Concept

Festung Warschau

Summary
In the German language, Festung Warschau ("Fortress Warsaw") is the term used to refer to a fortified and well-defended Warsaw. In the 20th century, the term was in use on three occasions during World War I and World War II. It was used when the Germans threw back the Russian advance in 1914, where Warsaw came within distance of the fighting in October. The term resurfaced during the September 1939 German invasion of Poland. Later in the second war, the term resurfaced between September 1944 and January 1945, when the retreating Germans tried to establish a defense in the city against the advancing Soviet Union. Siege of Warsaw (1939) During the invasion of Poland in 1939 the German troops reached the outskirts of Warsaw on 9 September. The Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH) assumed that the unfortified city damaged by countless terror bombing raids would be taken by German motorized units without any resistance and issued a press and radio release stating that the capital of Poland was taken. However, the German motorized assault was defeated and the advancing troops were forced to retreat with heavy casualties. From 8 September the city started to be referred to as Fortress of Warsaw in German broadcasts, which was to justify the aerial bombardment of civilian targets. The forces of the defenders, composed initially of only several battalions and various units of second-line troops, were soon strengthened by the soldiers of the Armies Poznań and Pomorze that reached the city in the aftermath of the Battle of Bzura. The Germans laid a siege to the city and started shelling it with heavy artillery located in the outskirts. However, the defending troops managed to defeat all assaults and until the end of September the Germans could not manage to break into the city. After three weeks of constant aerial and artillery bombardment and assaults, the situation of the civilian inhabitants of Warsaw became dire. Food, water and medicine shortages as well as the Luftwaffe strafing inhabitants and refugees grouped within the city caused Warsaw's civilian authorities to request a cease-fire.
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