Churchill - Katyn - Appeasement

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Sid Guttridge
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Re: Churchill - Katyn - Appeasement

Post by Sid Guttridge » 09 Oct 2019 07:19

Hi Steve,

Churchill was not entirely wrong as there had been significant changes in the Soviet state since the outbreak of war. The Communist International was gone, army officers had regained some status (and their shoulder boards), the church was enlisted to support the state and Russian nationalism was appealed to in the struggle against Germany. This was more like the old Russian Empire that was familiar to Churchill in his youth.

It has also been said by others that Stalin was a peasant, and had peasant cunning. Churchill probably underestimated the cunning.

As far as relations with Stalin were concerned, it seems to have been Roosevelt who was more trusting, as he saw the USSR as a more modern institution than the British Empire, which both wanted dissolved.

Churchill was not entirely naive. He wanted to invade the Balkans in 1943 to head off the Soviets in Eastern Europe, but the USA would have none of it. Hence the Percentages Agreement as a poor alternative. It did, at least, help save Greece from the Communists - something the USA did little to support at the time.

The Percentages Agreement at least gave the West the theoretical ability to intervene in countries occupied by the Red Army and may have been a minor obstacle to Stalin annexing all former imperial Russian territory, such as Warsaw.

Thin gruel, perhaps, but marginally better than nothing.

Cheers,

Sid

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Steve
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Re: Churchill - Katyn - Appeasement

Post by Steve » 10 Oct 2019 02:53

Hi, there may well be some truth in what you say but I am sticking to my original thesis. Anyway nothing could be done without Roosevelt and Roosevelt intended doing nothing to antagonize Stalin.

I was hoping for some comments on whether the UK did break the 1939 “Agreement of Mutual Assistance” with Poland when it agreed to the Curzon Line at Tehran without consulting its ally. From what part 3 of the secret protocol attached to the agreement says it seems to me that it did. “3. The undertakings mentioned in Article 6 of the Agreement, should they be entered into by one of the Contracting Parties with a third State, would of necessity be so framed that their execution should at no time prejudice either the sovereignty or territorial inviolability of the other Contracting Party”.

Churchill said that the British never guaranteed Poland’s eastern border which is true but what does territorial inviolability mean if a new boundary is agreed to with a third state without consultation. Foreign Minister Beck was a clever character and I would guess that he had the clause inserted as he did not fully trust the British and French.

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Re: Churchill - Katyn - Appeasement

Post by Sid Guttridge » 10 Oct 2019 20:23

Hi Steve,

I thought the secret protocol made it clear that the agreement was entirely directed at Germany, which was the "third party" concerned?

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Sid

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Steve
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Re: Churchill - Katyn - Appeasement

Post by Steve » 11 Oct 2019 01:50

Hi,
1(a) of the secret Protocol attached to the agreement says “By the expression “a European power” employed in the agreement is to be understood as Germany.

The Protocol goes on to that if entering into an agreement with a European power other than Germany the contracting parties will consult together. The UK and Poland are the contracting parties and in my understanding the UK agreed to the Curzon Line without consulting. As the line was a clear violation of pre war Polish territorial sovereignty the UK broke the 1939 treaty.

However, perhaps the UK could wriggle out of the treaty by saying that though it had agreed to the Curzon Line it never signed an agreement on the matter. Though its consultation with the Poles had consisted of informing them after the fact to accept or else they had consulted.

I suspect that I will never get a definitive answer and will have to file it away under WW2 mystery.

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Re: Churchill - Katyn - Appeasement

Post by Sid Guttridge » 11 Oct 2019 11:48

Hi Steve,

While initial talks with the USSR in 1943 over the Curzon Line were opened without consulting the London Poles of the Government-in-Exile, they were informed in 1944 in order to try to secure their agreement. While some were prepared to make concessions or negotiate, most refused.

The actual agreement on Poland's Eastern border with the USSR was probably only entered into with the arrival of the internationally recognized Government of National Unity inside Poland after June 1945. If so, the UK could argue that, technically, it was within the 1939 treaty conditions because it had the acquiescence of the internationally recognized Polish Government in Warsaw to the new border.

In all this, it should not be forgotten that, while Poland mostly lost areas where Poles were a minority to the USSR, it gained depopulated territory off Germany where it was able to resettle displaced Poles as a massive local majority.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Churchill - Katyn - Appeasement

Post by Steve » 11 Oct 2019 22:29

Hello, yes that seems to be the explanation. The British Government withdrew recognition from the London Poles and recognised the Lublin Poles as the government of Poland. As the Lublin Poles wanted the Curzon Line the British government had not broken the 1939 treaty. Now that is realpolitik.

There was a wonderful moment on November 2nd 1944 in Downing St. Churchill had asked representatives of the London Polish government to come to a “critical” conference. He made various threats about what he would do if the Poles did not agree to the demands made on them. Then they were promised that in return for accepting Soviet territorial demands the British would support them in obtaining German territory up to the Oder River including Stettin. They would also “guarantee” the independence and integrity of the new Poland “jointly with the Soviet Government”. How this would work was explained by Alexander Cadogan Permanent Under Secretary for Foreign Affair “in the event of aggression by Russia on Poland, the British guarantee does not come into play”.

Churchill did not support the Oder – Neisse as Poland’s western border only the Oder.

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wm
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Re: Churchill - Katyn - Appeasement

Post by wm » 19 Oct 2019 23:10

The Lublin Poles were just a bunch of NKVD agents - they were Stalin posing in different attire.

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Re: Churchill - Katyn - Appeasement

Post by wm » 19 Oct 2019 23:14

July 18th, 1941
An official note addressed by H.M. Government to the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On the occasion of the signature of the Polish-Soviet Agreement of to-day's date — which reestablishes the relations between the two countries as they existed before 1939"e — I desire to take the opportunity of informing you that, in conformity with the provisions of the Anglo-Polish Agreement of August 25th, 1939, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have entered into no undertaking towards the U.S.S.R. which affect the relations between that country and Poland.
I also desire to assure you that His Majesty's Government does not recognize any territorial changes which take place during the war.
from: Polskie Dokumenty Dyplomatyczne 1941

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wm
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Re: Churchill - Katyn - Appeasement

Post by wm » 19 Oct 2019 23:22

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
04 Oct 2019 15:51
WW2 was a tragedy for the Poles, but neither Churchill nor Roosevelt "handed" it "to Stalin on a plate" - grim geopolitical reality and Soviet military strength made that inevitable.
Yes, Roosevelt didn't hand over Poland to Stalin on a plate - simply because he didn't have Poland, you can't hand over something you don't have.
But, he was ok with the rape of Poland as long the rapist (Stalin) was promising his post-war friendship and his love for Roosevelt's new world order.

Curiously, the US never recognized the Soviet rape of Baltic states although they collaborated with the Nazis and Poland didn't.

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Re: Churchill - Katyn - Appeasement

Post by Steve » 20 Oct 2019 19:57

The assurance given in the note of July 18 1941 was clearly broken at the Tehran conference in November 1943. It is odd that the British would give such an assurance because Maisky the Soviet Ambassador to the UK told Eden on July 17 1941thus a day before the Polish note "in no circumstance would the Soviet Union recognise Polish Soviet boundaries as of July 1939". Apparently the British did not disagree with what Maisky said yet they told the Poles the next day that they did not recognise any territorial changes?

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Re: Churchill - Katyn - Appeasement

Post by Sid Guttridge » 20 Oct 2019 22:14

Hi Steve,

It strikes me that the British justification is based on a technicality.

It did not recognize any new frontier until there was an internationally recognized Polish government that did the same

It may seem like an historical injustice that this government wasn't the London Poles, but it strike me that this was technically legal.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Churchill - Katyn - Appeasement

Post by wm » 20 Oct 2019 23:55

Steve wrote:
20 Oct 2019 19:57
The assurance given in the note of July 18 1941 was clearly broken at the Tehran conference in November 1943. It is odd that the British would give such an assurance
Sikorski demanded it as a precondition to the signing of the Polish-Soviet Agreement so they gave him what he wanted - in bad faith.
Actually he believed it was his greatest political achievement, he said that to his ministers, but he was mistaken - it was forgotten almost immediately.

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Re: Churchill - Katyn - Appeasement

Post by Steve » 21 Oct 2019 01:51

Hi, at the Tehran conference both Churchill and Roosevelt agreed with Stalin that the Curzon Line would be Poland’s eastern border. The only internationally recognised Polish government in December 1943 was the London one. The Polish communist government was not formed until July 1944 with international recognition coming later. Britain and the US had de facto though maybe not de jure recognised Poland’s eastern border without consulting the legal government of Poland.

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Re: Churchill - Katyn - Appeasement

Post by Sid Guttridge » 21 Oct 2019 08:38

Hi Steve,

That conforms with my understanding

As the agreement was a legal document, I would suggest that the de jure situation is the key one

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Sid

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Re: Churchill - Katyn - Appeasement

Post by henryk » 21 Oct 2019 18:45

Steve wrote:
21 Oct 2019 01:51
Hi, at the Tehran conference both Churchill and Roosevelt agreed with Stalin that the Curzon Line would be Poland’s eastern border. The only internationally recognised Polish government in December 1943 was the London one. The Polish communist government was not formed until July 1944 with international recognition coming later. Britain and the US had de facto though maybe not de jure recognised Poland’s eastern border without consulting the legal government of Poland.
https://enacademic.com/dic.nsf/enwiki/295671\
Meanwhile the Polish Government in Exile had maintained its existence, but the United States and the United Kingdom withdrew their recognition on July 6, 1945. The Polish Armed Forces in exile were disbanded in 1945, and most of their members, unable to safely return to Communist Poland, settled in other countries. The London Poles had to vacate the Polish embassy on Portland Place and were left only with the president's private residence at 43 Eaton Place. The Government in Exile became largely symbolic of continued resistance to foreign occupation of Poland, while retaining some important archives from prewar Poland. The Republic of Ireland, Spain and the Vatican City (until 1979) were the last countries to recognize the Government in Exile, though the Vatican — through Secretary of State Domenico Tardini — had withdrawn diplomatic privileges from the envoy of the Polish pre-war government in 1959. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/artic ... 88,00.html Phantoms in Rome] , "TIME Magazine", January 19, 1959]

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