How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Discussions on all aspects of Poland during the Second Polish Republic and the Second World War. Hosted by Peter K
User avatar
Steve
Member
Posts: 636
Joined: 03 Aug 2002 01:58
Location: United Kingdom

Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by Steve » 02 May 2019 02:45

The 1921 Franco Polish Mutual Assistance Treaty apparently committed France to defend Poland in case of German aggression. However it is such a complicated document that a study by the Polish General Staff concluded that in practice if Germany went about it the right way France would not be committed to defending Poland. Yes, Poland could not depend on France to give aid in case of war with Germany but it was not as simple as the French trying to find a reason to “weasel” out. Once Germany rearmed France could not go to war over Poland without the UK and the UK was under no obligation to defend Poland prior to March 31 1939.

That the Poles were not involved in talks about trying to form an eastern front with the USSR was because they refused to co-operate in anything that involved the USSR. Nobody excluded them since their participation was vital.. The British and French knew that without the participation of the USSR Poland would quickly collapse.

By August the Soviets had pretty much given up on the UK and France so from their perspective why not try to come to an arrangement with Hitler.

When Doumenc said to Voroshilov on 22 August that he was authorised to agree on the Red Army entering Poland it was an act of desperation by the French.

Cipher cable No, 230 says that co-operation with the USSR could not be ruled out and it was necessary to conduct an analysis of all hypotheses. This is like a crowd of people lighting Molotov cocktails in the garden while you have tea and biscuits with your wife and discuss what to do.

The talks between the French and Poles in April 1939 seem to be a cause of great misunderstanding. Even today many Poles believe that France committed itself to launch an offensive within fifteen days of a German attack on Poland. Wm’s informative post shows very clearly that France did not commit to launching an offensive within fifteen days. The signing of the military convention by the military personnel involved in the talks did not mean that the French state was committed to launching an offensive. The Poles assumed too much.

Bonnet may well have wanted to appease Hitler and keep France out of a Polish German war but you can’t blame him for that. However there is another possible reason why France put off ratifying the military protocol. A Polish author Jan Cialowicz has apparently shown that the French General Staff and politicians were not prepared to make any commitments beyond those assumed by the British. France did not declare war till after the UK just in case they were left hanging. There was also hope in April that an eastern front with the involvement of the USSR could be achieved. An alliance with the USSR would have transformed the military situation with regard to Poland.

Should Britain and France have gone to war over a country they had written off before a shot was fired? In October 1944 Churchill and Stalin divided Europe into spheres of influence. Should Chamberlain have sat down with Hitler and done the same in 1939?

User avatar
wm
Member
Posts: 4774
Joined: 29 Dec 2006 20:11
Location: Poland

Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 02 May 2019 21:43

The problem was the Soviets and their demands that they were paid for their help, not Poland.

France or Britain could have paid with Poland for Soviet services, or/and with the Baltic states.
But they had no right to demand the Poles liked it.

For the Poles, it didn't matter who would invade them. Actually, the expectations were the German occupation would be (much) better.
Any other country would in such circumstances choose an alliance with Germany (and they did!) except Poland.
Last edited by wm on 02 May 2019 22:26, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
wm
Member
Posts: 4774
Joined: 29 Dec 2006 20:11
Location: Poland

Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 02 May 2019 22:02

Letter from the Ambassador in Paris to the Ambassador in London about his discussion with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs
Paris, 6 June 1939
Secret

Dear Edward,
Acting on instructions from Minister Beck, I am eager to communicate to you the following: On Saturday, 3 June, Minister Bonnet informed me of the substance of the Soviet answer to the latest English-French proposal.
[...]
In the opinion of Minister Bonnet, the Soviet answer is a counter-proposal marked by double blackmail. Even supposing that an understanding would be possible about the formula of a political agreement, it is entirely unclear what the Soviet demands would be for the conclusion of a military agreement, on which they make dependent the entry into force of the political agreement.
The first article in the Soviet version contains, according to Minister Bonnet, the demand for French and English agreement to a direct Soviet military intervention on the territory of all Eastern European countries, including Poland, and is obviously unacceptable.
[...]

To Minister Bonnet's question about my opinion on the Soviet answer, I replied more or less as follows.

1) It is clear that the Soviet government specifically aims to secure French and English agreement to intervene on the territory of the Baltic States, even against their wishes. This is indicated not only by the substance of the pronouncement made by the Soviet government to France and England, but also by Moscow's recent exchange of notes with Tallinn and Riga, which caused Estonia to adopt a very categorical stance, reserving for the government of that country the exclusive right to judge if and to what degree it was threatened.

2) By stating such far-reaching conditions as the ones contained in Moscow's last reply, the Soviet government either wishes to complicate negotiations and remain in reserve for as long as possible, or is hoping that France and England, giving in to pressure from within, will accept a compromise consistent with the wishes of Soviet policy and will, in turn, compromise their credibility with a number of states with which they cooperate.

3) It is clear that if France and England were to acquiesce to the Soviet counter-proposals, this would call into question the policy of almost all Eastern European countries, which would find themselves facing the issue of what threat is greater - the German or the Soviet one.
We should not forget that the Romanians stated categorically only a few weeks ago that if they had to choose between an active Soviet intervention on their territory and even a heavy compromise with Germany, they would choose the latter. The same can no doubt be said of the Baltic states
, which cannot be under any direct the threat from Germany, whereas with Soviet Russia they share open borders.
[...]
ISBN 978-83-89607-72-0. Polish Documents on Foreign Policy. 24 October 1938 – 30 September 1939

User avatar
wm
Member
Posts: 4774
Joined: 29 Dec 2006 20:11
Location: Poland

Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 03 May 2019 12:20

The Soviets, pursuing their long-term goal of world domination, and the interim goal of weakening of the existing European order were shopping for the right ally, desperate enough to help them in their plans.

In the end, Nazi Germany delivered more value, more help than the encumbered by pangs of conscience Allies.

It wasn't like nobody knew that at that time.
From The War Problem of the Soviet Union by George F. Kennan, written in 1935:
The Soviet government has undertaken and largely carried out a tremendous program of militarization. All the resources of the Soviet State have been applied to the construction of a vast military machine. The entire economic and social character of the country has been changed for this purpose. For years, the energies of the people have been harnessed for the execution of an enormous program of military industrialization, masked as a five-year period of ordinary economic planning.

Simultaneously, the country has undergone a moral militarization of almost inconceivable scope. Linguistic skeletons, buried since the days of Tsarist nationalism, have been resurrected from the pages of the past to repeat their historic roles in the stimulation of mass emotion. All the clichés and gags of classic chauvinism have been revived to dominate the minds of a younger generation already none too well developed in its capacity for independent judgment. A generation has been reared whose patriotic arrogance and whose ignorance of the outside world rival the formidable traditions which the history of Tsardom can offer in this respect. The extent of the efforts of the Soviet government along the lines of militarization has been such that if a war should not come within the next two decades, the lives and works of an entire generation will have been sacrificed in vain.

Meanwhile, the Soviet foreign office has gone about its appointed task of postponing military complications. In this the main weapon, after the establishment of diplomatic relations, has been the non-aggression pact. Such treaties, in one form or another, have been concluded with several countries, including most of those along the western border, and Russia has professed readiness to conclude a number of others. The motives are abvious. Russia does not expect to attack any one by declaring war out of a blue sky and subsequently sending troops over the border. If she ever wants to attack, there will always be a communist faction in the victim country, ready to rise against the government in civil war and to request the intervention of the Red Army in the name of the whole population.

Non-aggression clauses, on the other hand, may prove embarrassing to the other party, whose diplomatic technique may be less nimble, and whose greater disinterestedness in the internal affairs of other countries may deprive it of some of those advantages which Moscow enjoys. From Moscow's point of view, the non-aggression clause is a measure of security with few of the fetters of responsibility. As an impediment in the way of military conflict, particularly at a time when it suits Russia's interests to fight, it can be dismissed from serious consideration.

Of late, Russia's policy in the west has been characterized by a readiness to enter into obligations more far-going than those of the non-aggression pacts, namely, promises of military assistance to other states. An obligation of this sort, however innocuous, is contained in the Covenant of the League of Nations, to which Russia now subscribed. The proposed Eastern Pact, which Russia has supported with such fervor, is based on this principle. Finally, the alliance recently concluded with France and Czechoslovakia bind Russia to military action in Western Europe under certain definite circumstances.

These obligations might not be dangerous if they really promoted the establishment of European peace. Unfortunately, it is difficult to believe that they serve this purpose. The policy of encirclement of Germany would appear to be motivated in Russia's case not only by a fear of German aggression but also by a determination to prevent at any cost the achievement of any real diplomatic settlement and understanding among the western European powers. Moscow considers, and has always considered, that any such settlement would threaten its own existence. For this reason, it is the most unalterable opponent of any effective peace in the west. If the execution of this policy is as successful in the future as it has been in the past, there can be only one result: another European war.
It is possible to believe that Russia might keep out of such a war at the beginning. In view of the frank cynicism with which she views treaty obligations, it may be questioned whether she would even comply with her undertakings regarding military assistance unless this happened to coincide with her interests at the given moment. But even this gives little ground to hope that she would not eventually be drawn into hostilities.

Even supposing she did not enter a European war at the start: - later, when the other participants had weakened themselves to the point of exhaustion, when they were faced with economic collapse and social disorder, it would be too much to expect that the revolutionary appetite of a generation of fanatical young Russians could be controlled. Moscow has tasted the wine of proletarian imperialism after one world war, and though the cup was promptly snatched from her lips, the flavor has not been forgotten.
She may be able to keep off the next battlefields of Europe at the start; she will hardly resist the temptation to come in at the end, if only in the capacity of a vulture. Social fanatism, militarism, chauvinism, and a cynical policy of driving a wedge between one's neighbors: these may be means for postponing a war. They are not the same means of avoiding it.

User avatar
Steve
Member
Posts: 636
Joined: 03 Aug 2002 01:58
Location: United Kingdom

Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by Steve » 04 May 2019 01:21

Very interesting that Bonnet communicated to the Poles the Soviet offer of June 2. I don’t have access to Polish Documents on Foreign Policy so am curious about whether Bonnet also communicated the Soviet proposals of April 18 which were very similar. If not then you have to wonder why the June proposals were communicated and not the April proposals. Bonnet wrote on May 26 “….If negotiations fail it is necessary at any price that the blame falls on the USSR and not on us”. By the end of May the talks had stalled and Molotov on May 27 accused the French and British governments of bad faith. Could it be that Bonnet told the Poles what the Soviets had suggested knowing what their reaction would be. A failure of the talks could then be blamed on Polish intransigence and unreasonable Soviet demands.

On July 1 the British and French presented Molotov with new proposals. Soviet terms for assistance to “guaranteed” countries would be accepted as long as Holland and Switzerland in the west were added to the list. Molotov then raised new demands “indirect” aggression would also entitle the Soviet Union to give “assistance”. Indirect aggression covered such things as in the Soviets opinion a reversal of policy in favour of the aggressor. This would apply to all guaranteed countries: Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Poland, Rumania Turkey, Greece and Belgium. Holland and Switzerland would be excluded unless Poland and Rumania concluded mutual assistance pacts with the USSR. The British would not agree but the French insisted that negotiations continue. As Bonnet had informed the Poles of the Soviet June proposals it is surprising to see that he sent a message to Halifax on July 19 urging him to conclude an agreement with the Soviets on any terms.

Meetings between German and Soviet diplomats had started in May and it seems that by June Stalin was pondering about which side would give him the best deal.

We know exactly what Chamberlain the head of the British government was thinking because on May 21 he wrote a letter to his sister. “I have had a very tiresome week over the Russians whose methods of conducting negotiations include the publication in the press of all their despatches and continuous close communication with the opposition and Winston. I wish I knew what sort of people we are dealing with. They may be just simple straight forward people but I cannot rid myself of the suspicion that they are chiefly concerned to see the capitalist powers tear each other to pieces while they stay out themselves. It appears that we shall have to take the fateful decision next week whether to enter into an alliance with them or break off negotiations. Those who advocate the former say that if we don’t agree Russia and Germany will come to an understanding which to my mind is a pretty sinister commentary on Russian reliability. But some of the members of the cabinet who were most unwilling to agree to the alliance now appear to have swung round to the opposite view. In the end I think much will depend on the attitude of Poland & Rumania. If bringing in Russia meant their running out I should think the change was a very disastrous one”.
Perhaps Poland had a friend in Chamberlain.

Taken from The Great Powers & Poland 1919 – 1945 by Jan Karski also 1939 The Alliance That Never Was by Michael Jabara Carley.

User avatar
Steve
Member
Posts: 636
Joined: 03 Aug 2002 01:58
Location: United Kingdom

Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by Steve » 04 May 2019 02:54

George F Kennan certainly seems to have had a better understanding of the sort of regime Stalin was running than most politicians in the west but he may have over egged the cake slightly.

From 1926 the policy of the Soviet Union was Socialism in One Country, as the ideas behind this policy owed much to Stalin no one was going to oppose it. The Comintern had been set up to bring about world revolution but by the mid 30s communist parties were trying to work through popular fronts. Of course the Comintern would take advantage of any favourable situation but I doubt that Stalin and his cronies really believed they could dominate the world. Stalin’s purges seriously weakened the Comintern and I read somewher he wiped out most of the Polish communist party.

Kennan was right about the construction of a huge military machine. However, imperial Russia had been defeated by the Japanese and the Germans. This had been followed by various countries intervening in the Russian civil war. In the 1930s Germany under Hitler was openly hostile while Poland, Rumania and Japan were covertly hostile. The USSR needed a strong military that could fight a two front war.

It could be argued that the huge Soviet military build was larger than was necessary just for defence. Quite possibly Stalin would have moved west if Germany was bogged down in a war against the allies or exhausted. It does seem that when Hitler stabbed Stalin in the back Stalin was not planning on stabbing Hitler in the back any time soon.

If Kennan could see in 1935 what sort of a State the USSR under Stalin was you have to wonder why Roosevelt and Churchill never apparently understood that they were dealing with the devil incarnate.

User avatar
wm
Member
Posts: 4774
Joined: 29 Dec 2006 20:11
Location: Poland

Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 05 May 2019 22:53

Socialism in one country was something else. According to the Stalinist Bible, Short Course:
As a result of a study of pre-imperialist capitalism Engels and Marx arrived at the conclusion that the Socialist revolution could not be victorious in one country, taken singly, that it could be victorious only by a simultaneous stroke in all, or the majority of the civilized countries. That was in the middle of the nineteenth century. This conclusion later became a guiding principle for all Marxists.
However, by the beginning of the twentieth century, pre-imperialist capitalism had grown into imperialist capitalism, ascendant capitalism had turned into moribund capitalism. As a result of a study of imperialist capitalism, Lenin, on the basis of the Marxist theory, arrived at the conclusion that the old formula of Engels and Marx no longer corresponded to the new historical conditions, and that the victory of the Socialist revolution was quite possible in one country, taken singly.
The opportunists of all countries clung to the old formula of Engels and Marx and accused Lenin of departing from Marxism. But it was Lenin, of course, who was the real Marxist who had mastered the theory of Marxism, and not the opportunists, for Lenin was advancing the Marxist theory by enriching it with new experience, whereas the opportunists were dragging it back, mummifying it.
Socialism in One Country was an ideological correction of Marxism because Marxism had become incompatible with reality, it had nothing to do with the willingness to spread communism.
Marxism didn't require conquering other countries but didn't forbid it either. As the worldwide victory of communism was inevitable there was nothing wrong with helping some folks to achieve the goal earlier, actually, it was the morally right thing to do.
That was why Comintern was created, to spread communism, to foster revolutions.

Stalin to Dimitrov, the seven day of the war:
- Under conditions of an imperialist war, the prospect of the annihilation of slavery [i.e. capitalism] arises.
[...]
- (Poland is] a fascist state, oppressing Ukrainians, Belorussians, and so forth.
- The annihilation of that state under current conditions would mean one fewer bourgeois fascist state to contend with!
- What would be the harm if as a result of the rout of Poland we were to extend the socialist system onto new territories and populations?

User avatar
wm
Member
Posts: 4774
Joined: 29 Dec 2006 20:11
Location: Poland

Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 05 May 2019 23:36

Unsigned note about the pronouncements of the Soviet Ambassador in Paris
20 April 1939
THE USSR AND THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION.

Circles close to the Soviet Plenipotentiary Representation in Paris communicate what follows: Prior to his departure for Moscow, Surits organized a 'tea party' at the Polpredl for leftist groups, mainly communists, socialists, and deputies. During this 'tea party' long discussions were held on the subject of prospects for the USSR's joining international 'guarantee' combinations.
[...]
The USSR fears that, having tied itself with strong military and alliance guarantee obligations in relation to countries which could be assaulted by Germany in the east and south-east of Europe, the Red Army would have to bear the brunt of the principal strike of the German armed forces, as the USSR borders on those countries that are the object of German aggression and would immediately have to send its troops onto the territory of those countries, thus showing them absolute support.
[...]
In those circumstances, the struggle of the coalition against Germany will be transformed in principle into a Soviet-German war (France will be sitting behind the Maginot line, making demonstrations of cautious proportions from time to time, given that it is tied down by the Italian and Spanish border and the necessity of fighting in Africa. England can limit itself to defending the Netherlands, possibly Belgium, and to fighting in the air).
[...]
in principle the point of view of the USSR remains the same, namely: It is first necessary to determine entirely and precisely the norms of the USSR's collaboration with France and England, as the main members of the coalition. Only in the event of the sufficiency for the USSR of these technical norms (i.e., 'the just distribution of military efforts between all members of the coalition, etc.') will it be possible to talk of the USSR's committing itself to a strong obligation, in the sense of absolute military assistance.
In order to decide on such norms for military and technical collaboration, it would be most desirable, according to the USSR, to call a conference of the Three: France, England and the USSR. The results of this conference would reveal the viability and feasibility of the USSR's taking on new obligations going beyond those that are already covered in the Soviet-French pact.
[...]
Surits drew the attention of his interlocutors to the recent discussion on the pages of Sovetskoe Pravo, the USSR's principal legal daily. In Vyshinsky's argumentation, it was simply stated that 'in the event of the appearance of Red Army units on the territory of bourgeois states pursuant to the USSR's international obligations, the Red Army units can be subject only to Soviet norms of wartime criminal and other law'.
[...]
The USSR thinks it absolutely necessary in order not to 'embolden individual assailants' to give the mutual assistance pact the character of a 'universal pact of general security' that would be applicable everywhere in Europe and in the Far East. Specifically speaking, this means that the USSR should be secure in case of an attack by Japan.
At the same time, Surits didn't hide from his interlocutors that in Moscow it was generally regarded as highly improbable that Germany would attack the USSR and, for this reason, the USSR's assistance in Europe was considered 'unilateral', one without equivalent from the other side.
The USSR presumes that in the event of aggression on the part of the fascist-totalitarian bloc, at a certain specific stage an assault by Japan on the USSR is a possibility and, for this reason, the Soviet government, before offering guarantees to the European states against German aggression, would like to obtain guarantees for the Far East from England and France. Surits also said that, in its time, the position of Paris, which did not wish to include in the Soviet-French pact an obligation for the French to assist the Soviets in the Far East, made a very negative impression on Stalin, so he presently intends to avenge the diplomatic setback that the USSR sustained during the Paris negotiations of Potyomkin and Dovgalevsky.
[...]
Finally, Surits declared that during the last meeting between Merekalov, the polpred in Berlin, and von Ribbentrop, Merekalov obtained far-reaching assurances from the German minister of foreign affairs that Germany considered the Soviet-German non-aggression agreement as binding and was ready to confirm this point of view in a most formal manner, even in the form of a personal declaration by the Reichsführer. Von Ribbentrop then expressed the hope that the USSR would also treat this agreement as binding and would refrain from signing any obligations that would, formally or in practice, annul its significance.
As can be seen, Stalin wasn't afraid of Germany at all and didn't believe Germany would attack the USSR - for these reasons he demanded a much higher price for his services.
In the end, the Allies did nothing to fulfill his demands, sent to two ignorant negotiators, who literally knew nothing.
The Allies didn't have their own proposal of a pact of general security, didn't have their own plan of the war.
Stalin had to choose between nothing and the German realistic and substantial offer.

Ironically "France will be sitting behind the Maginot line" and "the struggle of the coalition against Germany will be transformed in principle into a Soviet-German war" were absolutely correct.
We know today that France would be sitting and the USSR would face the full brunt of the war.

Stalin to Dimitrov:
We preferred agreements with the so-called democratic countries and therefore conducted negotiations.
- But the English and the French wanted us for farmhands and at no cost!
- We, of course, would not go for being farmhands, still less for getting nothing in return.

Bonnet wasn't really very eager to communicate anything. Poland was too insignificant to hang out with the cool people.
So probably this unsigned note was the only information the Poles had.

User avatar
Steve
Member
Posts: 636
Joined: 03 Aug 2002 01:58
Location: United Kingdom

Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by Steve » 08 May 2019 15:29

If the UK and France wanted a military alliance with the Soviets they would have had to commit to an agreement that was immoral and violated what they claimed to be fighting for. Chamberlain was never keen on an alliance with communists unless it was on his terms and they were unacceptable to the Soviets. He had no wish to see the Red Army marching into central Europe. It seems that the French towards the end of the negotiations would have given Stalin what he wanted. Without an eastern front in 1914/15 France may well have lost WW1.

If there was going to be war in 1939 then it was going to be over Poland. If you look at it from the Soviet point of view how could they commit to defending a country that would not even hold staff talks with them. The Poles were probably right in thinking that to admit the Red Army was just another way for them to lose their independence.

The British thought that eventually because of the huge imbalance between Germany and the small eastern European states German dominance of the region was inevitable. If it was inevitable then why not stand aside and let it happen rather quicker than expected. German dominance in Eastern Europe may well have led to war with the Soviet Union. Would this have been a better outcome for Britain and France than taking on Germany by themselves when as was clearly shown they could not defeat Germany.

User avatar
wm
Member
Posts: 4774
Joined: 29 Dec 2006 20:11
Location: Poland

Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 08 May 2019 19:17

Although the Soviets never asked Poland for anything. Never proposed any agreement or an alliance.
Beck was actually willing but nobody invited him, nor the Soviets, nor the French.
10 May. Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Ambassador in Moscow about Polish intentions with regard to the USSR
Polmission Moscow

On the occasion of your next meeting with Molotov, please declare that the Polish government stands on the firm position of the non-aggression pact of 1932 and presumes that recent events have demonstrated in a manner leaving no room for doubt the sincerity of the Polish government's intentions. The Polish government is counting on the reciprocity of the USSR's government.

The reservations that we have raised about the extension of existing accords between us and the Soviet Union had to do primarily with the fact that the French government, without any empowerment on our part, engaged with the Soviet Union in discussions concerning relations between our countries that could not have been realized otherwise than through a direct understanding between Warsaw and Moscow.

In addition, the Polish government is convinced that it is working most effectively for peace by pursuing a policy of non-aggression with regard to all its neighbors, on a reciprocal basis, of course.
The difficulty in concluding an agreement on mutual assistance between Poland and the Soviet Union has to do with a lack of practical reciprocity on Poland's part, and the Polish government, as a matter of principle, does not enter into obligations that are not reciprocal by nature. This does not in the least diminish the lasting commitment of the Polish government not to join any international agreements that would be aggressive in nature with respect to the Soviet Union. Under the circumstances, the Polish government assumes that there are grounds for lasting and friendly, neighborly relations between our countries.
Beck
so not only France couldn't afford Soviet services, but Poland also.

I don't think it was over Poland, it was all about stopping Hitler before he would get too powerful.
Poland was just a line in the sand - to be trampled to death in the process.

And it wasn't that easy, at the same time he wrote:
Our position on the Soviet-French-English negotiations can be neither negative nor positive, as we are not a party to those negotiations, and it is not up to us to hamper the policy of any of those three countries in this matter.
We would only have reservations, in keeping with the principle 'nothing about us without us', about the settlement of Polish affairs during those negotiations (such as assistance for Poland).
As to our participation in any arrangement of this kind, we are upholding our reservation that a Polish-Soviet mutual assistance agreement could be seen as provocative by Germany and bring the conflict closer.
As for the enlargement of the Polish-Romanian alliance, we are also upholding our reservations that such a revision would determine the position of Hungary, thus immediately exposing Romania.
Any agreement with the USSR makes an immediate war with Germany certain and forces Hungary to switch sides.

User avatar
henryk
Member
Posts: 2263
Joined: 27 Jan 2004 01:11
Location: London, Ontario

Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by henryk » 08 May 2019 21:43

https://histdoc.net/history/molotov310839.htm
Speech by Commissar Molotov at the Supreme Soviet on the Soviet-German non-aggression pact
Speech Delivered on August 31st, 1939 [Russian text: Presentation of Comr. Molotov at the meeting of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on 31st of August, 1939]

[Comrades!] SINCE the third session of the Supreme Soviet the inter-national situation has shown no change for the better. On the contrary it has become even more tense. Steps taken by various governments to put an end to this state of tension have obviously proved inadequate. This is true of Europe. Nor has there been any change for the better in Eastern Asia. Japanese troops continue to occupy principal cities and a considerable part of the territory of China. Nor is Japan refraining from hostile acts against the U.S.S.R. Here, too, the situation has changed in the direction of further aggravation.

In view of this state of affairs the conclusion of a pact of non-aggression between the U.S.S.R. and Germany is of tremendous positive value, eliminating the danger of war between Germany and the Soviet Union. In order more fully to define the significance of this pact I must first dwell on the negotiations which have taken place in recent months in Moscow with representatives of Great Britain and France.

As you are aware, Anglo-French-Soviet negotiations for the conclusion of a pact of mutual assistance against aggression in Europe began as far back as April. True, the initial proposals of the British Government were, as you know, entirely unacceptable. They ignored the prime requisites for such negotiations—they ignored the principle of reciprocity and the equality of obligations. In spite of this the Soviet Government did not reject negotiations and in its turn put forward its own proposals. We appreciated the fact that it was difficult for the Governments of Great Britain and France to make an abrupt change in their policy from the unfriendly attitude towards the Soviet Union, which had existed until quite recently, to serious negotiations with the U.S.S.R., based on conditions of equality of obligations. However, the subsequent negotiations were not justified by results. The Anglo-French-Soviet negotiations lasted for four months. They helped to clarify a number of questions. At the same time they made it clear to the representatives of Great Britain and France that the Soviet Union had to be seriously reckoned with in international affairs.

But these negotiations encountered insuperable obstacles. The trouble of course did not lie in individual "formulations," or in particular clauses of the draft pact. No, the trouble was much more serious. The conclusion of a pact of mutual assistance against aggression would have been of value only if Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union had arrived at an agreement as to definite military measures against the attack of an aggressor.

Accordingly for some time, not only political but also military negotiations were conducted in Moscow with the representatives of the British and French armies. However, nothing came of the military negotiations. They encountered the difficulty that Poland, who was to be jointly guaranteed by Great Britain, France, and the U.S.S.R., rejected military assistance on the part of the Soviet Union. Attempts to overcome the objections of Poland met with no success. More, the negotiations showed that Great Britain was not anxious to overcome these objections of Poland, but on the contrary encouraged them.

It is clear that, such being the attitude of the Polish Government and its principal ally towards military assistance by the Soviet Union in the event of aggression, the Anglo-French-Soviet negotiations could not bear fruit. After this it became evident to us that the Anglo-French-Soviet negotiations were doomed to failure.

What have the negotiations with Great Britain and France shown? They have shown that the position of Great Britain and France is characterized throughout by crying contradictions. Judge for yourselves.

On the one hand, Great Britain and France demanded that the U.S.S.R. should give military assistance to Poland in case of aggression. The U.S.S.R., as you know, was willing to meet this demand, provided the U.S.S.R. itself received like assistance from Great Britain and France. On the other hand, the same Great Britain and France brought Poland on to the scene, and the latter resolutely declined any military assistance on the part of the U.S.S.R. Just try in such circumstances to reach an agreement regarding mutual assistance— when assistance on the part of the U.S.S.R. is declared beforehand to be unnecessary and an intrusion!

Further, on the one hand, Great Britain and France offered a guarantee to the Soviet Union of military assistance against aggression, in return for like assistance on the part of the U.S.S.R. On the other hand they hedged round their assistance with such reservations regarding indirect aggression as might convert this assistance into a myth, and provided them with a formal legal excuse for evading assistance and placing the U.S.S.R. in a position of isolation in face of the aggressor. Just try and distinguish between such a "pact of mutual assistance" and a pact of more or less camouflaged chicanery! [In the Russian text: (Cheerful revival in a hall.)]

Again, on the one hand, Great Britain and France stressed the importance and gravity of the negotiations for a pact of mutual assistance, and demanded that the U.S.S.R. should treat the matter most seriously and settle very rapidly all questions concerning the pact. On the other hand, they themselves displayed extreme dilatoriness and anything but a serious attitude towards the negotiations, entrusting them to individuals of secondary importance who were not invested with adequate powers. It is enough to mention that the British and French military missions came to Moscow without any definite powers and without the right to conclude any military convention. [(Cheerful revival in the hall.)] Furthermore, the British military mission arrived in Moscow without any mandate at all [(general laughter)] and it was only on the demand of our military mission that, on the very eve of the breakdown of negotiations, they presented written credentials. But even these credentials were of the vaguest kind, i.e. credentials without proper weight. Just try and distinguish between this light-hearted attitude towards the negotiations on the part of Great Britain and France, and frivolous make-believe negotiations designed to discredit the whole business of negotiations!

Such were the intrinsic contradictions in the attitude of Great Britain and France which led to the breakdown of negotiations with the U.S.S.R. What is the root of these contradictions in the position of Great Britain and France? In a few words, it can be put as follows:

On the one hand the British and French Governments fear aggression, and for that reason would like to have a pact of mutual assistance with the Soviet Union, in so far as it would strengthen them—Great Britain and France. But on the other hand the British and French Governments are afraid that the conclusion of a real pact of mutual assistance with the U.S.S.R. may strengthen our country—the Soviet Union—which it appears does not answer their purpose. One cannot but see that these fears outweighed other considerations. Only in this way can we understand the position of Poland, which has been acting on the instructions of Great Britain and France.

I shall now go on to the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact.

The decision to conclude a non-aggression pact between the U.S.S.R. and Germany was adopted after military negotiations with France and Great Britain had reached an impasse owing to the insuperable difficulties I have mentioned. As the negotiations had shown that the conclusion of a pact of mutual assistance could not be expected, we could not but explore other possibilities of ensuring peace and eliminating the danger of war between Germany and the U.S.S.R. If the British and French Governments refused to reckon with this, that is their affair. It is our duty to think of the interests of the Soviet people, the interests of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics[(prolonged applause)]—all the more because we are firmly convinced that the interests of the U.S.S.R. coincide with the fundamental interests of the peoples of other countries.[(Applause)]

But that is only one side of the matter. Another circumstance was required before the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact could come into existence. It was necessary that in her foreign policy Germany should make a turn towards good neighbourly relations with the Soviet Union. Only when this second condition was fulfilled, only when it became clear to us that the German Government desired to change its foreign policy so as to secure an improvement of relations with the U.S.S.R., was a basis found for the conclusion of the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact.

Everybody knows that during the last six years, ever since the National-Socialists came into power, political relations between Germany and the U.S.S.R. have been strained. Everybody also knows that, despite the differences of outlook and political systems, the Soviet Government has endeavoured to maintain normal business and political relations with Germany.

There is no need just now to revert to individual incidents in these relations during recent years—and indeed they are sufficiently well known to you, comrades. I must, however, recall the explanation of our foreign policy given several months ago at the Eighteenth Party Congress. Speaking of our tasks in the realm of foreign policy, Comrade Stalin defined our attitude to other countries as follows:

"(1) To continue a policy of peace and of strengthening business relations with all countries;

" (2) to be cautious and not to allow our country to be drawn into conflicts by warmongers who are accustomed to have others pull chestnuts out of the fire for them." [(Cheerful revival in the hall.)]

As you see, Comrade Stalin declared in these conclusions that the Soviet Union stands for strengthening business relations with all countries. But at the same time he warned us against warmongers who were anxious in their own interests to involve our country in conflicts with other countries. Exposing the hullabaloo raised in the British, French, and North American press about Germany's "plans" for the seizure of Soviet Ukraine, Comrade Stalin said:

" It looks as if the object of this suspicious hullabaloo was to incense the Soviet Union against Germany, to poison the atmosphere and to provoke a conflict with Germany without any visible grounds."

As you see, Comrade Stalin hit the nail on the head when he exposed the machinations of West European politicians who were trying to set Germany and the Soviet Union at loggerheads. It must be confessed that there were some short-sighted people also in our country who, carried away by an over-simplified anti-Fascist propaganda, forgot about this provocative work of our enemies. Mindful of this, Comrade Stalin even then suggested the possibility of different, unhostile, and good neighbourly relations between Germany and the U.S.S.R.

It can now be seen that, on the whole, in Germany they understood correctly these statements of Comrade Stalin, and they have drawn practical deductions from them. The conclusion of the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact shows that Comrade Stalin's historical foresight has been brilliantly confirmed. [(Stormy ovation in honor of Comr. Stalin.)]

In the spring of this year the German Government made a proposal for the resumption of commercial and credit negotiations. Negotiations were resumed soon after. By making mutual concessions we succeeded in reaching an agreement. As you know, this agreement was signed on August 19, 1939. This was not the first commercial and credit agreement concluded with Germany under her present Government.

But this agreement differs favourably not only from that concluded in 1935, but also from all previous agreements, not to mention the fact that we have never had any equally advantageous economic agreement with Great Britain, France, or any other country. The agreement is advantageous to us because of its credit conditions (a seven-year credit) and because it enables us to order a considerable additional quantity of the equipment we need. By this agreement the U.S.S.R. undertakes to sell to Germany a definite quantity of our surplus raw materials for her industry, which fully answers to the interests of the U.S.S.R.

Why should we reject such an advantageous economic agreement? Surely not to please those who, in general, are averse to the Soviet Union having advantageous economic agreements with other countries? And it is clear that the commercial and credit agreement with Germany is fully in accord vith the economic interests and defensive needs of the Soviet Union. Such an agreement is fully in accord with the decision of the Eighteenth Congress of our Party, which approved Comrade Stalin's statement as to the need for "strengthening business relations with all countries."

At the same time, when the German Government expressed a desire to improve political relations as well, the Soviet Government had no grounds for refusing. It was then that the question of concluding a non-aggression pact arose. Voices are now being heard which show a lack of understanding of the most simple reasons for the improvement in the political relations between the Soviet Union and Germany which has begun.

For example, people ask, with an air of innocence, how could the Soviet Union consent to improve its political relations with a State of a Fascist type? Is that possible, they ask. But they forget that it is not a question of our attitude towards the internal regime of another country but of foreign relations between two States. They forget that our position is that we do not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, and correspondingly do not tolerate interference in our own internal affairs. Furthermore, they forget an important principle of our foreign policy which was formulated by Comrade Stalin at the Eighteenth Party Congress as follows:

"We stand for peace and the strengthening of business relations with all countries. That is our position; and we shall maintain this position so long as these countries maintain similar relations with the Soviet Union, and so long as they make no attempt to trespass on the interests of our country."

The meaning of these words is quite clear. The Soviet Union strives to maintain good neighbourly relations with all non-Soviet countries, in so far as these countries maintain a like attitude towards the Soviet Union. In our foreign policy towards non-Soviet countries we have always beens guided by Lenin's well-known principle of the peaceful coexistence of the Soviet State and capitalist countries.

Many examples might be quoted to show how this principle has been carried out in practice; but I will confine myself to only a few. We have for instance a Non-Aggression and Neutrality Treaty with Fascist Italy ever since 1933. It has never occurred to anybody as yet to object to this treaty: and that is natural. Inasmuch as this pact meets the interests of the U.S.S.R., it is in accord with our principle of the peaceful co-existence of the U.S.S.R. and capitalist countries. We have non-aggression pacts also with Poland and with certain other countries, whose semi-Fascist system is well known. These pacts have not given rise to any misgivings either.

Perhaps it would not be superfluous to mention the fact that we have not even treaties of this kind with certain other non-Fascist, bourgeois democratic countries— with Great Britain herself, for instance. But that is not our fault.

Since 1926 the political basis of our relations with Germany has been the Treaty of Neutrality which was prolonged by the present German Government in 1933. This Treaty of Neutrality remains in force to this day. The Soviet Government considered it desirable even before this to take a further step towards improving political relations with Germany, but circumstances have been such that this has become possible only now.

It is true that, in the present case, we are dealing not with a pact of mutual assistance, as in the case of the Anglo-French-Soviet negotiations, but only with a non-aggression pact. Nevertheless, conditions being what they are it is difficult to overestimate the international importance of the Soviet-German pact. That is why we favoured the visit of the German Minister for Foreign Affairs, Herr von Ribbentrop, to Moscow.

August 23, 1939, the day the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact was signed, is to be regarded as a date of great historical importance. The non-aggression pact between the U.S.S.R. and Germany marks a turning point in the history of Europe, and not of Europe alone. Only yesterday German Fascists were pursuing a foreign policy hostile to us. Yes, only yesterday we were enemies in the sphere of foreign relations. To-day, however, the situation has changed and we are enemies no longer.

The art of politics in the sphere of foreign relations does not consist in increasing the number of enemies for one's country. On the contrary, the art of politics in this sphere is to reduce the number of such enemies and make the enemies of yesterday good neighbours, maintaining peaceable relations one with the other. [(Applause.)] History has shown that enmity and wars between our country and Germany have been to the detriment of our countries, not to their benefit.

The countries which suffered most of all in the war of 1914-18 were Russia and Germany. Therefore, the interests of the peoples of the Soviet Union and Germany do not lie in mutual enmity. On the contrary, the peoples of the Soviet Union and Germany stand in need of peaceable relations. The Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact puts an end to the enmity between Germany and the U.S.S.R. and this is in the interests of both countries. The fact that our outlooks and political systems differ must not and cannot be an obstacle to the establishment of good political relations between both States, just as like differences are no impediment to the good political relations which the U.S.S.R. maintains with other non-Soviet capitalist countries.

Only the enemies of Germany and the U.S.S.R. can strive to create and foment enmity between the peoples of these countries. We have always stood for amity between the peoples of the U.S.S.R. and Germany, and for the growth
and development of friendship between the peoples of the Soviet Union and the German people.[(Stormy, prolonged applause.)]

The chief importance of the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact lies in the fact that the two largest States of Europe have agreed to put an end to enmity between them, to eliminate the menace of war and to live at peace one with the other, making narrower thereby the zone of possible military conflicts in Europe.

Even if military conflicts in Europe should prove unavoidable the scope of hostilities will now be restricted. Only instigators of a general European war, only those who under the mask of pacifism would like to ignite a general conflagration in Europe, can be dissatisfied at this position of affairs.

The Soviet-German Pact has been the object of numerous attacks in the British, French, and American Press.

Particularly zealots in this respect have been certain "Socialist" journals—servitors of "their" national capitalism, servitors of those of their masters who pay them pretty well. [(Laughter in the hall.)] Naturally, one cannot expect the real truth from these gentlemen.

Attempts are being made to spread the fiction that the conclusion of the Soviet-German Pact disrupted negotiations with Britain and France for a mutual assistance pact. This lie has already been nailed in the interview given by Voroshilov. In reality, as you know, the very reverse is true. The Soviet Union signed the non-aggression pact with Germany, amongst other things, because negotiations with France and England had come to a deadlock owing to insuperable differences and had ended in failure through the fault of the ruling classes of Britain and France.

Further, they go so far as to blame us because the pact, if you please, contains no clause providing for its denunciation in case one of the signatories is drawn into war under conditions which might give someone or other the external pretext to qualify this particular country as an aggressor. But strange to say they forget that such a clause and such a reservation is not to be found either in the Polish-German non-aggression pact signed in 1934, and annulled by Germany in 1939 against the wishes of Poland, or in the Anglo-German declaration on non-aggression signed only a few months ago. The question arises: Why cannot the U.S.S.R. permit itself the same privilege as Poland and Britain allowed themselves long ago?

Finally, there are wiseacres who construe from the pact more than is written in it. [(Laughter.)] For this purpose all kinds of conjectures and hints are mooted in order to cast doubt on the pact in one or other country. But all this merely demonstrates the hopeless impotence of the enemies of the pact who are exposing themselves more and more as enemies of both the Soviet Union and Germany, striving to provoke war between these countries.

In all this we find fresh corroboration of Comrade Stalin's warning that we must be particularly cautious with warmongers who are accustomed to have other people pull their chestnuts out of the fire. We must be on our guard against those who see some advantage to themselves in bad relations between the U.S.S.R. and Germany, in enmity between them, and who do not want peace and good neighbourly relations to exist between Germany and the Soviet Union. We can understand why this policy is being pursued by out-and-out imperialists.

But we cannot pass over the fact that certain leaders of the Socialist parties of Britain and France have displayed quite exceptional zeal in this respect. And, indeed, so flustered. have these gentlemen become that they have gone the whole hog, and no mistake. [(Laughter.)] These people demand that the U.S.S.R. should without fail be drawn into the war on the side of Britain against Germany. Have these rabid warmongers completely taken leave of their senses? [(Laughter.)]

Is it really difficult for these gentlemen to understand the purpose of the Soviet-German non-aggression pact on the strength of which the U.S.S.R. is not obliged to involve itself in war either on the side of Great Britain against Germany or on the side of Germany against Great Britain?

Is it really difficult to comprehend that the U.S.S.R. is pursuing, and will continue to pursue, its own independent policy based on the interests of the peoples of the U.S.S.R., and only these interests? [(Prolonged applause.)] If these gentlemen have such an uncontrollable desire to fight, let them do their own fighting without the Soviet Union. [(Laughter. Applause)] We would see what fighting stuff they are made of. [(Laughter. Applause)]

In our eyes, in the eyes of the entire Soviet people, these are just as much enemies of peace as all the other instigators of war in Europe. Only those who desire a grand new slaughter, a new holocaust of nations, only they want to set the Soviet Union and. Germany at loggerheads; they are the only people who want to destroy the incipient restoration of good neighbourly relations between the peoples of the U.S.S.R. and Germany.

The Soviet Union signed the pact with Germany fully assured that peace between the peoples of the U.S.S.R. and Germany is in the interests of all peoples, in the interests of universal peace. Every sincere supporter of peace will realize the truth of this. This pact corresponds with the fundamental interests of the working people of the Soviet Union and cannot weaken our vigilance in defence of those interests. This pact is backed by firm confidence in our actual forces, in their complete preparedness to meet any aggression against the U.S.S.R. [(Stormy applause.)]

This pact (like the unsuccessful Anglo-French-Soviet negotiations) proves that no important questions of international relations, and still less questions in Eastern Europe, can be settled without the active participation of the Soviet Union; that any attempts to shut out the Soviet Union and decide such questions behind her back are doomed to failure. [(Applause.)]

The Soviet-German non-aggression pact spells a new turn in the development of Europe; a turn towards the improvement of relations between the two largest States of Europe. This pact not only eliminates the menace of war with Germany, narrows down the zone of possible hostilities in Europe, and serves thereby the cause of universal peace; it must open to us new possibilities of increasing our strength, further consolidation of our positions, and the further growth of the influence of the Soviet Union on international developments.

There is no need to dwell here on the separate clauses of the pact. The Council of Peoples' Commissars has reason to hope that the pact will meet with your approval as a document of cardinal importance to the U.S.S.R. [(Applause.)] The Council of Peoples' Commissars submits the Soviet-German non-aggression pact to the Supreme Soviet and proposes that it be ratified. [(Stormy prolonged applause. Everybody rise.)]
Source: SOVIET PEACE POLICY. Four Speeches by V. MOLOTOV, with a Foreword by D. N. PRITT, K.C., M.P. Published for THE ANGLO-RUSSIAN NEWS BULLETIN by LAWRENCE & WIS HART LTD. London. First published 1941. Printed in Great Britain by Western Printing Services Ltd., Bristol.

User avatar
wm
Member
Posts: 4774
Joined: 29 Dec 2006 20:11
Location: Poland

Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 09 May 2019 09:19

Well, that's mostly propaganda for the Soviet people.
And it's its Mark 1 version: "in the interests of universal peace," "we are enemies no longer."
Later according to Mark 2 it would be: to delay the inevitable war.

And he contradicts himself by saying the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact was much more beneficial for the USSR - but still he wasted so much time negotiating a substantially inferior pact with the Allies (warmongers trying to draw the USSR into the war on the side of Britain against Germany, accustomed to have others pull chestnuts out of the fire for them.)

He inadvertently betrays the origin of the myth that Poland that was responsible for the failure - "attempts are being made to spread the fiction that the conclusion of the Soviet-German Pact disrupted negotiations with Britain and France for a mutual assistance pact."

But it was true. The Polish objection was raised on August 15th, but Ribbentrop was invited to Moscow three days earlier.
And the pact was ready to sign on August 19th, so the decision to sign had to be made around August 15th.
The fact they didn't care to wait for the (actually positive!) response to the objection proves that.

It was just delaying tactics similarly to "the British military mission arrived in Moscow without any mandate at all", so let's wait for the mandate - as if the negotiators could have been imposters.

User avatar
henryk
Member
Posts: 2263
Joined: 27 Jan 2004 01:11
Location: London, Ontario

Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by henryk » 09 May 2019 19:53

wm wrote:
09 May 2019 09:19
Well, that's mostly propaganda for the Soviet people.
And it's its Mark 1 version: "in the interests of universal peace," "we are enemies no longer."
Later according to Mark 2 it would be: to delay the inevitable war.

...........................................................................................................................................
It was just delaying tactics similarly to "the British military mission arrived in Moscow without any mandate at all", so let's wait for the mandate - as if the negotiators could have been imposters.

Yes it is propaganda, but the key information that the British were not really negotiating with the USSR is well known.
http://acienciala.faculty.ku.edu/hist557/lect16.htm
Aside from the many secret indications of Soviet interest in a political agreement with Germany, there were also "leaks" of British and Franco-British proposals to Moscow. These documents were passed to the Soviet Embassy in London, which sent them on to the German Embassy there, which in turn telegraphed them immediately to Berlin. The documents were provided by a Soviet mole in the Foreign Office Code Room,Ret. Captain John - or John Herbert - King, an Irishman who hated the English and needed money. * This procedure of informing the Germans of British proposals indicates Soviet pressure on Berlin to come to an agreement with Moscow. At the same time, of course, it meant that Molotov always had advance notice of what the British ambassador, or the latter together with the French ambassador, was going to tell him.

*[See: Donald Cameron Watt, "Francis Herbert King. A Soviet Source in the Foreign Office," Intelligence and National Security, vol. III, no. 4., London, 1988, pp. 62-82. He is elsewhere named: John Herbert King].

We should also keep in mind that five highly placed British civil servants were Soviet "moles" in the British establishment. Among them was Kim Phliby, who was to become the head of British military intelligence, the MI5.

The British govt., for its part - especially Prime Minister Chamberlain --, was pursuing a policy of covert appeasment, and Stalin may well have known about it. In fact, there were some secret Anglo-German talks. These were leaked to the British press, where a report appeared on July 22, 1939. Chamberlain’s closest adviser at this time, Sir Horace Wilson, actually proposed to the Germans in early August that Britain and Germany conclude a non-aggression pact, after which Britain would drop her guarantees to Poland, Romania and Greece. (He may have done so in July, but no British document on this has survived.) However, Hitler sent no answer until he knew he would have a pact with the Soviets. He then insisted on having his demands on Poland met first, and only then entering into negotiations with Britain for a general settlement.

In early August, a Franco-British military delegation - or rather two delegations which worked together - set out for Leningrad (formerly and now again Petersburg) on a slow merchant ship.* This, plus the lack of a prominent British military or political figure with full powers, was criticized at the time and since as indicating a British lack of interest in the Soviet alliance. General Ironside, Inspector General of British armed forces, would have been the logical senior military figure to send, but he was ineligible because he had commanded British and Polish troops in northern Russia against the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War (1918-21). The French delegation (France was already allied with the USSR in 1935) had full powers to negotiate, but the British did not.The British lack of full powers was due to the British government's assumption that a military alliance would be concluded when agreement was reached on the issue of "indirect aggression" (Soviet demands reg. Baltic States), or, if possible, that both be reached at the same time. Thus, Foreign Secretary Halifax could not have gone to Moscow without some basic agreement being reached first, but this was not the case. (When Ribbentrop went to Moscow later, basic agreement had been reached and only the details had to be worked out).

*(The slow travel by ship, which is often criticized as foot dragging by the British and French,was due to the fact that the joint delegation could not travel by the most direct route to Russia, that is, through Germany (then Poland), while sending the delegation on a warship was considered "provocative" to Germany. Finally, the British navy only had two Sunderland Flying Boats at the time, and did not want to put them at risk.)

It can be argued that the British and French leaders were not really eager to undertake military obligations to the USSR. Indeed, they aimed above all at an alliance and military convention with Moscow in order to deter Hitler from attacking Poland and setting off a possible European war. However, these considerations are immaterial because in early August Molotov had already told the German Ambassador in Moscow that the Soviet government insisted on the conclusion of a political agreement, and, by the time the the Franco-British-Soviet talks began on August 12, Stalin knew that Hitler was willing to conclude an agreement with Moscow which recognized Soviet interests in East Central Europe, particularly in Poland.
Also: The Polish "sickness" and Franco-Soviet relations, 1934-1939
http://summit.sfu.ca/item/7403
103 General A. Beaufre, 1940: The Fall of France trans. D. Flower (New York, Knopf, 1968, p, 90
Beaufre notes that while the British instructions were "about an inch thick", they "examined every facet of the problem (Polish-Soviet military cooperation) without producing any ideas as to directive." See Beaufre, 1940. p. 96.
104 Roberts, The Unholy Alliance. p.141. // The British delegation was instructed "above all to spin out the negotiations as long as they could." Beaufre, 1940, pp. 96-97.

User avatar
Steve
Member
Posts: 636
Joined: 03 Aug 2002 01:58
Location: United Kingdom

Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by Steve » 10 May 2019 00:17

WM says “Although the Soviets never asked Poland for anything. Never proposed any agreement or an alliance. Beck was actually willing but nobody invited him, nor the Soviets, nor the French.”

I just do not see how it can be said that Beck was willing to talk about an alliance but nobody invited him. He says that they have reservations about extending existing accords. That the French government cannot talk on behalf of Poland and only direct talks could settle relations but then does not instruct the ambassador to ask for direct talks which could easily have been done. Poland has a policy of non aggression towards its neighbours which implies that Beck did not believe that war with Germany was now on the horizon. A mutual assistance agreement with the USSR could not be reciprocal. This presumably means that if a treaty was signed and then the USSR was at war with say Finland Poland would not help. The Poles are standing aside from the UK, France, USSR negotiations. No mention of wanting to join the negotiations or of being excluded they are standing aside. Beck thought that an agreement with the USSR made war certain but obviously did not think an agreement with the British did.

I enjoyed reading Molotov’s speech. A lot of what he said about the negotiations with the British and French was true. Of course he never said what the Soviets were asking in return for signing an agreement. The part on signing the agreement with Germany was hilarious.

The claim that a non aggression pact was proposed to Hitler in August and in return Britain would drop its guarantee to Poland, Rumania and Greece I find unbelievable. Such a proposal once made public would have led to the immediate fall of the Chamberlain government. On what is this claim based?

User avatar
wm
Member
Posts: 4774
Joined: 29 Dec 2006 20:11
Location: Poland

Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 11 May 2019 10:18

The "not be reciprocal" means the Soviets had lots to offer, but the Poles nothing.
The Soviets: the lives of millions of their soldiers, enormous resources - risking the very existence of their country in the process.
The Poles: nothing, the USSR wasn't threatened by Germany. And anyway the Polish military capabilities weren't especially great, the Soviets didn't need such a weak ally at all.

The French actually didn't have anything valuable to offer either - they weren't prepared for the war at all, needed years to be ready.
The French offered nothing for Soviet help but demanded a lot, up to the destruction of Russia at the hands of the Germans.
So a mutual assistance agreement between France and the USSR could not be reciprocal either.
Soviet bases in Poland couldn't change that.
When in fact the Germans offered the Soviets a lot, basically for nothing.

Return to “Poland 1919-1945”