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"Why did Britain and France not declare war on the ..." Topic


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©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2017 11:24 a.m. PST

… Soviet Union when the Red Army marched on Poland in September 1939?

"The reason why Britain didn't declare war on the Soviet Union is an intriguing one. Unknown to the general public there was a ‘secret protocol' to the 1939 Anglo-Polish treaty that specifically limited the British obligation to protect Poland to ‘aggression' from Germany.

When people questioned why Britain did nothing when the Red Army moved on Poland, the British government considered revealing the existence of the secret part of the agreement. However, they decided not to, Sir Alexander Cadogan of the Foreign Office explaining privately that to do so "would only provoke curiosity about the existence of similar secret protocols attached to other treaties…" An answer given in the House of Commons in October 1939 revealed only that the Poles had "understood" that "the agreement should only cover the case of aggression by Germany."

From the outset, Soviet aggression was treated differently to German aggression. On a practical level this was because the British had already shown that they could not defend Poland against one aggressor, let alone two. But it was also because the mandarins in the Foreign Office considered the eastern borders of Poland somewhat ‘fluid' – after all, they had only been fixed the treaty that ended the Polish-Soviet War less than 20 years earlier. Sir William Seeds, British ambassador to Moscow, wrote in a secret telegram on 18 September 1939: "I do not myself see what advantage war with the Soviet Union would be to us…" and that "our war aims are not incompatible with reasonable settlement [in Poland] on ethnographic and cultural lines."…"
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Amicalement
Armand

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2017 12:40 p.m. PST

It still seems strangely hypocritical. After all, Poland's western borders were just as "fluid", they were no older or better ethnically arranged than its eastern borders. (And Poland was quick to grab a slice of Czechoslovakia, too, before the German invasion, which is usually overlooked.) It's right up there with the British and French being slow to respond to the USSR's swallowing of the Baltic states or attacking Finland. Realpolitik of not daring face Germany and USSR both at the same time is the likely rationale. Altho' had Western volunteers reached Finland in spring 1940, before the Finns capitulated, and entered combat against the Soviets, things might have turned out differently.

mkenny06 Sep 2017 2:35 p.m. PST

It is very simple. The intent was to prevent German expansion and German expansion only. The Poles were well aware of the UK obligations and at the end of the day the UK made sure that a State called Poland was on the post-war map.

Costanzo106 Sep 2017 3:02 p.m. PST

It is more simple.The aim was the same of WW1: reduce Germany.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 11:05 a.m. PST

"…at the end of the day the UK made sure that a State called Poland was on the post-war map."

Under total occupation and tyranny by the Soviets ??…

Between Nazis and communists I can not find a real difference in favor of any of them …

Ask the Polish what they think about that…


Amicalement
Armand

Andy ONeill07 Sep 2017 11:28 a.m. PST

The estimates of how many of his own people Stalin was responsible for dying do seem to vary remarkably.
The article I linked recently is the low end.
I think there's little to choose between Hitler and Stalin.
Lucky for us we don't need to.

I think it wasn't quite as clear cut as you might think.
When the Sovs declared war on the plucky Finns, we nearly joined in to defend Finland.
In 1940 when the Sovs were supplying the Nazis, we planned bombing raids and lost planes doing recce.
All in all, Britain really didn't need the Sovs as an enemy as well as the Nazis so it's just as well history didn't head down either track.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 5:55 p.m. PST

Ask the Polish what they think about that…

But then, this is exactly the difference. You CAN ask the Polish what they think.

If the Nazis had somehow remained in power and retained possession of the lands east of Germany and west of the Ukraine, there would be no Poles to ask.

The Nazi plan was to exterminate the Polish people, and to erase all vestiges of Polish culture. Man, woman and child, as well as language, literature, music, artifacts, monuments, libraries, universities -- all vestiges of the existence of a Polish nation and a Polish people was to be purged.

We would be speaking of Poland and the Polish people today as a memory, not as a nation. Determining what the "Poles thought" would be a task for a historian or an archeologist. It would be no different than asking what the Aztecs thought. I have actually discussed this with Polish friends and acquaintances … just try finding an Aztec to ask.

I offer no defense of Stalin. Heartless, remorseless and violent in the extreme, but his goal and the goal of the Soviet state was to rule, not to exterminate. He sought to control the Poles, not to erase them.

There is a difference.


-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Mobius07 Sep 2017 6:20 p.m. PST

"…at the end of the day the UK made sure that a State called Poland was on the post-war map."

You said it. What did the Poles get out of it but 70 years of tyranny. In the end England declared war so the Soviet Union could enslave Poland.


The Nazi plan was to exterminate the Polish people, and to erase all vestiges of Polish culture. Man, woman and child, as well as language, literature, music, artifacts, monuments, libraries, universities -- all vestiges of the existence of a Polish nation and a Polish people was to be purged.

Where do you find this plan? The Germans didn't even liquidate the officers they captured, ala Katyn forrest massacre. You think they'd get a head start on all that erasing right away.

Skarper07 Sep 2017 8:03 p.m. PST

I typed out a post covering much the same ground as Mark 1.

Then didn't send it. So this is basically a Mark 1 +1.

The reason the Poles were not killed en masse while the Nazis had the chance is mainly because other groups took priority. It is a logistical nightmare to exterminate and dispose safely of millions of people. The excellent film Conspiracy and the German original Die Wannseekonferenz give us an insight into this, as do many others.

Often films dealing with this subject often focus very closely on individuals and we lose the scale of the thing. If we read a number it is pretty meaningless in abstract.

Also – no way England declaring war on Germany led to the enslavement of Poland. Declaring war on Soviet Russia would have achieved even less than declaring war on Germany. Continuing the war versus the Soviets in 1945 would not have achieved anything but more death and destruction especially for the Poles themselves. And it was a political impossibility. Had Churchill persuaded Roosevelt to take a tougher line with Stalin the next governments would not have followed it up with military action.

It's a tragedy. But there was nothing Britain could have done to save Poland. I think the Poles know this. Those I have met never mention this era anyway.

mkenny07 Sep 2017 8:20 p.m. PST

What did the Poles get out of it but 70 years of tyranny. In the end England declared war so the Soviet Union could enslave Poland.

Yep them there Brits up to their old tricks 'agin.

Ill-informed rubbish. Poland was given a guarantee by the UK. That the entity known as Poland would be preserved in Europe. After 6 years the UK was able to deliver on its promise.
As for 'asking the Poles' well I did not canvas every single Pole but whilst visiting the Sikorski Museum in London some years back I was allotted a charming old lady who was one of their volunteer guides. We spoke at length about her wartime experience and she told me that she hated both Russians and Poles with a passion (as do nearly every one of the many Poles I have met since their arrival in the UK) but there was a difference. She spent time in a Russian camp. She was treated harshly but never felt she would be murdered. What is more she did receive some 'pay' whilst incarcerated and she was eventually released. She did not know a single Pole who was released from a German Camp other than when it was overun by the Allies.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 11:02 p.m. PST

Where do you find this plan?

I have issued a command – and I will have everyone who utters even a single word of criticism shot – that the aim of war lies not in reaching particular lines but in the physical annihilation of the enemy. Thus, so far only in the east, I have put my Death's Head formations at the ready with the command to send man, woman and child of Polish descent and language to their deaths, pitilessly and remorsely …. Poland will be depopulated and settled with Germans."
– Hitler, August 22, 1939, in conference with Generals
regarding the upcoming campaign against Poland

How do you not find this plan?

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP08 Sep 2017 1:23 a.m. PST

Perhaps that was hasty. So let's drill down a bit.

You can observe the development of Hitler's approach in the many speeches Hitler made, and his writings, starting from Mein Kampf and continuing down through the Generalplan Ost.

1 May 1927, Hitler quoted in the Völkischer Beobachter.See Gordon W. Prange, ed., Hitler's Words (Washington, DC: American Council on Public Affairs, 1944), pp. 19-21.

"As a people without power, the German people will, according to every indication, completely lose its position within the not-too-distant future. The German people will disappear from the earth; in fact, it will perish. This fateful question is the point of departure of our National Socialist doctrine, our Weltanschauung, and out teaching."


This is the clearest articulation of the perspective that populations perish from the earth without land. Land was everything to him. Get "those" people off the land, so Germans could be on the land. Those without land just disappear from the earth.

16 July 1941, Hitler Comments, Conference in Führer Headquarters, in Czesław Madajczyk, ed., Generalny Plan Wschodni: Zbiór dokumentów (Warszawa: Glówna Komisja Badania Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Polsce, 1990), pp. 61-64.

"The Crimea must be cleared of all foreign peoples, as must the parts of Galicia which formerly belonged to the Austrian Empire. …We must make a Garden of Eden out of the newly won eastern territories…"


Already it is not Poland. It is Galacia which formerly belonged to the Austrian Empire.

Note the reference to Eden. It was an empty land. Or at least, it was to be emptied until it was an empty land.

17 October 1941, Hitler comments at the Führer Headquarters, in Madajczyk, Generalny, pp. 69-70.

"The [eastern] region … must be Europeanized! … The two or three million people we need [for this program] can be found quicker than we think. We will take them from Germany, the Scandinavian lands, Western Europe, and America. … in twenty years twenty million people will inhabit this territory. In three hundred years we will have a blossoming parkland of extraordinary beauty!

As for the people indigenous to the area, we will be sure to select those [of importance]. We will remove the destructive Jews entirely. … We will not enter Russian cities, they must die out completely.

There is only one task: Germanization through the introduction of Germans [to the area] and to treat the original inhabitants like Indians. … I intend to stay this course with ice-cold determination. I feel myself to be the executor of the will of History. … We eat Canadian wheat and never think of the Indians."

He viewed the people of Eastern Europe as the "indigenous" people, to be cleared away in the process of civilizing the region. Note, in 20 years he expected only 20 million inhabitants to live in a region that, in 1938 had about 140 million inhabitants. And those 20 million would be mostly built up from the 2-3 million "pioneers" he will recruit to settle those while, empty lands that just happen to be full of Poles, Ukrainians and Russians.

Here is some additional reading.

link

This link provides probably the best information on the GPO (Generaplan Ost). The GPO was an attempt by the Nazi hierarchy (led by Himmler) to flesh out plans to impliment the will expressed in Hitler's Mein Kampf, and the many speeches he had made since then.

If you want the scholarly approach, listing the many authors involved, and the memorandums that went to and from Himmler during the construction of the various versions, the seminal work was done (and fully footnoted) by Czeslaw Madajczyk and published in Polish Western Affairs 1962, Vol. III No 2.

Really, it's not very hard these days to "find this plan". It's there. In Hitler's own words, in Himmler's words, and in the words of the people who worked for him. You don't really need to look to far or too hard.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Skarper08 Sep 2017 1:37 a.m. PST

I always feel we are on treacherous ground as soon as someone starts saying X is worse or nearly as bad as the Nazis/Hitler.

So what? Does it make Hitler less bad objectively?

Mobius08 Sep 2017 6:58 a.m. PST

Thus speaking to his myrmidons:
Thus, so far only in the east, I have put my Death's Head formations at the ready with the command to send man, woman and child of Polish descent and language to their deaths, pitilessly and remorsely …. Poland will be depopulated and settled with Germans."
– Hitler, August 22, 1939, in conference with Generals
regarding the upcoming campaign against Poland

This never happened through 5 years of occupation. Notice the dates were on the eve of war. So was the plan just some pie in the sky boiler plate get ready for war rhetoric? Or, was the reason it never happened economic? Conquerors as far back as Genghis Khan found that keeping a vanquished population around was of economic value. And modern wars are won by production.

mkenny08 Sep 2017 7:53 a.m. PST

This never happened through…………..

He didn't manage to exterminate every Jew in German held territory either.

Murvihill08 Sep 2017 11:34 a.m. PST

So you believe Hitler didn't intend to depopulate Poland because he only killed 17% of the population (6 million people) during a two-front war when he was killing people in other countries too?
Maybe he didn't finish because he was busy…

Costanzo108 Sep 2017 3:21 p.m. PST

The answer to initial question????????????

Earl of the North08 Sep 2017 3:45 p.m. PST

Is answered in the quote apparently.

Mobius08 Sep 2017 5:08 p.m. PST

Is answered in the quote apparently.

Yes. The British didn't expect Uncle Joe.

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