The longest battle
of the 1939 campaign
After Poland regained independence in the fall of 1918 Polish military authorities began preparations of a fortified army garrison along the coast. As early as July 22, 1920 General Kazimierz Sosnkowski ordered construction of a strategic rail line which ran from Puck, through Wladyslawowo, to Hel. The line was completed in 1921, together with telegraph connection, by the logistics units of the Polish Army.Furthermore, a road, which ran along the line, was constructed.
In 1931, Polish Army began the construction of the naval base in Hel. At the same time, the tip of the peninsula, from Jurata to Hel, was placed under military administration. Construction of new houses and tourist facilities was forbidden, movement of civilians was strictly limited. These regulations were strengthened by the decree of President Ignacy Moscicki, signed on August 21, 1936, which officially created the Hel Fortified Area.
Soon afterwards, large-scale works began. A network of rail connections, mostly narrow-gauge, was built, together with concrete-strengthened artillery positions. Armaments and various kinds of military equipment were brought. Also, the Army started modernization of the naval base at Hel. The base, designed by Wlodzimierz Szawernowski, had been built in 1931, by a Polish-French Enterprise in a location known as Stary Hel (Old Hel). An underground power plant was placed some 1.5 kilometers north of the port, also in adjacent forests, shelters for ammunition, mines and torpedoes were built. Furthermore, underground petroleum storage reservoir was constructed, with a pipeline to the port. Even though the Hel Fortified Area was not officially created until 1936, Polish Army had been purchasing equipment for it earlier. In July 1935, four Swedish-made Bofors guns (152 mm) were bought and brought to Gdynia aboard transport ship ORP Wilia. Transported to Hel by train, the guns were mounted in October 1935.
The battle of Hel was one of the longest battles of the Polish September Campaign. Units of the Wehrmacht approached the peninsula on September 9, 1939. Hel, manned by some 2000 Polish soldiers, was the longest-defended pocket of the Polish Army during the whole campaign. Cut off from the mainland on September 14, and shelled with 280 millimeter guns, it surrendered on October 2, 1939, after a fierce defense, during which many German planes were shot down
Photographs were taken in October 2012 at the Hel Peninsula. The "film" uses the original Polish songs and marches Navy Polish and the original message from the Polish Radio:
September 1, 1939
"Here Warsaw and all Polish radio stations.
This morning about 5.40 hours German troops crossed the Polish border, breaking the non-aggression pact. Bombed several towns. As soon as you hear a special message:
and September 28, 1939 (The last message of the Polish Radio)
"Hello, hello, can we hear? This is our last message. Today, German troops marched into Warsaw. Fraternal greetings send Polish soldiers fighting on the Hel Peninsula and all the fighting men. Poland is not yet dead! Long live Poland!"