Murphy's Law: October 2, 2002


Even though the Cold War has been over for eleven years, many of the key military commanders on the Russian side have remained silent. "Loyal to their oaths," they say. But the Parallel History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact ( has gotten some of the former Warsaw Pact generals to talk a bit. During the Cold War, the Polish army was, after Russia's, the largest in the Warsaw Pact. The Russians also considered the Poles the most reliable of their East European allies. Although after 1980 (when anti-communist unrest grew in Poland), this wasn't saying much. Apparently the role of the Polish armed forces was to attack west into Denmark and northern Germany. NATO air superiority and a lack of sufficient amphibious shipping made the Poles pessimistic about their chances against Denmark. But they expected their push into Germany to have some success. However, by the 1980s, the Warsaw Pact generals expected any war with NATO to quickly turn nuclear. The Polish planners estimated that at least half a million Polish troops would die in the fighting. Because of the nukes, and Warsaw Pact blitzkrieg tactics, all this was expected to take about two weeks. Note that Warsaw Pact operational plans, at least for Poland, are still considered state secrets in Poland, even though Poland now belongs to NATO.


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