570s, describing soldiers who march and fight on foot; the word derives from Middle French infanterie, from older Italian infanteria, from Latin īnfāns, from which English gets infant. The individual-soldier term infantryman was not coined until 1837. In modern usage, foot soldiers of any era are now considered infantrymen. From the mid-18th century until 1881 the British Army named its infantry as numbered regiments "of Foot" to distinguish them from cavalry and dragoon regiments.
Infantry equipped with special weapons were named after that weapon, such as grenadiers for their grenades, or fusiliers for their fusils. These names can persist long after the weapon speciality. More in modern times, infantry with special tactics are named for their roles, such as commandos, snipers and militia. Dragoons were created. However, if light cavalry was lacking in an army, any available dragoons might be assigned their duties. Conversely, starting about the mid-19th century, regular cavalry have been forced to spend more of their time dismounted in combat due to the ever-increasing effectiveness of enemy infantry firearms, thus most cavalry transitioned to mounted infantry. As with grenadiers, the dragoon and cavalry designations can be retained long after their horses, such as in the Royal Dragoon Guards, Royal Lancers, King's Royal Hussars. Motorised infantry have trucks and other unarmed vehicles for non-combat movement, but are still infantry since they leave their vehicles for any combat.
Most modern infantry have vehicle transport, to the point where infantry being motorised is assumed, the few exceptions might be identified as modern light infantry, or "leg infantry" colloquially. Mechanised infantry go beyond motorised, having transport vehicles with combat abilities, armoured personnel carriers, providing at least some options for combat without leaving their vehicles. In modern infantry, some APCs have evolved to be infantry fighting vehicles, which are transport vehicles with more substantial combat abilities, approaching those of light tanks; some well-equipped mechanised infantry can be designated as armoured infantry. Given that infantry forces also have some tanks, given that most armoured forces have more mechanised infantry units than tank units in their organisation, the distinction between mechanised infantry and armour forces has blurred; the terms "infantry", "armour", "cavalry" used in the official names for military units like divisions, brigades, or regiments might be better understood as a description of their expected balance of defensive and mobility roles, rather than just use of vehicles.
Some modern mechanised infantry units are termed cavalry or armoured cavalry though they never had horses, to e
Anschluss refers to the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany on 12 March 1938. The word's German spelling, until the German orthography reform of 1996, was Anschluß and it was known as the Anschluss Österreichs. Prior to the Anschluss, there had been strong support from people of all backgrounds – not just Nazis – in both Austria and Germany for a union of the two countries; the desire for a union formed an integral part of the Nazi "Heim ins Reich" movement to bring ethnic Germans outside Nazi Germany into Greater Germany. Earlier, Nazi Germany had provided support for the Austrian National Socialist Party in its bid to seize power from Austria's Fatherland Front government; the idea of an Anschluss began after the unification of Germany excluded Austria and the German Austrians from the Prussian-dominated German Empire in 1871. Following the end of World War I with the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1918, the newly formed Republic of German-Austria attempted to form a union with Germany, but the Treaty of Saint Germain and the Treaty of Versailles forbade both the union and the continued use of the name "German-Austria".
The idea of grouping all Germans into one nation-state had been the subject of debate in the 19th century from the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 until the break-up of the German Confederation in 1866. Austria had wanted a Großdeutsche Lösung, whereby the German states would unite under the leadership of the German Austrians; this solution would have included all the German states, but Prussia would have had to take second place. This controversy, called dualism, dominated Prusso-Austrian diplomacy and the politics of the German states in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1866 the feud came to an end during the German war in which the Prussians defeated the Austrians and thereby excluded Austria and the German Austrians from Germany; the Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck formed the North German Confederation, which included the remaining German states and further expanded the power of Prussia. Bismarck used the Franco-Prussian war as a way to convince other German states, including the Kingdom of Bavaria, to side with Prussia against the Second French Empire.
Due to Prussia's quick victory, the debate was settled and in 1871 the "Kleindeutsch" German Empire based on the leadership of Bismarck and the Kingdom of Prussia formed - this excluded Austria. The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, the Ausgleich, provided for a dual sovereignty, the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary, under Franz Joseph I; the Austrian-Hungarian rule of this diverse empire included various different ethnic groups including Hungarians, Slavic ethnic groups such as Croats, Poles, Serbs, Slovaks and Ukrainians, as well as Italians and Romanians ruled by a German minority. The empire caused tensions between the various ethnic groups. Many Austrian pan-Germans showed loyalty to Bismarck and only to Germany, wore symbols that were temporarily banned in Austrian schools and advocated the dissolution of the empire to allow an annexation of Austria to Germany. Although many Austrians agreed with pan-Germanism ideas, a lot of them still showed allegiance to the Habsburg Monarchy and wished for Austria to remain an independent country.
After the Nazis gained power in Germany in 1933, they used propaganda to try to coerce Austrians into advocating for an Anschluss to the German Reich by using slogans such as Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer. By the end of World War I, Austria had been excluded from internal German affairs for more than fifty years since the Peace of Prague that concluded the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. Elite and popular opinion in Austria after 1918 favored some sort of union with Germany, but it was explicitly forbidden by the peace treaties; the Austro-Hungarian Empire broke up in 1918, on 12 November that year German Austria was declared a republic. The provisional national assembly drafted a provisional constitution that stated that "German Austria is a democratic republic" and "German Austria is a component of the German Republic". Plebiscites in the German border provinces of Tyrol and Salzburg yielded majorities of 98% and 99% in favor of a unification with the German Republic. In the aftermath of a prohibition of an Anschluss, the Germans in both Austria and Germany pointed to a contradiction in the national self-determination principle because it failed to grant it to the ethnic Germans outside of the German Reich.
The Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of Saint-Germain explicitly prohibited the political inclusion of Austria in the German state. This measure was criticized by Hugo Preuss, the drafter of the German Weimar Constitution, who saw the prohibition as a contradiction of the Wilsonian principle of self-determination of peoples, intended to help bring peace to Europe. Following the destruction of World War I, however and Britain feared the power of a larger Germany and had begun to disempower the current one. Austrian particularism among the nobility played a role in the decisions; the constitutions of the Weimar Republic and the First Austrian Republic inclu
Battle of France
The Battle of France known as the Fall of France, was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries during the Second World War. In the six weeks from 10 May 1940, German forces defeated Allied forces by mobile operations and conquered France, Belgium and the Netherlands, bringing land operations on the Western Front to an end until 6 June 1944. Italy invaded France over the Alps. In Fall Gelb, German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes and along the Somme valley, cutting off and surrounding the Allied units that had advanced into Belgium, to meet the expected German invasion; when British and French forces were pushed back to the sea by the mobile and well-organised German operation, the British evacuated the British Expeditionary Force and French divisions from Dunkirk in Operation Dynamo. German forces began Fall Rot on 5 June; the sixty remaining French divisions and two British divisions made a determined resistance but were unable to overcome the German air superiority and armoured mobility.
German tanks outflanked the Maginot Line and pushed deep into France, occupying Paris unopposed on 14 June. After the flight of the French government and the collapse of the French army, German commanders met with French officials on 18 June to negotiate an end to hostilities. On 22 June, the Second Armistice at Compiègne was signed by Germany; the neutral Vichy government led by Marshal Philippe Pétain superseded the Third Republic and Germany occupied the north and west coasts of France and their hinterlands. Italy took control of a small occupation zone in the south-east and the Vichy regime retained the unoccupied territory in the south, known as the zone libre. In November 1942, the Germans occupied the zone under Case Anton, until the Allied liberation in 1944. During the 1930s, the French built fortifications along the border with Germany; the line was intended to economise on manpower and deter a German invasion across the Franco-German border by diverting it into Belgium, which could be met by the best divisions of the French Army.
The war would take place outside French territory avoiding the destruction of the First World War. The main section of the Maginot Line ended at Longwy. General Philippe Pétain declared the Ardennes to be "impenetrable" as long as "special provisions" were taken to destroy an invasion force as it emerged from the Ardennes by a pincer attack; the French commander-in-chief, Maurice Gamelin believed the area to be safe from attack, noting it "never favoured large operations". French war games held in 1938, of a hypothetical German armoured attack through the Ardennes, left the army with the impression that the region was still impenetrable and that this, along with the obstacle of the Meuse River, would allow the French time to bring up troops into the area to counter an attack. In 1939, Britain and France offered military support to Poland in the case of a German invasion. In the dawn of 1 September 1939, the German Invasion of Poland began. France and the United Kingdom declared war on 3 September, after an ultimatum for German forces to withdraw their forces from Poland was not answered.
Following this, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada declared war on Germany. While British and French commitments to Poland were met politically, the Allies were not in a position to render meaningful military assistance to the Poles in a timely manner. If Allied military intervention in Poland had been feasible, it would have come at the risk of drawing the Soviet Union into the war on Germany's side due to the recently-signed German-Soviet non-aggression pact and subsequent Soviet invasion of eastern Poland; as a result, the Allies settled on a long-war strategy and mobilised for defensive land operations against Germany, while a trade blockade was imposed and the pre-war re-armament was accelerated, ready for an eventual invasion of Germany. On 7 September, in accordance with their alliance with Poland, France began the Saar Offensive with an advance from the Maginot Line 5 km into the Saar. France had mobilised 98 divisions and 2,500 tanks against a German force consisting of 43 divisions and no tanks.
The French advanced until they met the thin and undermanned Siegfried Line. On 17 September, the French supreme commander, Maurice Gamelin gave the order to withdraw French troops to their starting positions. Following the Saar Offensive, a period of inaction called the Phoney War set in between the belligerents. Adolf Hitler had hoped that France and Britain would acquiesce in the conquest of Poland and make peace. On 6 October, he made a peace offer to both Western powers. On 9 October, Hitler issued a new "Führer-Directive Number 6". Hitler recognised the necessity of military campaigns to defeat the Western European nations, preliminary to the conquest of territory in Eastern Europe, to avoid a two-front war but these intentions were absent from Directive N°6; the plan was based on the more realistic assumption that German military strength would have to be built up for several years. For the moment only limited objectives could be envisaged and were aimed at improving Germany's ability to survive a long war in the west.
Hitler ordered a conquest of the Low Countries to be executed at the shortest possible notice to forestall the French and prevent Allied air po