How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 04 Apr 2019 19:00

The Romanian "playboy" king and his camarilla were seriously inept, amateurish, and disorganized in international matters.

The undisputed fact is his people informed the Poles on September 15th that the passage is out of a question.
And again on September 18th, adding that the Soviets (Litvinov) told them they were not going to try to obtain "the right of passage."

It seems six days later the king was startled by the news Czechoslovakia had been abandoned by France and Britain, panicked, found a piece of paper, wrote and sent his "all is forgiven" declaration.
They say he was deeply shocked by the Munich Agreement so really why not.

It makes no sense whatsoever to falsify such an obscure document, during the cold war it was an absolutely who-cares thing.
But I will have a copy of the document in a few weeks to see for myself.
Last edited by wm on 04 Apr 2019 21:29, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 04 Apr 2019 19:02

Steve wrote:
04 Apr 2019 16:49
If the Soviets had advanced into Czechoslovakia through Rumania it would quite likely have brought a violent response both from Germany and Poland.
Please, it's pure speculation, with no support whatsoever.
Poland wouldn't sacrifice her ties with France for such a triviality (i.e. Teschen). And wouldn't ally with Germany in any case.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by Steve » 05 Apr 2019 22:22

Hi, Churchill was not referring to what had taken place at Munich after all nobody bothered to invite the Poles to the conference. He was referring to how Poland had taken advantage of Czechoslovakia after Munich when it could not defend itself.

During the crisis the Polish ambassador in France Luksziewicz met the French Foreign Minister Bonnet and Bonnet said to him that if Poland did not want ….. to help Czechoslovakia do not hinder Romania. Luksziewicz told Bonnet that he did not agree and that Romania without its consent can make no decision. Later Bonnet met Petrescu-Commen Rumania’s Foreign Minister who told Bonnet that Rumania was hindered in what it could do by Poland, which held the keys to support in the east for Czechoslovakia.

The following is from Diplomat in Berlin September 22 1938:-

The Hungarian Envoy asked me again yesterday about Rumania's stand in the possible Hungarian-Czech conflict.

The Rumanian Envoy, who is realistic about the situation, upon arriving at an understanding with the Yugoslav Envoy, telegraphed the King
that a basic change in Czechoslovakia is to be expected. He pointed to the necessity of a prompt reorientation of Rumanian policy toward an understanding with Warsaw and Belgrade in order definitely to balance relations with Budapest, compensating Hungary on the Czechoslovakian side.

So, Rumania was saying that it was not going to give passage for Soviet troops and even told the French that they could not do it if they wanted to because of Poland. The Romanian diplomatic mission in Germany informed the king on the 22 September or before that a basic change was going to take place in Czechoslovakia. Yet on September 24 the king fell into a total panic ignored the Poles said nothing to the English and French who were not in favour of passage and told the Soviets come on in. I think this is a highly unlikely scenario.

Yes it is pure speculation or what if because the situation never came about. That Germany would have allowed the Red Army to move into western Czechoslovakia and done nothing is unlikely. As the Polish armed forces regarded the Soviets as their main possible enemy to have watched the Red Army moving into Czechoslovakia and outflanking them would I am sure have brought about some interesting conversations at the very least.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 25 Apr 2019 22:11

The problem with Churchill isn't that he wrote nonsense, but that he wrote nonsense many years after the events. The entire chapter shows he didn't understand what was going on and didn't want to understand. He reduced a complex political crisis to an oratory outburst from his high horse.

And now, when every one of these aids and advantages has been squandered and thrown away, Great Britain advances, leading France by the hand, to guarantee the integrity of Poland - of that very Poland which with hyena appetite had only six months before joined in the pillage and destruction of the Czechoslovak State.
There was sense in fighting for Czechoslovakia in 1938, when the German Army could scarcely put half a dozen trained divisions on the Western Front, when the French with nearly sixty or seventy divisions could most certainly have rolled forward across the Rhine or into the Ruhr. But this had been judged unreasonable, rash, below the level of modern intellectual thought and morality. Yet now at last the two Western democracies declared themselves ready to stake their lives upon the territorial integrity of Poland. History, which, we are told, is mainly the record of the crimes, follies, and miseries of mankind, may be scoured and ransacked to find a parallel to this sudden and complete reversal of five or six years' policy of easy-going placatory appeasement, and its transformation almost overnight into a readiness to accept an obviously imminent war on far worse conditions and on the greatest scale.
Moreover, how could we protect Poland and make good our guarantee? Only by declaring war upon Germany and attacking a stronger Western Wall and a more powerful German Army than those from which we had recoiled in September 1938.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 25 Apr 2019 22:37

From Soviet Union and the Failure of Collective Security, 1934-1938 by Jiri Hochman:
Titulescu finally [...] opened his talks with Litvinov in Geneva in September, hoping that "within the mutual assistance, the Soviet Union would guarantee the national independence of Rumania and of her allies." Titulescu also intended to achieve a treaty that would be directly aimed not at one country, but rather against any possible aggressor. He also sought "to ensure that Soviet troops proceeding to Czechoslovakia in fulfillment of the engagements arising from the Czechoslovak-Soviet pact should be confined to a single route through Rumania," and that "after the cessation of hostilities, they [the Soviet troops] would withdraw behind the Dniester" - a very sensible part of the project.

Along these lines, Titulescu drafted a proposal of the Soviet-Rumanian treaty of alliance, which he presented to Litvinov in Geneva in the first half of October. According to diplomatic reports, the ensuing short negotiations centered around three principal questions:
(1). A Soviet demand, formulated in the course of discussions on the Rumanian draft, according to which Rumania would be obliged to render military assistance to the Soviet Union against Poland;
(2). A Rumanian demand, the factual conditio sine qua non of Bucharest in the whole undertaking, that Moscow explicitly guarantee the territorial integrity of the Rumanian state.
(3). A Rumanian proposal that the Soviet Union render assistance against Bulgaria, and especially against Hungary in case of the latter country's participation in German aggression against Czechoslovakia.

Litvinov refused points 2 and 3, and Titulescu could not accept point 1, because Rumania had a valid alliance treaty with Poland - something that the commissar of course had to know fairly well in the first place.
In the European diplomatic world, busy as it was with the affair of Ethiopia, expectations were very high in the early autumn of 1935, especially when it became known that both sides already agreed that Titulescu would go to Moscow to sign the pact between October 25 and 29.
A compromise was probably found in the form of a secret clause, according to which Rumania would simply not oppose the passage of Soviet troops in case of a German aggression against Czechoslovakia.

Then, on October 24, Litvinov made a surprise public statement in which he declared that his talks with Titulescu had failed because of disagreement on Bessarabia (which was true), and also because of the alleged Rumanian refusal to permit the passage of Soviet troops to Czechoslovakia (which was false).
The Soviet government, said Litvinov, considered the whole pact irrelevant. [...]
In a new offer communicated to Moscow in February 1936, following an exchange of views with Litvinov in January, Titulescu emphasized the primary necessity to reach an agreement on the question of the passage of Soviet troops, as well as the importance of the Soviet pledge that the Red Army would be withdrawn from Rumania after the accomplishment of its mission in Central Europe.

Litvinov's answer to this Rumanian proposal was particularly arrogant. The Red Army was able to march through Rumania even against the will of Bucharest, he declared, because the Rumanian army was unable to offer any resistance.

The Soviet foreign ministry even conveyed this response to Prague through diplomatic channels.
The Czech foreign minister, Kamil Krofta, confidentially informed the French ambassador to Prague, Victor De Lacroix, on April 15, 1936, that "the USSR made known to Prague that in case of an attack on Czechoslovakia, the Russian Army would come to help through Rumania with or without the consent of the cabinet in Bucharest. M. Krofta knows that M. Titulescu is aware of this [Soviet] intention and that is one of the reasons which urge him to sign a pact of alliance with Russia."
The Soviet attitude toward Rumania could not fail to be duly noted in Warsaw, where its effect is not difficult to guess.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by Steve » 27 Apr 2019 02:19

Churchill’s writings after the war are not those of an impartial historian but of a man who wanted to be sure his actions would be remembered as he wished them to be. For example you would never know from his writings that the British debacle in Greece in 1941 was largely due to him. Prior to Munich Churchill had been arguing that Britain was unprepared for war against Germany but after Munich he argued that Britain should have gone to war which seems odd. Apparently Churchill’s idea on how a war would have proceeded was for that the French army to roll into Germany with the British cheering on the sidelines. It is unlikely that the French would have thought this a good idea. The advice of the British Chiefs of Staff was that in the event of war the fall of Czechoslovakia could not be prevented.

Titulescu was Romanian foreign minister till dismissed by the king in August 1936. In 1934 France started negotiations with the USSR on The Treaty of Mutual Assistance and Titulescu’s talks with the Soviets are in this context. In return for good relations with France Romania would settle its differences with the USSR. France hoped that other East European states would follow suite and an eastern front against Germany could thus be formed. Poland especially refused to have anything to do with the French idea as they had their own ideas on Eastern Europe. As Titulescu supported the French aim of including the USSR in the regions affairs Germany and Poland applied pressure or used their influence on people around the king to get rid of him.

Negotiations on the France USSR treaty started under French foreign minister Barthou but he was assassinated October 1934 and negotiations continued under his successor Laval. He was sceptical about Barthou’s ideas and it seems that the Treaty of Mutual Assistance signed in May 1935 reflected this.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by Futurist » 27 Apr 2019 22:39

It's quite interesting that France signed a mutual assistance treaty with the Soviet Union in 1935 but was unable to convert this treaty into an alliance with the Soviet Union just four years later.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 27 Apr 2019 23:17

The French had moral doubts about a treaty with the devil himself.
The Soviets (quite reasonably) didn't want to die for Paris for free.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by Steve » 29 Apr 2019 16:02

The 1935 treaty as signed had so many conditions in it that France was almost sure of finding a get out clause if it thought one was needed. Whatever Barthou intended his ideas seem to have died with him. However, this changed in 1939 when France became very keen on including the Soviets in an eastern front against Germany. Negotiations failed due to unreasonable Soviet demands, Polish refusal to co-operate and a lack of enthusiasm from the British. The French were right that a war against Germany needed a credible eastern front as well as a western front.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 29 Apr 2019 17:46

How is it possible to refuse if you are excluded from the beginning?
Not invited, not consulted, not informed.
The Soviets demanded a free hand in Poland - and in the Baltic States. Nobody even bothered to ask them.

Actually, the French intended to force Poland and the Baltic States under the Soviet bus but ran out of time.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by Steve » 30 Apr 2019 02:08

In order to be excluded you have to be denied access. When negotiations took place in 1939 nobody said to the Poles you are excluded from our negotiations, the Poles decided not to take part. The Soviets made the perfectly valid point of how were they supposed to help stop Hitler if the Red Army was not allowed entry into Poland. The Soviet Union did not have a land border with Germany.

Stalin did want what amounted to a free hand in the Baltic States but as far as I am aware he did not ask for the same in Poland. Of course the Red Army being in Poland may well have amounted to the same thing. France would quite likely have paid almost any price to get the Soviets onto the allied side. They seem to have understood in 1939 what nobody else did which was that a creditable eastern front was vital against Germany.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 30 Apr 2019 14:42

The Poles certainly weren't invited. But I'm open for evidence to the contrary.

The Alliance wasn't about saving Poland, or about defending Poland - because the Poles themselves didn't ask for it, and France didn't even want that, the French (quite reasonably) didn't want to die for Danzig by millions.
The French, Russians, British (and actually Poles too) tried the dying by millions for trivial causes during the Great War and understandably didn't like it.

It was about preserving peace by building a defense alliance strong enough to deter Hitler by the mere virtue of its existence.

From the military point of view, the best strategy was to wait at the Stalin line for the exhausted by battles with the Poles Germans and counterattack from there, under the cover of Soviet airforce.

The proposed advance into deep into Poland over a few railway tracks, exposing the Army to massive German air attacks was Germans wet dream, it would be a suicide.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by Steve » 01 May 2019 00:38

On March 22 1939 the British and French agreed to try and get a four power declaration calling for consultation in the event of a European countries independence being threatened. The four were to be the UK, France, Poland and the USSR. The Soviets had been sounded out on March 21 and agreed. On March 24 the Poles said no because they did not want to provoke Hitler.

In early April the Polish ambassador in Moscow Grzybowski talked to Litvinov about why Poland refused to associate itself with the Soviet Union. Grzybowski said that Poland would turn to the Soviet Union when necessary. Litvinov answered that they should take care not to do it too late.

At the end of April the British ambassador in Warsaw warned that trying to put pressure on Poland to join the USSR in an anti German coalition would make the situation worse.

On May 8 the British ambassador in Moscow Seeds presented British proposals to Molotov. Molotov asked about the Polish position and Seeds replied that Poland did not want to offend Nazi Germany i.e. no entry into Poland for the Red Army.

On May 14 the Soviets put forward proposals for a tripartite mutual assistance pact. On May 20 the British Foreign secretary Halifax met Bonnet in Paris. Halifax said that the Polish refusal to grant passage rights were a stumbling block to any agreement.

It’s possible to go on and on and on just like the talks in 1939.

It was vital in 1939 to bring the USSR into an alliance against Germany and with the benefit of hindsight we can see what the result of failing to do that meant. After Poland accepted the British guarantee it should have been clear that relations with Germany had gone down the pan. Given that Poland would be destroyed in a war against Germany why not agree that in the event of war the Red Army could enter Poland?

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 01 May 2019 08:24

In the interwar period, France never, at any point of time, committed herself to the defense of Poland, despite multiple Polish requests.
Eventually, France did it after the war started (and in bad faith anyway).
The Polish leaders were certain in case of a German attack the French would weasel out of their (limited and insufficient) commitments or would play for time.

And in such circumstances, the dangling in the wind Poland was going to give away her independence and get nothing in return, put herself at the mercy of a country, at that time, vastly worse than Nazi Germany.
At the drop of the hat, no negotiations, no agreements, being kept in the dark, no time given for consultation among the Poles themselves.

And really when?
12 August
SCHULENBURG to Berlin: the Soviet government is prepared to consider political negotiations after appropriate preparations and transitional stages from a trade agreement.
15 August
Voroshilov to Drax: I want a clear answer to my very clear question concerning the joint action of the Armed Forces of Britain, France and the Soviet Union against the common enemy ... should he attack. That is all I want to know. . . Do the French and British General Staffs think that the Soviet land forces will be admitted to Polish territory in order to make direct contact with the enemy in case Poland is attacked?
19 August
SCHULENBURG to Berlin: The Soviet Government agrees to the Reich Foreign Minister's coming to Moscow one week after proclamation of the signing of the economic agreement.
19 August
SCHULENBURG to Berlin: The Soviet non-aggression pact draft reads as follows [i.e. is ready to sign].
Cable from the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Embassies in London, Paris and Moscow on the possibility of the Red Army's entry into Polish territory
Warsaw, 20 August at 5:00 A.M.
Cipher cable No. 224
Secret.

The Ambassadors of France and England turned to me as a result of the French-English-Soviet staff negotiations, during which the Soviets demanded the possibility of coming into contact with the German army in Pomerania, the Suwalki area and in the Eastern Galicia region. The English and French demarche supported this position. I replied that it was unacceptable that these states should be debating about the military use of the territory of another sovereign state. Poland is not tied to the Soviets by any military accords and the Polish government has no intention of concluding such an accord.
Beck
21 August
SCHULENBURG to Berlin: Molotov delivered to me at 5 p. m. Stalin's answer, couched in very conciliatory form in reply to the Führer's message. Stalin advises that the Soviet Government agrees to the arrival of the Reich Foreign Minister on August 23.
22 August
Doumenc to Voroshilov: "The French government, had authorized me to sign an agreement consenting to Red Army passage across Poland."
Voroshilov: "Let's wait until everything becomes clear."
Cable from the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Embassy in London on possible Polish-Soviet military cooperation
Warsaw, 23 August 1939
Cipher cable No. 230
Secret
[...]
I declared that the Polish government did not believe in the effectiveness of these tactical interventions, but we worked out a formula to make the situation of the French-English delegation easier. With this I repeated, for internal use, our reservations about Soviet troops marching through Poland.
The formula would be that the French and English staffs are certain that, in the event of common action against aggressors, cooperation between the USSR and Poland, on conditions that remain to be defined, cannot be ruled out.
Given this, the staffs consider it necessary to conduct an analysis of all hypotheses with the Soviet staff.
[...]
I reiterated once again the indecency of the Soviets discussing our affairs with France and England without turning to us.
Beck
23 August
RIBBENTROP to Berlin: The Government of the German Reich and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics desirous of strengthening the cause of peace between Germany and the U.S.S.R ... have reached the following agreement [i.e. the pact was signed].
24 August: The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact is officially announced.
4 September: the military agreement between France and Poland is signed.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 01 May 2019 11:56

From The Republic in Danger by Martin S. Alexander:
Bonnet [...] put in doubt the meaning of the talks with Kasprzycki by refusing to sign the Franco-Polish political accord that was intended to provide the framework and governmental authorization for the 19 May protocol.
Indeed, the political agreement was supposed to embody and express the reciprocal determination by the French and Polish governments to come to the aid of one another if either were to be attacked by Germany so that it felt compelled to fight back.
Gamelin indeed knew that senior Quai d'Orsay officials were busy drafting the political document even as the military conversations with Kasprzycki and his fellow officers were proceeding. The very terms and language of the military protocol - which Gamelin appears to have drafted personally - rested on an assumption that it would draw its authority from and serve as a technical codicil to an inter-governmental agreement. With the conclusion of the latter, which Gamelin did not think was in doubt as the talks progressed, the military document was to be formally termed a 'general staffs accord' - a document representing firm and politically approved commitments in a way that a mere protocol of talks would not.

The officials at the Quay d'Orsay did draw up a document in time for signature before Kasprzycki's return to Warsaw.
This much Gamelin learned at the time by telephoning the secretary-general, Leger. Bonnet, however, declined to sign. An embarrassed and suspicious Gamelin then sought the arbitration of Daladier, the prime minister. But the latter, he discovered, had left Paris to spend the long Ascension Day weekend in the country and would not return until after the Polish minister's departure. In the circumstances, Gamelin and Kasprzycki signed the military protocol - which remained no more than that, Gamelin adding a prefatory note that its application would depend on the ultimate conclusion of the political agreement at a later date. Aware that the Poles were perplexed and disappointed at what had transpired, Gamelin made a point of saying farewell personally to Kasprzycki at the Gare du Nord, 'in order to ease the impression of uncertainty.'

Gamelin found the episode discomfiting and dishonorable. He claimed to be 'ulcerated that the minister for foreign affairs had not acted with greater frankness towards the command' and deplored the deviousness of Bonnet. The latter, according to Gamelin, was wrong to have let the Polish military delegation travel to Paris and hold talks if he had not intended to give the undertakings reached in these the authority of the expected inter-governmental agreement.
'Was this not', Gamelin wondered, 'likely to lead Poland to have only limited confidence in us and to face us one day with a fait accompli?'
It was certainly, as he also complained with a nicely sardonic note, 'very difficult' to keep French military conceptions adjusted to a foreign policy 'as versatile as this'. The senior civil servants at the Quai were to be exculpated from the fiasco, according to Gamelin; they were 'in despair' at Bonnet's actions which Gamelin insisted were 'prejudicial to the higher interests of France'.

What Gamelin learned from the whole mismanaged affair was how cunningly and single-mindedly Bonnet still clung to projects for further appeasement in eastern Europe.
Whereas by the end of 1938 Gamelin had become persuaded that Hitler's aims at least directly threatened France's reputation and future great power status - perhaps even its independence - Bonnet remained eager to strike deals.
His appeasement had not been ended by the evidence of Prague and Memel that Hitler did not keep his bargains. The foreign minister spent the summer months of 1939 in devious and complicated suggestions, inquiries and propositions designed to avoid France becoming involved in a war arising in the east.

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