De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Discussions on all aspects of Poland during the Second Polish Republic and the Second World War. Hosted by Peter K
Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9176
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by Sid Guttridge » 06 May 2021 06:07

Hi wm,

You will be glad to hear that I have read the whole thread.

By contrast you, in asking "What Guarantee?", clearly haven't been doing your own reading sufficiently.

Furthermore, nowhere on this thread does it previously mention "Poland had to pay billions of francs."

I am therefore asking, "Please tell us more....."

Are you going to, or not?

Cheers,

Sid

User avatar
wm
Member
Posts: 6219
Joined: 29 Dec 2006 20:11
Location: Poland

Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by wm » 06 May 2021 07:24

Then please answer the question "what guarantee" for the simple reason I asked first.

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9176
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by Sid Guttridge » 06 May 2021 08:41

Hi wm,

13 April 1939:

"THE French Government, moreover, derives great satisfaction from the conclusion of the reciprocal undertakings between Great Britain and Poland, who have decided to give each other mutual support in defence of their independence in the event of either being threatened directly or indirectly.
The Franco-Polish alliance is, moreover, confirmed in the same spirit by the French Government and the Polish Government. France and Poland guarantee each other immediate and direct aid against any threat direct or indirect, which might aim a blow at their vital interests.
Today this declaration is being communicated by our Ambassadors to all Governments interested, and in particular to Turkey.
"

Cheers,

Sid.

gebhk
Member
Posts: 1594
Joined: 25 Feb 2013 20:23

Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by gebhk » 06 May 2021 18:19

France fought because Poland was attacked.
France fought because the alliance was attacked. There is a difference. Otherwise you are saying that France fought out of benevolence for Poland albeit in different words and you claim not to be saying that. You can't have it both ways.
I am not sure how true that might have turned out to be. Czechoslovakia did a similar deal and was wiped off the map. You may be placing a little too much trust in Hitler's good faith.
I am placing no faith in Hitler whatsoever. The fate of Czechoslovakia was to end up in exactly the same boat as Poland - a vassal state of the USSR - but at a fraction of the cost. My point exactly.
Are you suggesting that, rather than accept the Anglo-French Guarantees, Poland should have cut a deal with Germany? That 50 million lives might have been saved had Poland only adopted appeasement as its foreign policy?
Since the entire population of Poland was 35 million or thereabouts I don't see where the 50 million comes into it. The point is that had Poland cut a deal with Germany rather than joining an alliance against her and her fate mirrored that of Czechoslovakia, the cost of WW2 to Poland would most likely have been a lot lower.
"
The fact that the French and to a lesser extent the British failed to make best use of the time and experience won for the allied cause by Poland's sacrifice is hardly the fault of the Poles." True, but nobody is suggesting that it was.
With respect but the continued references to the French sacrifice on behalf of Poland while Poland only fought because she was attacked are hard to miss. Let's not play games.
And who is blaming the Poles here? The thread is about the Poles blaming the French, surely?
I presume you are as I can't otherwise account for this statement of yours:
I presume Poland is meant to be the shield in this analogy? If so, it was spectacularly ineffectual.
And no, self evidently the thread is not about the Poles blaming the French, which a perusal of title and the first entry makes very clear. It is about the thoughts of Charles de Gaulle on the matter.
I would suggest that Poland essentially fought because it was attacked.
As did France - which is the point that aggrieved Poles are making.
France that was slow out of the starting blocks and ended up paying a heavy price for its Polish alliance.
And the Poles paid a far higher price for their French alliance because France was slow out of her starting blocks (or indeed never left them). Unless you are suggesting that if it weren't for Poland, France and Nazi Germany would have got on famously and Germany would have been no threat to France. I hope not.

In short, three guys decide that a local bully must be stopped and agree that if he attacks one of them, they will join forces to defeat him. The bully (brings two mates with him, ooops), and attacks the weakest guy, beats him to a pulp and takes all his stuff and shares it with his mates. The other guys send a stern letter saying 'that's it, you've done it now, we're coming to get you' then stand around twiddling their thumbs, look embarrassed and think of lots of excuses some good, some not so much. They think about throwing some rocks at the bully, but decide against it because he might throw something big back that will really hurt them. In the end they throw a few pebbles at the bully's car hoping it will slow him down when he comes to get them and throw some leaflets telling him he is a very naughty boy (taking care not to upset his mates). After the event, the two guys pretend it never happened (they hadn't signed anything binding on paper after all) and if it did it was the smallest guy's fault that they couldn't help him. He naturally feels aggrieved and betrayed and disinclined to listen to reasons why help could not be rendered, even the good ones. All very natural, all very human and a good reason why anthropomorphising countries and politics does not lead to useful debate.

That being said, none of this is remotely relevant to the topic in hand - which is what the opinions of one Charles de Gaulle were on the subject and not those of Chris, Sid, wm or Michael......
Last edited by gebhk on 06 May 2021 20:14, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
wm
Member
Posts: 6219
Joined: 29 Dec 2006 20:11
Location: Poland

Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by wm » 06 May 2021 19:57

Sid Guttridge wrote:
06 May 2021 08:41
The Franco-Polish alliance is, moreover, confirmed in the same spirit by the French Government and the Polish Government. France and Poland guarantee each other immediate and direct aid against any threat direct or indirect, which might aim a blow at their vital interests.
[/i]"
So the guarantee was the old and tired Franco-Polish Alliance (1921). Too bad no guarantee could be found there.
It merely said:
...
If Germany attacks one of the two countries, they are bound to afford assistance to each other following an agreement between them.
...
French help to Poland will consist of sending to Poland war equipment and a technical mission, but not French troops, and securing the lines of sea communication between France and Poland.
Secret Military Convention was also concluded between France and Poland, on February 21,1921
interestingly a separatist peace with Germany wasn't forbidden. No valid agreement ever happened before the war.
Even "better" it was "improved" four years later by inserting a mandatory arbitration clause.
In the event of Poland or France suffering from a failure to observe undertakings arrived at this day between them and Germany, with a view to the maintenance of general peace, France and, reciprocally, Poland, acting in application of Article 16 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, undertake to lend each other immediate aid and assistance, if such a failure is accompanied by an unprovoked recourse to arms.

In the event of the Council of the League of Nations, when dealing with a question brought before it in accordance with the said undertakings, being unable to succeed in securing the acceptance of its report by all its members other than the representatives of the parties to the dispute, and in the event of Poland or France being attacked without provocation, France, or reciprocally Poland, acting in application of Article 15, paragraph 7, of the Covenant of the League of Nations, will immediately lend aid and assistance.
Treaty of Locarno Between France and Poland, on October 16, 1925
So France could have asked the League for mediation and then (as it happened to Abyssinia) wait till Poland expired.
Of course, buyer beware, better this than nothing but it wasn't much more than nothing.

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9176
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by Sid Guttridge » 07 May 2021 08:27

Hi wm,

Well, if a French Government statement taken directly from its Yellow Book saying, "France and Poland guarantee each other immediate and direct aid against any threat direct or indirect, which might aim a blow at their vital interests", indicates "....no guarantee could be found there", then one has to stand in awe at the incredibly high standards of evidence you are demanding! My respect, Sir!

Germany had already left the League of Nations, so it was not a viable platform for resolving disputes with it or any other non-signatory.

Cheers,

Sid.

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9176
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by Sid Guttridge » 07 May 2021 09:00

Hi gebhk,

You post, "France fought because the alliance was attacked." Yup. And which bit of the alliance was attacked? I would venture to suggest that this might just possibly have been Poland.

Or are you suggesting that France would have been at war with Germany in 1939, had Poland not been attacked?

You post, "The fate of Czechoslovakia was to end up in exactly the same boat as Poland - a vassal state of the USSR - but at a fraction of the cost. My point exactly." I am not sure what your point here is exactly. That WWII and all its attendant casualties could have been avoided if everyone had had the foresight to see its course and outcome and just let the Soviet Union peaceably occupy Eastern Europe in September 1939?

You post, "The point is that had Poland cut a deal with Germany rather than joining an alliance against her and her fate mirrored that of Czechoslovakia, the cost of WW2 to Poland would most likely have been a lot lower." So, in this scenario, if Poland had only been more concessive to Germany, not only its own misery but everyone else's misery could have been avoided? I had never previously considered blaming the Poles for WWII. This opens up a whole new historical vista for me, though not one I see reason to seriously entertain.

You post, "With respect but the continued references to the French sacrifice on behalf of Poland while Poland only fought because she was attacked are hard to miss. Let's not play games." I think you need to read the quote you put up from me again. In it I talk of "Poland's sacrifice". Indeed, I rather thought it was in support of the Poles and not at all illustrative of your wider point about the lack of French sacrifice on behalf of Poland..

You object to, "I presume Poland is meant to be the shield in this analogy? If so, it was spectacularly ineffectual." So, what did Poland shield effectually? Certainly not itself, and if it couldn't shield itself effectually, it certainly couldn't shield anyone else. Poland provided France with a diversion, not a shield. This is not to blame the Poles, but to tell it like it was.

You post, ".....self evidently the thread is not about the Poles blaming the French....." Well, there is no question mark about the word "betrayal" in the title, is there? It assumes betrayal on the part of the French unquestioningly. "French betrayal" is a point for debate, not an established fact. The French carried on the war after the rapid destruction of Poland with disastrous consequences for themselves. This does not look like betrayal to me. (I used to complain here regularly about such thread titles containing unestablished facts without a question mark, but not once did the moderators modify a thread title to include one.)

You suggest that France, like Poland, essentially fought because it was attacked. I must have missed something here. When was this attack on France?

Cheers,

Sid.

User avatar
wm
Member
Posts: 6219
Joined: 29 Dec 2006 20:11
Location: Poland

Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by wm » 07 May 2021 09:49

Sid Guttridge wrote:
07 May 2021 08:27
then one has to stand in awe at the incredibly high standards of evidence you are demanding! My respect, Sir!
The British guarantee was formalized in writing, it was a formal agreement with Poland. What you have there is a media statement - nice but without real-world consequences.
And it was:
The Franco-Polish alliance ... guarantee(s) each other , i.e., it was based on the same nebulous assistance promised in the Secret Military Convention.

Sid Guttridge wrote:
07 May 2021 08:27
Germany had already left the League of Nations, so it was not a viable platform for resolving disputes with it or any other non-signatory.
For the procedure described in the Treaty of Locarno it didn't matter if the aggressor was a signatory. It was all about what we are going to do for the poor Poland if anything.
And it was a real one - in 1938 the French foreign minister seriously planned to use that trap door to escape the commitments.

User avatar
wm
Member
Posts: 6219
Joined: 29 Dec 2006 20:11
Location: Poland

Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by wm » 07 May 2021 10:56

Sid Guttridge wrote:
07 May 2021 09:00
Or are you suggesting that France would have been at war with Germany in 1939, had Poland not been attacked?
I thought that I would first turn against the West in a few years, and only after that against the East.
I wanted first of all to establish a tolerable relationship with Poland in order to fight first against the West. But this plan, which appealed to me, could not be executed, as fundamental points had changed. It became clear to me that, in the event of a conflict with the West, Poland would attack us.

Adolf Hitler [1939]

To carry out this policy [to make Germany great]... we must stop at no sacrifice in our effort to destroy the French ...
no sacrifice should be considered too heavy, if the final outcome would be to make it possible for us to overthrow our bitterest enemy
.
Adolf Hitler [1925]

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9176
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by Sid Guttridge » 07 May 2021 12:09

Hi wm,

All true, but France wasn't at the top of Hitler's shopping list in 1939. Poland was.

Cheers,

Sid

User avatar
wm
Member
Posts: 6219
Joined: 29 Dec 2006 20:11
Location: Poland

Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by wm » 07 May 2021 15:46

No, France was at the top all the time.
To make Germany great Hitler had to permanently subdue France, politically or militarily. He wrote that himself in Mein Kampf.
France was the only serious obstacle on the road to greatness.
The army he built was way too large for Czechia, Lithuania, Poland - it was for the bitterest enemy, France.

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9176
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by Sid Guttridge » 07 May 2021 19:57

Hi wm,

Hitler worked sequentially. Austria was first, followed by Czechoslovakia, Lithuania and Poland.

Hitler attacked Poland in 1939. He did not attack France. It was France that declared war on him in support of Poland. He did not declare war first on France.

There was no betrayal of Poland by France.

There WAS, however, a betrayal of Poland by Germany. Germany had a non-Aggression pact with Poland with five years left to run in 1939.

Cheers,

Sid.

User avatar
wm
Member
Posts: 6219
Joined: 29 Dec 2006 20:11
Location: Poland

Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by wm » 08 May 2021 10:56

Hitler says: Poland betrayed Germany and invalidated the pact by signing an anti-German alliance with Britain.

User avatar
wm
Member
Posts: 6219
Joined: 29 Dec 2006 20:11
Location: Poland

Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by wm » 08 May 2021 10:57

France offered Poland a weak alliance and nothing was wrong with it. Offering weak, toothless alliances wasn't a crime.
But the alliance contained this:
If Germany attacks one of the two countries, they are bound to afford assistance to each other following an agreement between them.
So in 1939, at the enemy-at-the-gates moment, the agreement was signed. it wasn't toothless by any stretch of the imagination, actually, it contained a full set of sharp teeth, everything was precisely defined there - where, when and how.

But it was signed in bad faith by the French, they weren't going to honour any of its obligations - from the moment the ink dried on the document.
Their only goal was to make sure the Poles would resist and sacrifice themselves, giving France time to complete their preparations.
To use the Poles as a human shield protecting their military and political designs - without asking the Poles if they liked it first.
That was the betrayal.

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9176
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by Sid Guttridge » 08 May 2021 12:21

Hi wm,

Read the text. Hitler couldn't legally get out of the non-aggression pact until ten years after its signature. Only then could it be ended by either party with six months notice.

Cheers,

Sid.

Return to “Poland 1919-1945”