Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

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Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Futurist » 25 Sep 2018 07:33

I've been curious about this for some time--had Jozef Pilsudski lived for at least an additional several years, would he have allied with Hitler?

I know that Pilsudski didn't have a lot of faith in France's commitments to Poland back in the 1920s, but I wonder if his attitude in regards to this would have changed by the 1930s. Also, Pilsudski is probably going to appreciate the fact that Hitler is offering to help Poland expand up to the Dneiper River (Pilsudski was a big fan of Intermarium, after all). At the same time, though, I'm not really sure that Pilsudski would have been comfortable with the idea of Poland being surrounded by Germany on all or almost all directions. After all, Nazi Germany already bordered Poland to the north and west and Nazi puppet Slovakia bordered Poland to the south. If the Nazis will also acquire the territory east of the Dneiper after a successful German-Polish war against the Soviet Union, then Poland is also going to border German forces in the east. I really don't think that Pilsudski would have been very comfortable with that. At the same time, though, I would also think that he would have serious doubts about Britain's and France's ability to help Poland in the event of a Nazi German invasion.

Anyway, what do you think that Pilsudski would have done had he lived longer? Would he have allied with Hitler on Hitler's terms or would he have tried to resist?

Also, for the record, I am posting this thread here because I think that this thread will get more attention here.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by pugsville » 25 Sep 2018 09:03

No. There was no viable Polish German alliance under any reasonable 1930s conditions, and certifiably not with Hitler.

Why do people take any of Hitler statements and foreign policy stat5ments at anything like face value? He repeatedly lied, outrageously so, called black white without blushing, repeatedly played nice with people who he quite callously planned murder all the same,

Hitler wanted the complete and under destruction of the Polish state, and complete oppression of teh polish people and the elimination of Polish culture if possible,

Pilsudski was not a fool. Only fools and idiots would trust Hitler, who betrayed almost all who did.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by wm » 25 Sep 2018 09:27

Poland wasn't surrounded by Germany, the border with the USSR was almost equally long.

Pilsudski wouldn't ally with Hitler because the Poles wouldn't support it and he had enough problems with his political enemies already - without such ideas.

Additionally, he firmly believed in real politics and balance of power, for him (and Beck) all the alliances/pacts/agreements weren't worth the paper they were written on as long as a balance of power didn't exist (and he was right - see Western Betrayal).

Germany wasn't a problem, the imbalance of power between Poland and Germany was.
Intermarium was an attempt to rectify the problem by creating a relatively powerful coalition of Eastern European states controlled by Poland.

So the second and the most important reason was - an alliance with Hitler would only deepen the imbalance of power between Poland and Germany.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Futurist » 26 Sep 2018 03:07

pugsville wrote:
25 Sep 2018 09:03
No. There was no viable Polish German alliance under any reasonable 1930s conditions, and certifiably not with Hitler.

Why do people take any of Hitler statements and foreign policy stat5ments at anything like face value? He repeatedly lied, outrageously so, called black white without blushing, repeatedly played nice with people who he quite callously planned murder all the same,

Hitler wanted the complete and under destruction of the Polish state, and complete oppression of teh polish people and the elimination of Polish culture if possible,

Pilsudski was not a fool. Only fools and idiots would trust Hitler, who betrayed almost all who did.
The argument is that Hitler was initially not anti-Polish due to him being an Austrian rather than a Prussian--with him only becoming anti-Polish after Poland rejected his overtures for an alliance.

I don't know if this argument is actually accurate, but I'm just throwing it out there.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Futurist » 26 Sep 2018 03:08

wm wrote:
25 Sep 2018 09:27
Poland wasn't surrounded by Germany, the border with the USSR was almost equally long.
I was talking about the situation after a successful German-Polish war against the Soviet Union. Michael Mills said that the Nazis proposed to give Poland everything west of the Dneiper in Ukraine while they themselves would have gotten the territories east of the Dneiper.

Also, the rest of your points here certainly make sense, wm! :)

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by pugsville » 26 Sep 2018 05:50

Futurist wrote:
26 Sep 2018 03:07

The argument is that Hitler was initially not anti-Polish due to him being an Austrian rather than a Prussian--with him only becoming anti-Polish after Poland rejected his overtures for an alliance.

I don't know if this argument is actually accurate, but I'm just throwing it out there.
I argument I reject utterly as complete and utter nonsense. His actions and polices make clear that he intended the complete destruction of Poland as a state, destruction of much of polish culture. Hitler said a lot of stuff he clearly did not mean. Agreements, Alliances, Statements of friendship meant nothing. His actions speak for loudly.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by wm » 26 Sep 2018 11:09

Hitler was neutral toward Poland (of course according to his race theory most of the Poles were "low quality" racial stock but that had nothing to do with political neutrality), but he flipped his lid after the Anglo-Polish military alliance was signed.

That Hitler was neutral, and Ribbentrop was inflaming the conflict was a unanimous opinion of all Polish diplomats.
It's hardly believable that Lipski with his lifelong diplomatic career, born in Germany, the ambassador to Nazi Germany since its beginning, called the best-informed diplomat in Nazi Berlin could have been mistaken in this.

Futurist wrote:
26 Sep 2018 03:08
I was talking about the situation after a successful German-Polish war against the Soviet Union. Michael Mills said that the Nazis proposed to give Poland everything west of the Dneiper in Ukraine while they themselves would have gotten the territories east of the Dneiper.
The Nazi proposal is a later propaganda invention, no Polish document supports that. At some point of time desperate Ribbentrop (clearly driven by his inexperience, he was an amateurish and highly inexperienced politician - according to Polish diplomats) said something about Ukraine (it's unclear which one the Czechoslovak or the Soviet) and that's all.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Futurist » 27 Sep 2018 07:18

wm wrote:
26 Sep 2018 11:09
Hitler was neutral toward Poland (of course according to his race theory most of the Poles were "low quality" racial stock but that had nothing to do with political neutrality), but he flipped his lid after the Anglo-Polish military alliance was signed.

That Hitler was neutral, and Ribbentrop was inflaming the conflict was a unanimous opinion of all Polish diplomats.
It's hardly believable that Lipski with his lifelong diplomatic career, born in Germany, the ambassador to Nazi Germany since its beginning, called the best-informed diplomat in Nazi Berlin could have been mistaken in this.
Was Hitler always hostile towards the Czechs?
Futurist wrote:
26 Sep 2018 03:08
I was talking about the situation after a successful German-Polish war against the Soviet Union. Michael Mills said that the Nazis proposed to give Poland everything west of the Dneiper in Ukraine while they themselves would have gotten the territories east of the Dneiper.
The Nazi proposal is a later propaganda invention, no Polish document supports that. At some point of time desperate Ribbentrop (clearly driven by his inexperience, he was an amateurish and highly inexperienced politician - according to Polish diplomats) said something about Ukraine (it's unclear which one the Czechoslovak or the Soviet) and that's all.
Wasn't Goering the one who allegedly made the offer in regards to Ukraine, though?

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by wm » 27 Sep 2018 09:48

He offered a full military support in case of a Soviet aggression on Poland a few times.
But it was in 1938, during the Anschluss and Sudetenland crisis when the Germans tried very hard to appease and neutralize the Poles - as they simply had no idea what Poland would do.
And Goering was the most profuse appeaser of them all, and the most informal.
As far as I know, the idea was to neutralize by promising the world, it wasn't a real offer of a cooperation.

Was Hitler always hostile towards the Czechs?
As far as I know, Hitler wasn't hostile to any nation (except the Jews, and maybe the French initially), the "fun" began when a country/nation "wronged him".

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by henryk » 27 Sep 2018 19:15

http://www.pogonowski.com/display.php?textid=1096
Defensive doctrine of Poland used in 1939: “to be or not to be.”

Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski

The 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War was commemorated in Gdańsk, where German battleship Schlezwig-Holstein on a “goodwill visit” on September 1, 1939 at 4.45 a.m. fired the first shots of the war with its 16 inch guns aiming at Polish military base on the peninsula of Westerplatte in the free city of Gdansk. On September 1, 2009 European heads of governments gathered on Westerplatte, to commemorate and honor the anniversary of WWII.

The defensive doctrine of Poland, was applied in earnest starting on January 26, 1939 when German minister von Ribbentrop was told in Warsaw that Poland will not join the pact against Russia. Poles followed the advice of Marshal Józef Piłsudski, who wrote in his last will and testament, that in order to preserve not only the independence of Poland, but in fact Poland’s very existence, the government of Poland had “to veer between Germany and Russia as long as possible and then bring the rest of the world into the conflict, rather than subordinating Poland to either one of its two neighbors.” The choice of the verb “to veer” indicated that Piłsudski was fully aware of the reality, that Poland formed a barrier between two main protagonists and most powerful contenders on the European continent: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union.

Stalin fearful of a two front war by Germany and Japan against the USSR decided to stop the Japanese Kwantung Army by Soviet attack in August 1939, a few days before the Ribbentrop-Mołotow Pact was to be signed in Moscow. According to The Oxford Companion to World War II (Oxford University Press, 1995) Soviet general Grigory Zhukov was the first in history to use the blitz-krieg tactics. These tactics were developed jointly by Germans and Russians on Soviet polygons after the Treaty of Rapallo of April 16, 1922.

From May 28, 1938 on, the largest air battles in history up to that time, were fought in Asia and involved 140 to 200 Soviet and Japanese aircraft (A. Stella, Khalkhin-Gol, "The Forgotten War", Journal of Contemporary History, 1, 8, 1983). Heavy Japanese loses and betrayal by Germany, were to bring an end to Japanese-Soviet war. Zhukov organized a surprise offensive using 35 infantry battalions, 20 cavalry squadrons, 500 aircraft and 500 of the new and powerful tanks. This force locally outnumbered the forces of the advancing Kwantung Army.

On August 20, 1939 Zhukov launched a surprise attack and in ten days inflicted massive casualties on the Japanese. "Zhukov's essential achievement lay in combining tanks, artillery, aircraft and men in an integrated offensive for the first time in modern war. By 31 August, the Russians have completed what they described as the most impeccable encirclement of the enemy army since Hannibal beat the Romans at Cannae. The 23rd Division of the Kwantung Army was virtually wiped out, and at least 18,000 Japanese were killed." (P. Snow "Nomonhan -the Unknown Victory", History Today, July 1990.)

Poles, threatened by Hitler with complete eradication of the Polish state in the historic Polish lands, knew that Stalin threatened Poland with terror and enslavement. However, Nazi Germany then was the worse of the two evils. Poles made a rational decision and refused to help Germany to defeat Russia. Poland’s refusal to attack Russia saved the Soviet Union from destruction. The Russians so far do not want to admit this fact and they revive the cult of Stalin.

During the 1930ties the League of Nations was trying to prevent the outbreak of hostilities. Then, on August 11, 1939, Hitler finally said to Jacob Burkhardt, Commissioner of the League of Nations: "Everything I undertake is directed against Russia; if the West is too stupid and blind to grasp this, I shall be compelled to come to an agreement with the Russians, beat the West and then, after their defeat, turn against the Soviet Union with all my forces. I need the Ukraine so that they can not starve me out as happened in the last war." (Roy Dennan "Missed Chances," Indigo, London 1997, p. 65). Hitler talked about Russia being “German Africa” and Russians as “negros” to be used by the superior German race.

Hitler’s plan to create “Greater Germany” populated by “racial Germans from the River Rhine to the Dnepr River in the Ukraine,” was known to marshal Piłsudski, who understood that Hitler planned eventual eviction and mass murder of Poles and Ukrainians in their historical lands. Earlier, on March 3, 1918, in Brest Litovsk, a town occupied by Germans, Lenin’s government signed a humiliating capitulation, which yielded to German dictate and agreed to make Russia a vassal state of Germany. Berlin planned to treat Russia like Britain treated India and make a colonial empire ruled by Germany from the Rhine River to Vladivostok. In 1939 the territory of Poland blocked Germany from the direct access to the Ukraine and to Russia.

Already on August 5, 1935 Hitler started pressing the government of Poland to sign a pact with Germany against Russia. This is described in detail, by Józef Lipski, the ambassador of Poland to Germany, during the years 1933-39. Stalin’s government was aware of Hitler’s plans and of the pact between Germany and Japan against Russia signed in 1936. Stalin feared a two front war, Japanese attack from the east and German attack from the west. When Poland refused to join Germany on January 26, 1939 Stalin thought that he had a chance to entangle Germany in a long lasting war on the western front, as had happened during WWI.

For all practical purposes Stalin offered to divide Poland between Germany and Russia by inviting the German-Soviet cooperation on March 10, 1939 in a speech broadcast by radio and addressed to the 18th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party in Moscow. Eventually the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was signed in Moscow and dated August 23, 1939. The news of German-Soviet pact and German betrayal, came to Japanese in the middle of a military disaster, which lead to a cease fire and an the end of hostilities between Japan and the Soviet Union on September 16, 1939 after Japan lodged a formal protest in Berlin against the “Ribbentrop – Molotov Pact.”

Thus, Poland’s decision to defend itself ruined Hitler’s “best case scenario” and his plans to defeat Stalin in a two-front war against Russia. Instead Stalin managed to entangle the Germans in a two-front war. The “great game” consisted of competition between Hitler and Stalin who defeats whom in a two-front war by means of attacks from the east and from the west.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Tomislav » 18 Dec 2018 13:32

In my opinion Pilsudski might by more willing to accept German terms from 1939 observing diplomatic movements on French, British and Soviet side. He might better than Beck understand who is plaing which game and thus decide to accept German conditions just to escape from the firing line and win a bit time.

Argument that Hitler was antislavonic and planned from the beginning to destroy Poland is not good one, because Hitler was generally antislavonic but cooperated with some slavonic countries on different conditions when he needed that cooperation (Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia).

He also admired polish victory over Soviet Russia in 1920 a lot and Pilsudski personally.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by michael mills » 20 Dec 2018 00:46

The Nazi proposal is a later propaganda invention, no Polish document supports that.

This proposal, to divide Ukraine along the Dnieper between Germany and Poland, was reported in the West well before the outbreak of war. According to those reports, the proposal was made by Goering during one of his visits to Poland.

From memory, the reports in the West did not state any official source, so they would seem to be based on a leak of some kind. Also from memory, the reports did not give any Polish reaction, they just stated that the proposal gad been made.

I see no reason for doubting that Goering made such a proposal, probably through a "back-door" channel rather than officially. The idea of Germany and Poland joining forces to defeat the Soviet Union and divide Ukraine between them was entirely in keeping with Hitler's policy toward Poland.

The reports also stated that Goering's proposal was for Germany to take the part of Ukraine east of the Dnieper. That is also entirely consistent with Hitler's aims for expansion to the east, since it was the eastern part of Ukraine, in particular the Donbass, that contained the resources that Germany wanted to acquire. Furthermore, eastern and southern Ukraine were and are the main food-producing areas.

It is noteworthy that after the German conquest of large swathes of Soviet territory, one of the main projects undertaken by Germany was the construction of a highway from the Lemberg District of the General-Government to the Donbass, for the purpose of facilitating the extraction of resources from that region. That shows the priority that Hitler and/or Goering gave to the eastern part of Ukraine.



PS: The fact that this proposal by Goering is not recorded in Polish official documents is not conclusive. If it was not an official proposal transmitted through diplomatic channels, but rather an off-the-cuff statement by Goering, say during a hunting trip, there would be no need to record it, and the Poles to whom the proposal was made might well have wanted to hush it up so as not to alarm France and Britain, which already suspected Beck of being pro-German. The reporting of the proposal in the West may well have been due to a leak, possibly by a Polish official opposed to Pilsudski's policy of rapprochement with Germany.

Bear in mind that a lot of aspects of the pre-war relationship between Germany and Poland were not recorded in official documents but revealed in wartime or post-war memoirs by Polish politicians. Bear in mind also that those memoirs were directed at an Allied audience, so their authors would have been concerned to conceal any hint of the possibility of Poland's aligning with Germany between 1933 and 1939. A prime example is the biography of Pilsudski published by his widow during the war, which depicts him as firmly rejected any overtures from Germany, in contrast with German records which present him as willing to develop the German-Polish relationship to the point where an alliance might become possible.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Gorque » 20 Dec 2018 04:40

See "Poland and Hitler's Offer of Alliance" by Bohdan B Bodurowycz in The Polish Review, volume 3, number 4 (Autumn, 1958), pp 16-29. Available on JSTOR.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by DocHawkeye » 20 Dec 2018 17:45

pugsville wrote:
25 Sep 2018 09:03

Why do people take any of Hitler statements and foreign policy stat5ments at anything like face value? He repeatedly lied, outrageously so, called black white without blushing, repeatedly played nice with people who he quite callously planned murder all the same,
The pure arrogance of and common among western leaders, that they could control or even influence a man as ruthlessly committed to his vision of a new world order as Hitler was.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Steve » 21 Dec 2018 07:57

In January 1935 Goering met Poland’s leadership while on a hunting trip to Poland. The following is taken from – The Great Powers and Poland 1919-1945 by Jan Karski p.294 paragraph 2.

Discussing international affairs, Goering became very outspoken, “almost suggesting an anti-Russian alliance and a joint (Polish – German) attack on Russia.” He indicated that Poland might establish her “sphere of influence” in the Ukraine, while Germany would do the same in “northwestern Russia.” He was so blunt that Lipski recommended through Moltke “some reserve” in Goering’s scheduled conversation with Pilsudski. Indeed, when the Nazi leader hinted at a Polish – German attack on Russia and enumerated its advantages to Poland, Pilsudski cut off the conversation, saying: “Nous ne pouvons accepter d’être mis dans une situation qui nous obligerait a coucher avec notre fusil.”

A very funny reply.

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