How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 11 May 2019 10:21

Beck was asking pretty please all the time, "the indecency of the Soviets discussing our affairs with France and England without turning to us" "it was unacceptable that these states should be debating about the military use of the territory of another sovereign state" and similar numerous statements are the way diplomats do it.

Poland wasn't a pendrive easy to forgot at home. France and the USSR were well aware of Poland's existence.
But they were great powers and Poland was a small fry. The small fry wasn't needed and wasn't invited - translating from the diplomatic language - it was "get lost."

Beck couldn't ask directly without humiliating his country, without embarrassing the other side. So he was asking indirectly and nicely.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 16 May 2019 17:54

More:
13 May.
Circular note of the Minister of Foreign Affairs on negotiations with the USSR

[...]
Western states' ongoing demands for a Soviet declaration of assistance to Poland are voiced entirely without Polish participation. This has led on the part of the Soviets to a desire to gauge our opinion during the Molotov-Grzybowski and Potyomkin talks in Warsaw.
As a result of these talks, it was clarified that the Soviet government is showing understanding toward our arguments in the matter of Polish-Soviet relations, which are presently evolving in an entirely correct manner.
The Soviets are aware that the Polish government will not join any arrangement with either of its great neighbours directed against the other and understand the benefits that the Polish stance entails for them.

Beck
15 May.
Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Embassy in London on Poland's position towards negotiations with the USSR

[...]
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.
[...]
All our arguments are known to the Soviets, who are showing understanding for them, as has been confirmed in my discussions with Potyomkin. [...]
BECK

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by Steve » 17 May 2019 18:57

Hello, the Molotov Grzybowski talks are presumably the ones in Moscow on May 11 while the Potyomkin talks are presumably the ones in Warsaw on May 10.

On May 10 Molotov had cabled Potyomkin in Warsaw to talk to Beck saying “The Main question for us to know is how in Poland matters stand with Germany. You may hint that if Poland wishes, the USSR can give them support”. Potyomkin cabled back the same day after meeting Beck saying that Beck had acknowledged that Poland could not hold out against Germany without Soviet support and “for my part I emphasized that the USSR would not refuse support to Poland if it so desired”.

Molotov said about his May 11 talks with Gryzbowski that “All the conversation attested to the fact that Poland does not want in the given circumstances to tie itself to any agreement with the USSR or to any agreement on the participation of the USSR in a guarantee of Poland…”

My source used the official Soviet diplomatic papers from God Krizisa 1 which may not be available in English.

So there we have it and surely definitively that the Poles knew of the talks were talking about the talks but did not want to be in the talks.

It is surprising that Beck acknowledged Poland could not hold out without the USSR. It appears that the Polish leadership would rather be defeated and occupied by Germany than accept help from the USSR. On March 31 Britain and France had agreed to support Poland in the event of German aggression. Did Beck think that it was now immaterial whether he admitted Poland could not hold out without the USSR because war with Germany was unlikely?

An agreement with the USSR was out of the question for understandable reasons one of them being Germany would view it as a provocation. Beck was well aware that signing the agreement with Britain could also be viewed by Hitler as a provocation. Lipski was told to tell the German leadership that the agreement was of a defensive character. When in London on April 3 Beck considered meeting the German ambassador to reassure him but the ambassador was not in London. On returning to Warsaw Beck met the German ambassador to tell him that the agreement was non-belligerent. Lipski was now told to say that the agreement was similar to the one Poland already had with France. On April 6 Marshal Rydz told the diplomat Jan Szembek that he believed Germany was not prepared for war and that Beck’s actions would not lead to a military conflict. The Polish leadership had miscalculated.

If the Poles had accepted Soviet aid in 1939 war may have been avoided. If the Poles had accepted Hitler’s offer war would have been avoided in 1939. If the Poles had not entered into an agreement with the UK war may have been avoided in 1939. If Hitler had accepted the status quo war would also have been avoided but after raising the issue could he have climbed down since on this issue Germany was united.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 17 May 2019 23:45

Steve wrote:
17 May 2019 18:57
So there we have it and surely definitively that the Poles knew of the talks were talking about the talks but did not want to be in the talks.
Well, I suppose such an allegation should be supported by hard evidence, not by mere guessing.

Beck instructed Polish ambassadors that the official position during talks with representatives of foreign governments was:
" it was unacceptable that these states should be debating about the military use of the territory of another sovereign state",
"Western states' ongoing demands for a Soviet declaration of assistance to Poland are voiced entirely without Polish participation,"
"[we] have reservations, in keeping with the principle 'nothing about us without us', about the settlement of Polish affairs during those negotiations"
He couldn't do more without offending Bonnet.


The French Commander-in-chief Gamelin himself deplored the deviousness of Bonnet:
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.
And another fact: Bonnet simultaneously pursued the alliance with the USSR and projects for further appeasement in eastern Europe.
He simultaneously tried to sell Poland to Hitler and to Stalin.

At the same time, he refused to sign the already prepared Franco-Polish political accord, an accord that was going "to 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."
It's hardly believable that a man who refused to negotiate and cooperate with Poland wanted her participation in his other talks.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 19 May 2019 10:08

The "nothing about us without us" principle:
Cable from the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Ambassador in London about Soviet assistance
Warsaw, 9 June 1939
Cipher cable No. 143.
In connection with Strang's departure for Moscow, please declare at the Foreign Office that we have learned through Paris the substance of the Soviet answer to the last proposal and that our position remains unchanged, namely:

I. We cannot agree that Poland be mentioned in the agreement concluded between the Western Powers and the USSR.

II. The principle of Soviet assistance being granted to an attacked state even without the latter's agreement [i.e. the right to a direct Soviet military intervention on the territory of all Eastern European countries] we find unacceptable in relation to Poland and, in relation to other states, as a dangerous breach of the stability and security of Eastern Europe.
The definition of the scope of Soviet assistance is, in our opinion, only possible by means of negotiations between the attacked state and the USSR.
[...]

Sent to London, c/c to Paris and Moscow.
ISBN 978-83-89607-72-0. Polish Documents on Foreign Policy. 24 October 1938 – 30 September 1939
Beck

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 19 May 2019 10:26

Soviet political goals according to George Kennan (1935):
Ordinary diplomatic relations, as they have existed in modern times, have been universally regarded as the means of intercourse between friendly nations. Their foundation, regardless of conflicts of interest, has been at least a lip service to sentiments of friendliness and to the principle of live-and-let-live.

Intercourse between open enemies, on the other hand, has generally been carried on by a different type of negotiator, under the shadow of a white flag and has received a different name. The peculiarity of Soviet diplomacy, [...] is that it is openly regarded in Moscow as the intercourse between enemies.

The masters of the Kremlin are revolutionary communists, whose views on government are admittedly not confined to Russia. They profess to believe that every other country in the world [...] is governed by unjust exploiters, and that they themselves, as leaders of a world proletariat which know no geographic boundaries, are directly concerned by this situation.
They cannot view this exploitation with indifference, despite the fact that it takes place outside the boundaries of that territory where they are privileged to rule. It lies on their consciences, and they do not hesitate to express their disapproval of it, their enmity to its bearers:
the bourgeois governments, their satisfaction at every defeat which these latter may suffer, their bitterness at every success which they gain, their determination at some future date to overthrow them and - as members of the world proletariat - to take their places.
In theory, their political aims are not national but universal, and have nothing whatsoever to do with friendly sentiments or with the principle of live-and-let-live.
The War Problem of the Soviet Union by George F. Kennan

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by Steve » 20 May 2019 18:39

The following places wm,s post regarding the French Polish discussions in mid May 1939 in the context of what was being discussed between the British and French at almost the same time.

On May 3 Anglo French staff talks took place and what came out of them was discussed by the British cabinet on May 24. The report was presented by Lord Chatfield and what he said was classified as Most Secret and not included in the minutes of the meeting that were circulated.

The French intention in the event of a war between Germany and Poland was to stand on the defensive on the Maginot line ….. The British Chiefs of Staff were considerably disturbed at the prospect of complete inaction on the part of the French and the consequent failure to exploit the two front war …. If the French were going to do nothing to draw off the weight of a German attack on Poland, the assistance of Russia would be of great value to the latter.

General Gamelin was head of the French General Staff in 1939. The idea that he did not know what had been discussed at the May 3 Anglo French staff talks when talking to the Poles a couple of weeks later is impossible to believe.

It seems that Gamelin lied to the Poles throughout the meeting and was crying crocodile tears about the agreement not being ratified.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by Steve » 20 May 2019 20:10

The Poles may have found the idea of Soviet assistance that was not asked for unacceptable but it was not the same with the British and French. Chamberlain thought the three allies should consult and agree before an unresisting state was defended from aggression. Foreign Secretary Halifax thought that Russia might think such a suggestion a reason for inaction.

During the war the British gave “assistance” to several countries without their agreement. There was Norway in April 1940, Iceland in May 1940 and Iran in August 1941.

Chamberlain’s dislike of communism made an alliance with Russia difficult. Military advice was given about the usefulness of an alliance.

On May 10 the British embassy in Moscow described the Russian army as “greatly weakened by purges, of small offensive value, but expected to show good defensive qualities.” Russian air strength was considered poor. A British Chiefs of Staff report was made on March 18. The report assessed the Russian army at 130 division but only 30 divisions could be maintained in the field. There were 100 hundred infantry divisions and 30 cavalry divisions, largely horsed but comprising 9,000 tanks of high quality. Russian artillery fire power was low and communications by road and rail in a deplorable condition. Russia would be unable to switch to manufacture the type of armaments needed by Poland and Rumania.

The summary said:-

The Russian Navy would contain considerable German Naval forces in the Baltic and be an added deterrent to Japan in the Far East.

The Russian Army would not be in a position to afford material support to Poland, would not be able to maintain a military effort of material size in Rumania or Turkey. Is likely to resist a German advance through the Balkan states and would contain substantial German forces in the East in the event of Poland and Rumania being overrun.

The Russian Air Force could produce a limited threat to Germany and Italy if allowed to operate from neighbouring countries, could contain more German air defence units in the east, could be of some assistance in strengthening the air defences of Poland.

A dislike of communism and not rating the Soviet armed forces highly helps explain why the British were so luke warm on an alliance.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by SloveneLiberal » 15 Aug 2019 19:51

Polish governament at that time was in my opinion making very big mistakes. It was completly clear when just after Muenchen agreement about Sudetenland Hitler which promised that was all what he wanted demanded the rest of Czechoslovakia and Danzing. Even Chamberlain then understood that war will soon start and Hitler can not be trusted. But still after this polish governament took part in the partition of Czechoslovakia. Maybe before Muenchen one would understand that they were competing with Germany over the influence of Slovakia but after it they should know what is going to happen.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 15 Aug 2019 21:13

The Poles didn't make any mistakes. In fact, it was a huge win for the government.

The Czechs were hostile towards Poland from day one and to the very end.
In 1921 they attacked Poland when she was facing destruction, and annexed Polish territories. They blocked weapons deliveries to Poland, they stopped the Hungarian Army from helping the Poles.
Later the refused all Polish offers of a defensive alliance.

Actually, Britain and France handed back the annexed by the Czechs territory to Poland during the Munich Conference.
See: Munich Pact : Declaration, Munich Pact : Supplementary Declaration, Vienna Diktat.

The Poles could have only been charged with impatient behavior and not following the rules laid down in Munich.

It would be an ugly hill to die on anyway - to denied the Sudeten Germans their right of self-determination, another "assassination at Sarajevo" kind of thing.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by SloveneLiberal » 15 Aug 2019 21:37

Well the right for self determination is even today not always automatic. Look for example at Catalonia case etc. Right for autonomy is in Europe now respected but right to self- determination not. Churchill warned that ''self determination'' for Germans in Sudetenland would in fact mean that Czechoslovakia will lose much of its natural defense and important industry. And would just become a very easy target. As it really happened.

I do not really think it would be a success for Poland to follow Hitler in partition of Czechoslovakia when it was already clear that Hitler will not respect Muenchen agreement and was targeting already the rest of Czechoslovakia and Poland too,

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 15 Aug 2019 22:36

Poland was trying to form a defensive coalition with Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, but hostile Czechoslovakia stood in the way.
As long as it existed Poland lacked common border with her friends. So it had to go.

Well, it's actually quite strange - the Czechs were unwilling to die for themselves, the British and the French were unwilling to die for them, but the Poles should have.

The right to self-determination isn't recognized by anybody even today.
But millions of naive people believed in it then and their naivety enabled the Munich Agreement.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 15 Aug 2019 22:41

Hitler decided to play hardball with Poland in April 1939 and he decided to attack Poland a month before the ww2.
In 1938 even Hitler didn't know what would happen in 1939. Actually, his plan was to get buddy-buddy with Poland because he wanted to play hardball with France.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by SloveneLiberal » 16 Aug 2019 06:52

Not in April 1939 already in 1938 just after Muenchen agreement Hitler made it clear his next goals are the rest of Czechoslovakia and Poland ( Danzing ). Ribbentrop presented Lipski with this demand.

One should also take into the account military aspects. When Czechoslovakia was destroyed German military was able to attack Poland from the south. Which in fact happened in September 1939. Also Slovakia participated in this.

Well i guess the right for self-determination depends much on the constitution of one country. For example Slovenia has this right written in Yugoslav constitution because already Slovenian Liberation Front during the WW2 made a program that it is fighting national revolution to gain to Slovene nation all its national rights including right for self-determination which it did not have in kingdom of Yugoslavia or before under Austria. Than it is another thing that also other countries are ready to recognize new independent state. For example Greece did not want to recognize Macedonia until recently when an agreement was reached about the name of new country. Because like the name was meaning an iredentist threat to Greece. But generaly talking if you have big powers on your side that will support your will for self-determination than you are on good path.

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Re: How Poland Conspired to Breakup Czechoslovakia

Post by wm » 16 Aug 2019 08:55

SloveneLiberal wrote:
16 Aug 2019 06:52
Not in April 1939 already in 1938 just after Muenchen agreement Hitler made it clear his next goals are the rest of Czechoslovakia and Poland ( Danzing ). Ribbentrop presented Lipski with this demand.
Actually, it wasn't a demand but a proposal for a basic settlement of issues between Poland and Germany, which would remove the causes of future strife.
It was accompanied by generous German concessions, and they honestly believed they were generous, Goebbels in his diary at the end of March 1939:

He’s going to try out a little pressure on the Poles and he hopes they’ll respond to that.
But we’re going to have to swallow the bitter pill and guarantee Poland’s other frontiers.


And Polish diplomats believed in it too (that the Germans honestly believed.) Almost to the end Hitler solemnly swore he was only interested in a peaceful settlement and didn't try to force the issue.

SloveneLiberal wrote:
16 Aug 2019 06:52
One should also take into the account military aspects. When Czechoslovakia was destroyed German military was able to attack Poland from the south. Which in fact happened in September 1939. Also Slovakia participated in this.
Military aspects were beyond Polish control.
Poland made her move after the Czechs surrendered to Hitler's demands, handed over almost 40 percent of their territory (in comparison Poland gained just above 1 percent), ceased to be a viable military power, became defenseless against Germany.

After Munich Polish borders with Germany changed just by a few kilometers and were more advantageous to Poland. And actually, Czecho-Slovakia existed just fine - although powerless.

Which didn't matter because the Poles were perfectly aware they weren't able to defend against Germany for more than a few months, better borders couldn't change that - at all.

After Munich, Poland tried to arrange an alliance with the friendly Slovakia - but the Germans sabotaged Polish efforts.

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