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Mikhail Tukhachevsky versus Jozef Pilsudski: A Soviet army under Tukhachevsky tries to break the defensive lines of a Polish army under Pilsudski. Can Pilsudski’s risky master plan save the capital? Also known as the Miracle at the Vistula. .
Desperate, fearful men fought on both sides in this forgotten struggle for Eastern Europe. The prospect of what would happen if either side suffered defeat was well-known in all ranks. But as Davies writes in his history of the Polish-Soviet War, the Battle of Warsaw was not the decisive engagement:
The Battle of Warsaw did not end the Polish-Soviet War. It was not a Waterloo or a Sedan which at a stroke could overturn an empire of initiate immediate peace. It still left Poland in grave peril, estranged from her Allies and at war with a giant neighbour. It did not destroy Soviet Russia. Its immediate effect was to sting the Bolshevik leadership into mobilizing their immensely superior resources for a second attempt . . . Russia could afford to lose a battle; Poland could not afford to lose the campaign. In the long run, the exploitation of victory would be more decisive than the victory itself. (1972: 226)
The battle was relatively easy to animate compared with other massive, modern battles such as Mukden. As is typically the case, I spent more time determining the strength and casualties of each side. One issue was the fact that my animation featured only the northern half of a wider strategic campaign and so I was forced to do my own arithmetic. Fuller’s Decisive Battles of the Western World was specific as to the size of formations so I only had to subtract the formations not shown in the animation. I was therefore confronted with a casualty figure that exceeded the total number of Soviet soldiers involved. Szymczak put forward the most reasonable casualty figures in “Polish Soviet War: Battle of Warsaw” but these include the wider Warsaw campaign which I was not animating. Nonetheless, I converted these numbers to a percentage and arrived at the figures you see in the animation. Are they exact? Absolutely not. However, they serve their purpose.
This is another animation that while upgrading over six years later I was really dissatisfied with. I wish that I had access to Davies’ excellent work on the Polish-Soviet War when I first animated the battle to add all the important detail that brings a battle to life. This animation just seems flat to me. I hope you can either still enjoy the animation and learn something, or that you can recognize that most of my other animations are much better.
Dupuy, Trevor N. The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 BC to the Present, Fourth Edition. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.
Fuller, J.F.C. The Decisive Battles of the Western World Vol. 3. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1956.
Goodenough, Simon. Tactical Genius in Battle. Oxford: Phodian Press, 1979.
Szymczak, Robert. “Polish-Soviet War: Battle of Warsaw.” History Net. http://www.historynet.com/polish-soviet-war-battle-of-warsaw.htm (accessed Nov. 15, 2008).
Watt, Richard M. Bitter Glory: Poland and its Fate 1918-1939. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982.
Jozef Pilsudski: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%B3zef_Pi%C5%82sudski
Map of Eastern Europe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish%E2%80%93Soviet_War
Map of the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_map_projections
Mikhail Tukhachevsky: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Mikhail_Tukhachevsky
Polish soldiers: http://www.palha.info/20thinf.html
Soviet soldiers: http://www.firstworldwar.com/photos/troops.htm
If you enjoyed the Battle of Warsaw 1920 battle animation, you may also enjoy these other battle animations:
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