Poland’s Role in the Czechoslovakian Crisis

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Steve
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Poland’s Role in the Czechoslovakian Crisis

Post by Steve » 22 May 2022 17:38

On 23 September 1938 a new Czechoslovakian cabinet led by General Jan Syrový was appointed with Benes as Prime Minister and a general mobilisation was announced. This is a clear indication that Cz was considering resisting German demands. On September 26 Hitler in a speech gave the Cz’s a deadline “I demand that Herr Benes be forced to honesty after twenty years. He will have to give over the territories on October 1”. On the 28th a conference took place at Cz Army Headquarters attended by leading generals. It was agreed to set up a military government in order to resist if Poland did not intervene. A military government would presumably have meant the removal of Benes.

The meeting of the Cz army leadership on the 28th is referred to by Keith Robbins in his book Munich on page 313.

The following comes from Wikipedia and is taken from the part referring to Poland. “The Chief of the General Staff of the Czechoslovak Army, General Ludvík Krejčí, reported on 29 September that "Our army will in about two days' time be in full condition to withstand an attack even by all Germany's forces together, provided Poland does not move against us".”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munich_Agreement

Towards the end of September the Polish army was massing on the Cz border. On September 30 (just before midnight) the Poles presented a note demanding evacuation of certain areas in 24 hrs from noon October 1. This seems to have made up the mind of the Cz army not to fight. So the question is did Hitler have a walk over because of Poland?

Link below will take you to an interesting article on the area ceded by Czechoslovakia.

https://openairmuseum.info/en/dzialy/Bo ... ublic-1938

DavidFrankenberg
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Re: Poland’s Role in the Czechoslovakian Crisis

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 22 May 2022 20:06

Léon Noël, who was minister in Prague (1932-1935) before being ambassador in Varsaw (1935-1939), tells us how deep certitudes spread in the corps diplomatic about a polish-german secret alliance :

La Pologne entre deux mondes, Chapter 8, Political activity of Beck. His collaborators.
my emphasis
Léon Noël wrote: Au temps où j’étais ministre à Prague, Benès accusait formellement Joseph Beck d’être à la solde de Berlin. Il prétendait en posséder la preuve et faisait état des dépenses successives d’un ménage dont on savait qu’il ne possédait pas la moindre fortune personnelle. Il est probable que – comme il lui est arrivé bien des fois – Benès avait été trompé par des émigrés politiques. Les fonds secrets suffisaient à expliquer le train de vie du Ministre polonais et de sa femme.

Presque partout dans le monde on croyait que Beck avait conclu, avec l’Allemagne, un accord secret et qu’en cas de guerre, ce serait à ses côtés que la Pologne combattrait. Au moment de ma nomination à Varsovie, un journal du Bourbonnais, certainement inspiré par Marcel Boussac2, puis l’Echo de Paris avaient même publié le prétendu texte – fort habilement rédigé – de ce soi-disant accord. A Paris, son authenticité était et demeura longtemps une conviction générale. Alexis Leger n’en doutait point et j’eus souvent l’impression d’être considéré, par lui et par d’autres, comme un naïf parce que je n’étais pas de cet avis.
(...)
Lors de mon arrivée à Varsovie, le nonce apostolique, Mgr Marmaggi, partageait l’erreur du Quai d’Orsay. Il me confia avoir la conviction morale qu’il existait une alliance secrète entre la Pologne et Hitler. La plupart des diplomates accrédités à Varsovie en étaient, eux aussi, convaincus. Naturellement, l’ambassadeur des Soviets l’était plus que personne.
(...)
le prince Janusz Radziwill, le comte Potocki et le général Fabrycy, personnalités cynégétiques de premier plan, allaient chasser en Allemagne, j’écrivais que ce qu’il convenait de retenir, c’était « avant tout, que l’Allemagne multiplie, et de plus en plus, des avances à l’égard de la Pologne. A l’encontre de ce que nous avons fait trop souvent, elle profite de toutes les circonstances, de tous les prétextes pour organiser des manifestations et provoquer des contacts entre Polonais et Allemands [...] pour compromettre la Pologne et l’entraîner dans son sillage ».
(...)
Tout se passe comme si le gouvernement de Varsovie, s’attendant à de graves événements en Europe centrale, voulait se mettre en mesure d’en profiter, cherchait à y préparer l’opinion polonaise et se préoccupait, par avance, de se procurer certaines justifications.
(...)
Beck, à qui je parlais de ces rencontres polono-allemandes, m’avait affirmé qu’elles n’avaient « aucun but politique » et ne se rattachaient « à aucune négociation » : « Le gouvernement polonais, m’a-t-il dit en substance, voit ces rencontres d’un œil favorable. La détente entre la Pologne et l’Allemagne a dû être imposée aux deux peuples par leurs gouvernements. Ces voyages soulignent l’œuvre accomplie et prouvent aux opinions publiques la valeur du rapprochement réalisé.
(...)
Joseph Beck, ce n’est pas douteux, était dans une large mesure de culture germanique. Il connaissait l’Allemagne beaucoup mieux que la France. Il éprouvait une attirance certaine pour Hitler et pour sa clique4, comme pour Mussolini et la sienne. Il se berçait de l’illusion5 que, parce qu’il était autrichien, le Führer n’était pas animé contre les Polonais de la haine traditionnelle que les Prussiens nourrissaient à leur égard. Il admirait la force allemande et, en l’évaluant, il se trompait moins, hélas ! que les dirigeants français.
(...)
{mes collaborateurs} me confiaient leur certitude d’un accord secret germano-polonais
(...)
Un des adversaires les plus déterminés et les plus intelligents de Beck, Henryk Strasburger, ancien commissaire général de Pologne à Dantzig, vint me voir de la part d’un certain nombre de chefs de l’opposition. (...) Il s’exprima librement et m’avoua que l’ardent désir que ses amis et lui avaient de renverser le ministre des Affaires étrangères était tempéré par une crainte, celle de voir l’Allemagne prendre sa chute en trop mauvaise part. (...) {Noël répondit} "Ce qui nous inquiète, vous le savez, ce n’est pas tant le principe de cette politique de détente que le fait qu’elle soit menée par le colonel Beck, en qui nous n’avons nulle confiance, et ce qui, si souvent nous irrite, c’est que, par ses méthodes, il se donne l’apparence de la diriger contre nous"
(...)
Mais celui qui jouait vraiment auprès de lui {Beck} le rôle d’Eminence grise était un certain Drymer (...) On le vit bien à l’automne de 1938, lors de la crise tchécoslovaque. Ce fut lui – tout directeur du personnel au Palais Brühl qu’il fût – qui se chargea de recruter, dans les bas-fonds de Varsovie, la soi-disant « légion silésienne » qui devait opérer en Silésie de Teschen et convaincre le monde que les habitants de cette région, polonais et patriotes, se soulevaient contre l’intolérable domination tchèque. Cette « légion silésienne » de Drymer se mua, peu après, en « légion hongroise », quand il s’agit pour Beck de semer l’agitation en Russie subcarpatique.
translation wrote:When I was minister in Prague, Benès formally accused Joseph Beck of being in the pay of Berlin. He claimed to have proof of this and reported the successive expenses of a household which was known not to have the slightest personal fortune. It is probable that – as has happened to him many times – Benès had been deceived by political emigrants. The secret funds were enough to explain the lifestyle of the Polish Minister and his wife.

Almost everywhere in the world it was believed that Beck had concluded a secret agreement with Germany and that in the event of war, it would be at his side that Poland would fight. At the time of my appointment in Warsaw, a Bourbonnais newspaper, certainly inspired by Marcel Boussac2, then the Echo de Paris had even published the alleged text – very cleverly written – of this so-called agreement. In Paris, its authenticity was and remained for a long time a general conviction. Alexis Leger had no doubts about it and I often had the impression of being considered, by him and by others, as naïve because I was not of this opinion.
(...)
When I arrived in Warsaw, the Apostolic Nuncio, Msgr. Marmaggi, shared the error of the Quai d'Orsay. He confided to me that he had the moral conviction that there was a secret alliance between Poland and Hitler. Most of the diplomats accredited to Warsaw were also convinced of this. Naturally, the Soviet ambassador was more so than anyone.
(...)
Janusz Radziwill, Count Potocki and General Fabrycy, leading hunting personalities, went hunting in Germany, I wrote that what should be remembered was "above all, that Germany multiply, and more and more advances towards Poland. Contrary to what we have done too often, it takes advantage of all the circumstances, of all the pretexts to organize demonstrations and provoke contacts between Poles and Germans [...] to compromise Poland and drag it into its wake.
(...)
It is as if the government in Warsaw, anticipating serious events in Central Europe, wanted to put itself in a position to take advantage of them, was trying to prepare Polish opinion for them and was concerned, in advance, to procure certain justifications.
(...)
Joseph Beck, there is no doubt, was to a large extent of Germanic culture. He knew Germany much better than France. He felt a certain attraction for Hitler and his clique4, as for Mussolini and his. He deluded himself5 that, because he was Austrian, the Führer was not animated against the Poles with the traditional hatred that the Prussians harbored towards them. He admired the German force and, in evaluating it, he was less mistaken, alas! than the French leaders.
(...)
One of Beck's most determined and clever opponents, Henryk Strasburger, former Commissioner General of Poland in Danzig, came to see me on behalf of a number of opposition leaders. (...) He spoke freely and confessed to me that the ardent desire he and his friends had to overthrow the Minister of Foreign Affairs was tempered by a fear of seeing Germany take its fall too badly go. (...) {Noël replied} "What worries us, as you know, is not so much the principle of this policy of détente as the fact that it is led by Colonel Beck, in whom we do not we have no confidence, and what so often irritates us is that, by his methods, he gives himself the appearance of directing it against us.
(...)
But the one who really played for him {Beck} the role of Eminence grise was a certain Drymer (...) We saw him well in the autumn of 1938, during the Czechoslovakian crisis. It was he – personnel manager at the Brühl Palace though he was – who undertook to recruit, in the Warsaw slums, the so-called "Silesian Legion" which was to operate in Teschen Silesia and convince the world that the inhabitants of this region, Poles and patriots, rose up against the intolerable Czech domination. This “Silesian legion” of Drymer changed, shortly after, into the “Hungarian legion”, when it is a question for Beck of sowing agitation in sub-Carpathian Russia.
Last edited by DavidFrankenberg on 22 May 2022 20:59, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Poland’s Role in the Czechoslovakian Crisis

Post by Ponury » 22 May 2022 20:30

Not necessarily. Poles, out of pure greed, joined Germany's actions. I don't think Hitler will give up because of Poland. Especially since in March 1939 it took the rest of Czechoslovakia. How did Poland help him here? In nothing. And so he intended to crush Czechoslovakia, by force or not. Similarly, Poland. The naivety of Poles is that they believed it would be different :)

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Re: Poland’s Role in the Czechoslovakian Crisis

Post by Steve » 23 May 2022 00:10

Film on the Polish occupation of Teschen, It shows Jozef Beck and also gives us a look at the pre war Polish army. Takes about 40 seconds before it starts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUYbdeU9T1k

Film on the pre war Cz army and it's mobilisation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m03WKXjWm_g

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRnJ3rXx370

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Re: Poland’s Role in the Czechoslovakian Crisis

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 23 May 2022 01:17

Steve wrote:
23 May 2022 00:10
Film on the Polish occupation of Teschen, It shows Jozef Beck and also gives us a look at the pre war Polish army. Takes about 40 seconds before it starts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUYbdeU9T1k
Beck seemed very happy to deliver the polish people from the "terrible dictatoriship" of the Czechs...

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Re: Poland’s Role in the Czechoslovakian Crisis

Post by Ponury » 23 May 2022 16:27

It was a dispute, a conflict between Poland and Czechoslovakia from 1919. Poland at the wrong moment tore this region off. Beck happy? Short. As early as 1939, he became bitterly convinced of the failure of his policy. He died in oblivion, in exile in Romania in 1944. Until now, he is poorly remembered in Poland. Even the streets are not named after him, at least I don't know ...

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Re: Poland’s Role in the Czechoslovakian Crisis

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 23 May 2022 19:51

Ponury wrote:
23 May 2022 16:27
It was a dispute, a conflict between Poland and Czechoslovakia from 1919. Poland at the wrong moment tore this region off. Beck happy? Short. As early as 1939, he became bitterly convinced of the failure of his policy. He died in oblivion, in exile in Romania in 1944. Until now, he is poorly remembered in Poland. Even the streets are not named after him, at least I don't know ...
Hi,
we discussed about Beck more in details here viewtopic.php?f=111&t=264129
Beck was an enigmatic personnage.
It is hard to tell what he really had in mind.

He looks very happy in the video posted here by Steve.
Maybe he was sad inside ? Puzzling.

Léon Noël tried to explain his weird personality. He explains that Poland of the 30's was dominated by the ghost of a dead man : Pilsudski. Beck was the créature of Pilsudski. And he strictly stuck to the Pilsudksi doctrine. He was like unable to do his own policy, to think by himself, to draw the conclusion of german rearmament etc.
That's maybe why he was such an alcoholic. Like the soldier he was, he was unable to disobey Pilsudki ; but he was also clever enough to see the catastrophe coming.

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