The Battle of Britain went on between July and October of 1940. During this time, how prepared was the German Eastern Front?

Specifically, how much of the German Army was on the West (either occupying France or waiting to invade Britain), versus how much guarding the East? How much of the Luftwaffe was busy with Britain, versus how much was guarding the East? Was the East Front fortified at all with trenches?

Or perhaps, was the east guard given mostly to the Italians?

BTW, at this time the Axis did not include Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, or Bulgaria. So the Eastern Front is relatively small at this point, running through Poland, and along Austria and Italy.

Edit: Another way of going about this is, how much of the Wermacht was occupying West Poland and Czechoslovakia at this time?

  • Something to keep in mind about this scenario, at that time Germany and the Soviets were trading partners. The Germans received badly needed raw materials, and the Soviets received badly needed technical and manufacturing expertise and equipment and even a partially completed heavy cruiser.
    – Schwern
    Nov 21, 2016 at 18:54
  • @Schwern I'm aware. Just want to know if the Axis nevertheless left their "back door" wide open or not. A rough estimate such as x percent of Luftwaffe and y percent of Heer (Army) at the east will do.
    – DrZ214
    Nov 21, 2016 at 19:12
  • The Bear kept poking around with the Ribbentrop Pact ... which is kind of funny actually. The Red Army was "right there" meaning the German Frontiers so the Russians certainly gave the 3rd Reich the impression that a: they were not afraid and b: "we are in our assembly areas how come you aren't in yours." Everything was pretty much quiet though as for the most part the non aggression pact which partioned Poland held. I think your points about Southeastern Europe are very valid. Also Italy in North Africa was not going well. Much diplomatically we still don't know as Sweden & Portugal=diplomacy Nov 21, 2016 at 19:22
  • On 25 Aug 1940 Ribbentrop welcomed Molotov to Berlin. British officials were aware of the meeting and decided to launch a raid on Berlin, at that stage of the war, at about the limit of their range - perhaps to impress the Soviets. 95 RAF bombers were despatched, and as the bombs began to fall Ribbentrop and his guest had to take to an air-raid shelter. Earlier Ribbentrop had been making a big pitch to Molotov that "Britain was finished". "If Britain is finished" replied Molotov, "would you mind telling me what we are doing in this cellar, and whose bombs they are that are falling above us".
    – WS2
    Nov 22, 2016 at 1:13
  • Still...the high level Diplomacy continued. No one was scared of a few bombs dropped by a couple of British Bombers in 1940 least of all the 3rd Reich. As the Americans would quickly learn...or not learn really...German Air defenses were quite formidable...and most after action reviews of Strategic Bombing once Germany fell and was occupied found it to be a failure. One major exception I think.. meaning I believe in fact did make a difference...was Normandy but this is for another discussion. Nov 22, 2016 at 2:26

2 Answers 2


There wasn't much defending Germany and the East at all. From what I can tell, most of Germany's air power was dedicated to the Battle of Britain, and most of the army was recovering from the Battle of France in France.

I can cover the air units in the most detail. Germany threw 80% of its air power at Britain, about 3,350 aircraft out of 4,000 (not all servicable).

At the time, Germany had 5 Luftflotte, high level organizations responsible for a particular region. 2 (Belgium), 3 (France), and 5 (Norway) were dedicated to attacking Britain. Luftflotte 1 (Berlin) and 4 (Vienna) were stripped of nearly all their attack (Fliegerkorps) and fighter (Jagdfliegerführer) units to support the battle.

This is not to say there was nothing defending Germany. These were just the high level units. The Germans were masters of reorganization. The smaller units, the Jagdgeschwader (JG), would still be operating around Germany. For a detailed listing, here's an exhaustive list of Luftwaffe air units and their bases by date. If you go through them all, please feel free to edit this answer with the info.



Around the time you ask the only active German armies on the east were the XI (created around October 1940) and XVIII army. While armies I, II, IV, VI, VII, IX, XII and XVI where in France, plus both Panzer armies. An army was in Norway as well. Obviously the size and quality of each army was quite variable and surely some units of occupation were not under the command of an army.

So we might say that only a 15% of the army was in the east during the Battle of Britain.

Poland didn't have any kind of fortification and no Italian troops were in the east by then. In fact, Italians didn't know about the attack to the Soviet Union.

  • Thanks but do you have any sources for those armies?
    – DrZ214
    Nov 22, 2016 at 20:19
  • 1
    Wikipedia, english and german version. For example: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_Army_(Wehrmacht) At the end of the page you'll see a list of german armies.
    – Santiago
    Nov 23, 2016 at 15:30

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