Germany and Poland are presently enjoying peace, but it wasn’t always that way. Separated by a 290 mile border (467 km) – once said to be the most policed border on the planet – the two nations have at various times been the worst of enemies. The Treaty of Versailles handed former German territories to Poland after the First World War, which rankled Germany to the extreme. This was one of the reasons for the invasion of Poland in 1939. 16 days later, the Soviets invaded Poland from the other side of the country. You could say this was the start of some difficult times for the Polish. Poland now enjoys better economic relations with Germany than it does with Russia, but how would they fair if pitted against each other militarily? That’s what we’ll find out, in this episode of the Infographics Show, Germany vs Poland.
Let’s first have a look at some country stats and non-military information. Poland’s live population as of November 2nd 2017 is about 38 million (38,148,286). That population lives in a land area of approx 121 thousand sq miles (120,726 sq. miles) (312,679 km2). The country’s longest border is with the Czech Republic, but Poland also borders Germany, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Lithuania and the Baltic Sea. Poland has enjoyed healthy economic growth for a number of years, and its nearly 510 billion dollar GDP ($509.960 billion) is the biggest of former Eastern Bloc members in the EU, as well as the 6th largest economy in the EU.
Germany’s live population as of the same date is about 82 million (82,175,159). They live on a land mass of about 138 thousand sq miles (137,903 sq. miles) (357,168 km2). Germany shares its border with Poland – as we know – but also with the Czech Republic, France, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Both countries are literally surrounded nations. One thing that stands out between these countries is that Germany is an economic powerhouse with the largest economy in Europe and the fourth largest GDP in the world. The GDP for 2016 was $3.47 trillion. Germany is rich in natural resources, but also a leader in many industries. So, just as we begin, it looks as though Germany has the upper hand, but it’s not the military behemoth it once was.
It’s thought that in 1940, Germany had 3.5 million soldiers and a mind-blowing cache of land artillery. It was to some extent the most feared military power in the world. Following its loss, the country wasn’t allowed to pursue military prowess again for a while, although now it does have a fairly strong presence in terms of defense. It’s still often ranked as a top ten member of the world’s best militaries, but we’ll let you decide that.
Germany has a defense budget of 41.1 billion dollars, which is 1.2 percent of its GDP. Its active frontline personnel number 180,000 with another 30,000 being active reserve personnel. Poland’s defense budget for 2017 is 9.6 billion dollars, which is 2.1 percent of its GDP. One thing we must add here in light of our hypothetical aggression, is that in 2017 Poland told Germany it must pay $1 trillion in World War II reparations. Germany hasn’t paid it yet, but if it did, before they went head-to-head, well, a cool trillion would go a long way to bolstering the Polish armed forces. Right now Poland is ranked as a top 20 military power. The country has 110,000 active military personnel and another 75,000 acting as reserves.
You can imagine, given the geography of these two nations, that a lot of the action would take place on land. They do, after all, border each other. Germany has 543 tanks, 5,869 armored fighting vehicles, 154 self-propelled guns, 0 towed artillery and 50 multiple-launch rocket systems. Germany is a renowned tank builder, and its Leopard 2A7 of which it has about 20, is ranked as one of the best tanks ever created. It also has around 232 Leopard II main battle tanks of differing variations – some old and some new.
Poland has more tanks, however, at 1,065. The country also owns 2,608 armored fighting vehicles, 443 self-propelled artillery, 72 towed artillery and 240 multiple launch rocket systems. According to National Interest, Poland takes its military very seriously, and just in case anyone should decide to enter its borders, Poland will “build a new territorial defense force of 53 thousand volunteers by 2019.” In terms of its rather large ground force, a lot of Poland’s machines are leftovers from the troubles in the early and mid-20th century. Poland’s best tank is said to be its homemade PL-01, a super futuristic machine that looks as though it was made for Batman. This machine, though, is much lighter than a regular main battle tank. Nonetheless, it’s a machine that impressed the world when it was first shown. Poland does have a lot of older heavy tanks, including 128 ageing Leopard IIs donated by Germany.
In the air, Germany again seems like the more modern outfit. In total, Germany has 698 aircraft. This combines 92 fighters, 169 fixed wing attack aircraft, 345 transport aircraft, 47 trainer aircraft, 375 helicopters, and 47 attack helicopters. Germany puts a lot of emphasis on its air force and is currently working alongside the USA to develop it. As for machines, its piece de resistance is the Eurofighter Typhoon, of which is has 128. It also owns some U.S.-built McDonnell-Douglas F-4F Phantom IIs.
Poland has in total 465 aircraft, of which 99 are fighter aircraft, 99 attack aircraft, 229 transport aircraft, 98 trainer aircraft, 211 helicopters with 29 attack helicopters. In terms of its fighters and multirole aircraft, you could say the fleet is ageing, but you could also say that they were at least some of the best planes of the past. That includes 31 MIG-29s (actually donated by Germany), 36 F-16s and 32 Russian-made Sukhoi Su-22s. We’d have to go with Germany again here given its large fleet of Eurofighter Typhoons.
As for the navies of these two nations, they certainly wouldn’t get near a top five list, and to be frank, wouldn’t even get on a top ten list. In this match-up, both countries would likely not be settling the dispute in the seas. Germany’s navy force consists of 0 aircraft carriers, 0 destroyers 10 frigates, 5 corvettes, 6 submarines, 13 mine warfare, 11 replenishment ships and 20 miscellaneous auxiliary vessels. When we talk about German naval strength these days, we are indubitably talking about the past.
Poland can’t really boast about its naval strength, either. Its fleet consists of 0 aircraft carriers, 0 destroyers, 2 frigates, 2 corvettes, 5 submarines, 3 patrol craft and 25 mine warfare vessels. Poland doesn’t seem very interested in its navy. Reuters reported in 2017 that Poland was about to push $55 billion into its military in the next 15 years, but guess what, not much of that will go to strengthening the navy.
As for nuclear weapons, Poland doesn’t have any, although during the Cold War, the Soviets did stockpile some of them there. Germany doesn’t have any either, although under the NATO nuclear weapons sharing program, it does train to let them go if need be. If these two nations were to get into a wrangle, it would be one on land and in the air, but then as both are close allies of most developed democratic nations, it would depend a lot on who was seen as the aggressor as to whom would be befriended. It’s extremely unlikely there will be any friction, unless of course a people’s revolution takes place in either country promoting an alternative to capitalism or democracy. In that case they would likely be the enemy of almost everyone.
So, how do you feel about this hypothetical match-up? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video called China vs the United States?! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!