31 August 1939: Poles preempt

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
User avatar
Baltasar
Financial supporter
Posts: 4613
Joined: 21 Feb 2003 15:56
Location: Germany

Post by Baltasar » 25 May 2005 07:43

France was by no means as committed to a peaceful course of action as was Britain. If Poland attacked Germany in the summer of '39 it would be very difficult for Britian and especially France to stay out of it. The Poles could declare that they were going to war because Germany had invade Czechia some months before and had also withdrawn from a nonaggression pact with Poland. The public in France and Britain would unquestionably have felt the Poles to be in the right and be quite ashamed of their own governments if they stayed out.
On the contrary, I don't believe that the public in either France or Britain would have felt that way. Poland would have invaded Germany and as such, Poland was the aggressor. The Poles couldn't even argue that they would do it because of Czechia, because they would have had to invade right then and not that much later.
Withdrawing from a non-aggression pact isn't a cassu belli in any case. Moreover, France a Britain were very reculant in helping Poland in OTL, why would they do any more if the country they are meant to defend starts attacking, even if they should side with Poland?
Additionally, with the events of WWI fresh in their minds, I doubt that the Frensh would have DoWed Germany on their own.
One can say that the treaty would not have "obligated" Britain or France to go to war if Poland attacked - but they had recently guaranteed the Czech's new borders and certainly failed to act on their obligations. The only possible reason for Britain and France to go to war in 1939 was that failure to do so would have meant the fall of their govenments in the next election (possibly even sooner).
This would apply in OTL, but not when they would help a country which is attacking another country. However, I don't know if the treaty simply guaranteed the western border or if it guaranteed the border in case of an attack.
There is another dimension to an invasion of Germany. So far this discussion has ommitted the feelings of the German general staff towards the Nazi Party. There is a good chance that the generals would have used an invasion (by anyone) as their chance to get rid of Hitler. They may even have kept a front at a standstill inside of the German borders until they could negotiate a proper settlement with all the parties involved.
Seeing how willingly the OKW commited itself to the different invasions and how long the cast majority of the officers followed Hitler, I don't think there'd been the slightest chance this could happen.
Would invading Germany have helped even if the above didn't pan out? I believe it might have been very beneficial - especially if we recall that this thread was started under the assumption that Poland had obtained the complete German plans. Given that they would have known troop dispositions and been able to direct their attacks against the most vulnerable German units - they could also have likely destroyed many German aircraft on the ground and even sunk a few ships before Germany could react. Considering that the battle of the Bzura saw a relatively successful Polish advance I see no reason that a number of simultaneous Polish offensives, made with full knowledge of German plans, would be any less successful.
The flaw in your assumption is, that there were enough ethnic germans in the western part of Poland to make it impossible to move troops secretly. An attack by the Poles without the element of surprise would've been a lot less effective. Even with initial successes, they would still face the battle ready Panzer divisions. Without surprise, it's very hard to imagine that the Luftwaffe would loose a lot of aircrafts on the ground or that there would be even a couple of sunken ships. The loss ratio in aircraft would be even more in Germanys favour as the Polish AA units would play a much less important role here, at least initially.

I still don't see how the Poles would've managed to gain more than first day successes against an outnumbering army with a lot more and better equipment. Courage isn't bullet-proof.

User avatar
Kurt_Steiner
Member
Posts: 3979
Joined: 14 Feb 2004 13:52
Location: Barcelona, Catalunya

Post by Kurt_Steiner » 25 May 2005 08:10

Perhaps to claim that they attacked Germany because of the Czechia would be a bit silly, as Poland shared a part of the bussiness when they anexed Cieszyn from Czechia. So, Perhaps the British and French government wouldn't feel quite compelled to act. After all, it was an attack.

And just guess what would happen while the Polish army is commited in Germany if Stalin attacks as he did historically...

User avatar
Evzonas
Member
Posts: 664
Joined: 01 Jul 2004 10:25
Location: Athens, Greece

Post by Evzonas » 25 May 2005 08:18

Kurt_Steiner wrote:Perhaps to claim that they attacked Germany because of the Czechia would be a bit silly, as Poland shared a part of the bussiness when they anexed Cieszyn from Czechia. So, Perhaps the British and French government wouldn't feel quite compelled to act. After all, it was an attack.

And just guess what would happen while the Polish army is commited in Germany if Stalin attacks as he did historically...
or, the German population into Poland causing uprisings and sabotauge etc

User avatar
Kurt_Steiner
Member
Posts: 3979
Joined: 14 Feb 2004 13:52
Location: Barcelona, Catalunya

Post by Kurt_Steiner » 25 May 2005 08:22

Evzonas wrote: or, the German population into Poland causing uprisings and sabotauge etc
It would sound like the "Polish" attack again the radio station that "triggered" the invasion of Poland in 1939. It could only make London and Paris feel that Warsaw was fooling them into attack.

Serus
Member
Posts: 57
Joined: 03 May 2005 08:46
Location: Warsaw-Poland

Post by Serus » 28 May 2005 20:42

I think this what-if scenario is really silly - a good what-if scenario should have at least minimal probability to happen imo. No one in Poland considered an attack on Germany in 39. On the other hand - What if Poland attacked Germany in 1933 or 1935 - that is interesting question (far more probable to happen - but of curse impossible without blessing of western powers)
Saying that polish general staff tought they can actually WIN with Germany alone in 39 is silly - all plans were made as defensive based on assumption that France will attack "with majority of its forces on the 15th day after mobilisation". Howewer they overestimated the ability of Polish Army to defend because they didnt understand the nature of blietzkrieg (otoh who did in 39 ?). Btw Poland had rather good intelligence - they knew the numbers of german divisions deployed in each area, but failed to understand how quick the attack can be. I think that the military role of 5th column is grossly over-estimated.
Perhaps to claim that they attacked Germany because of the Czechia would be a bit silly, as Poland shared a part of the bussiness when they anexed Cieszyn from Czechia.
Took part of the buisness ? No... i'd say: used the opportunity (Czechs made the same thing when Poland fought Bolsheviks...), anyway it was a political mistake. Hmm another interestig What if: what if Poland was allied with Czechoslovakia in 1938 ? Both armies combined were as strong as german (at least in numbers).

john2
Member
Posts: 1000
Joined: 03 Feb 2003 23:25
Location: north carolina

Reply.

Post by john2 » 29 May 2005 05:29

Assuming the Poles took the offensive I think they could have justified it by claiming the Germans caused some incident, probably in Danzig. I also think the west would have supported Poland simply they were trying to contain Germany. The Polish attack probably would have failed but I'm not sure if the west any more motivated then they were historically to activelly aid the Poles.

User avatar
Baltasar
Financial supporter
Posts: 4613
Joined: 21 Feb 2003 15:56
Location: Germany

Post by Baltasar » 29 May 2005 13:47

Serus, actually this scenario is not any more "silly" than assuming that Poland would have invaded Germany as early as 1935 or even 1933.

Serus
Member
Posts: 57
Joined: 03 May 2005 08:46
Location: Warsaw-Poland

Post by Serus » 29 May 2005 23:09

Baltasar wrote:Serus, actually this scenario is not any more "silly" than assuming that Poland would have invaded Germany as early as 1935 or even 1933.
Could you elaborate? I see major differences between the two what-ifs:
1. Balance of power between two countries - just after Hitler came to power German army was still limited by the Traety to 100.000 men. Even in 35/36 it was still realitevely small and weak. In 39 it was twice as large in numbers than Polish one (and much much more stronger in anything else).
2. Poland considered it's options just after the remilitarisation of Rhineland, but of curse not doing it alone but as a French/Polish coopoeration, France wasnt interested at all as we know. On the contrary in 39 no one considered attacking Germany.

Anyway - i still think a good historic what-if should be well tought, not like: What if Aliens landed in Berlin in summer 1945 and gave Hitler their technology :) cheers.

User avatar
Baltasar
Financial supporter
Posts: 4613
Joined: 21 Feb 2003 15:56
Location: Germany

Post by Baltasar » 30 May 2005 11:40

Serus wrote:
Baltasar wrote:Serus, actually this scenario is not any more "silly" than assuming that Poland would have invaded Germany as early as 1935 or even 1933.
Could you elaborate? I see major differences between the two what-ifs:
1. Balance of power between two countries - just after Hitler came to power German army was still limited by the Traety to 100.000 men. Even in 35/36 it was still realitevely small and weak. In 39 it was twice as large in numbers than Polish one (and much much more stronger in anything else).
2. Poland considered it's options just after the remilitarisation of Rhineland, but of curse not doing it alone but as a French/Polish coopoeration, France wasnt interested at all as we know. On the contrary in 39 no one considered attacking Germany.
What political reason/justification would Poland have in 33/35/36 attacking Germany? Would the Polish public be ready to fight yet another war? And for what? What would the Frensh and British think about a aggressive Poland?
Anyway - i still think a good historic what-if should be well tought, not like: What if Aliens landed in Berlin in summer 1945 and gave Hitler their technology :) cheers.
Exactly my point, just in this case it's like Aliens land in Warsaw sometime in the 30's and tell the government what happens in OTL.

Actually, I don't think the original scenario is not plausible. IIRC there actually were thoughts about preemting Germany in '39 in the Polish staff. However, I admit I don't really know if this is a rumor or not since I lack any Polish sources.

Serus
Member
Posts: 57
Joined: 03 May 2005 08:46
Location: Warsaw-Poland

Post by Serus » 30 May 2005 21:23

Baltasar wrote:
Serus wrote:
Baltasar wrote:Serus, actually this scenario is not any more "silly" than assuming that Poland would have invaded Germany as early as 1935 or even 1933.
Could you elaborate? I see major differences between the two what-ifs:
1. Balance of power between two countries - just after Hitler came to power German army was still limited by the Traety to 100.000 men. Even in 35/36 it was still realitevely small and weak. In 39 it was twice as large in numbers than Polish one (and much much more stronger in anything else).

2. Poland considered it's options just after the remilitarisation of Rhineland, but of curse not doing it alone but as a French/Polish coopoeration, France wasnt interested at all as we know. On the contrary in 39 no one considered attacking Germany.
What political reason/justification would Poland have in 33/35/36 attacking Germany? Would the Polish public be ready to fight yet another war? And for what? What would the Frensh and British think about a aggressive Poland?
Anyway - i still think a good historic what-if should be well tought, not like: What if Aliens landed in Berlin in summer 1945 and gave Hitler their technology :) cheers.
Exactly my point, just in this case it's like Aliens land in Warsaw sometime in the 30's and tell the government what happens in OTL.

Actually, I don't think the original scenario is not plausible. IIRC there actually were thoughts about preemting Germany in '39 in the Polish staff. However, I admit I don't really know if this is a rumor or not since I lack any Polish sources.
It is a rumor imo, never heard of it - and i read some monographies about Polish military in 18-39 and about the campaign of spetember 39, anyway its seems very unprobable because general staff was aware of German superiority...

Justification for attack in 33 - violation of the Treaty by starting the rearmament program. But i tend to agree, it wasnt possible, its as unprobable as 39 (only difference is from strictly military point of view - Reichswehr was only 100.000 back then after all). In conclusion - i drop this, you are right.

Attack after the remilitarisation of Rhineland is different tough - but as i said before - only IF France asked Poland to help in first place, France have choosen to accept the fait accomplie IRL however...

What about my second what-if scenario: alliance Poland/Czechoslovakia in 1938 - is it worth to make a new thread about it? A war between P/CZ vs Germany is unlikely - too great risk for Hitler to start it, but maybe other people have different views on this subject.

Von Schadewald
Member
Posts: 2026
Joined: 16 Nov 2004 23:17
Location: Israel

Post by Von Schadewald » 30 May 2005 21:40

Is the Poles preempting in 1939 any more silly than the Israelis preempting in 1967, outnumbered 20 to 1?

Maybe it is: the Land of Israel was made for miracles eg Gideon and his 300 men putting the Midianite hordes to flight (Judges 7 was Wingate's favourite chapter)!

User avatar
Baltasar
Financial supporter
Posts: 4613
Joined: 21 Feb 2003 15:56
Location: Germany

Post by Baltasar » 31 May 2005 12:49

Von Schadewald wrote:Is the Poles preempting in 1939 any more silly than the Israelis preempting in 1967, outnumbered 20 to 1?

Maybe it is: the Land of Israel was made for miracles eg Gideon and his 300 men putting the Midianite hordes to flight (Judges 7 was Wingate's favourite chapter)!
You can't compare these incidents as the backgroud is completely different. I won't go into details here since I think it'd violate the forum rules.

User avatar
Baltasar
Financial supporter
Posts: 4613
Joined: 21 Feb 2003 15:56
Location: Germany

Post by Baltasar » 31 May 2005 12:55

Serus wrote: Attack after the remilitarisation of Rhineland is different tough - but as i said before - only IF France asked Poland to help in first place, France have choosen to accept the fait accomplie IRL however...
I'm not sure whether or not Poland signed the treaty of Versailles. If not, I don't see how they could justify declaring war on Germany when they didn't sign it.
What about my second what-if scenario: alliance Poland/Czechoslovakia in 1938 - is it worth to make a new thread about it? A war between P/CZ vs Germany is unlikely - too great risk for Hitler to start it, but maybe other people have different views on this subject.
Is a coalition between Poland and Czechoslovakia possible in '38 from a pilitical point of view? What would the public opinion be? Poland would propably have to fight over CZ territory after all, would the public opinion support such a course of action? What about the parts of the CZ people who wanted to form a seperate nation? Would they try to persue their interests or would they want to defend their unwanted country?

Serus
Member
Posts: 57
Joined: 03 May 2005 08:46
Location: Warsaw-Poland

Post by Serus » 01 Jun 2005 21:53

Baltasar wrote:
Serus wrote: Attack after the remilitarisation of Rhineland is different tough - but as i said before - only IF France asked Poland to help in first place, France have choosen to accept the fait accomplie IRL however...
I'm not sure whether or not Poland signed the treaty of Versailles. If not, I don't see how they could justify declaring war on Germany when they didn't sign it.
What about my second what-if scenario: alliance Poland/Czechoslovakia in 1938 - is it worth to make a new thread about it? A war between P/CZ vs Germany is unlikely - too great risk for Hitler to start it, but maybe other people have different views on this subject.
Is a coalition between Poland and Czechoslovakia possible in '38 from a pilitical point of view? What would the public opinion be? Poland would propably have to fight over CZ territory after all, would the public opinion support such a course of action? What about the parts of the CZ people who wanted to form a seperate nation? Would they try to persue their interests or would they want to defend their unwanted country?
No offence - but knoweldge of the fact that Poland did sign the Treaty of Versailles is rather basic if one wants to discuss history of 1918-1939 in Europe (polish history included).
To your information - Poland signed the treaty. Some nice photos of the treaty with signatures:
http://www.foundingdocs.gov.au/places/c ... 9_1919.jpg
2nd ant 3rd signature - I. Paderewski and Roman Dmowski. :)

About Poland-Czechoslovakia, interesting question, but in my opinion the asnwer is yes, it was possible, all that was needed was political will form both sides to make such agreement, Polish-Czechoslovakian relations during the war (including projects of union between the two states) are a proof imo. Hmm i think ill make a thread about it after all...

User avatar
Baltasar
Financial supporter
Posts: 4613
Joined: 21 Feb 2003 15:56
Location: Germany

Post by Baltasar » 02 Jun 2005 19:33

Serus wrote: No offence - but knoweldge of the fact that Poland did sign the Treaty of Versailles is rather basic if one wants to discuss history of 1918-1939 in Europe (polish history included).
To your information - Poland signed the treaty. Some nice photos of the treaty with signatures:
http://www.foundingdocs.gov.au/places/c ... 9_1919.jpg
2nd ant 3rd signature - I. Paderewski and Roman Dmowski. :)
Possibly in Poland, but the dictate of Versailles is a rather unpleasent part in German history and possibly in the Frensh and British history also. We learn more about the contents rather than who signed it.

Return to “What if”